Story by 1st Lt. Nikki McWilliams
FOUNTAIN INN, SOUTH CAROLINA – Soldiers with the 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade (TTSB) conducted Exercise Palmetto Lightning at the Fountain Inn Armory, Nov. 4-5, 2016, to prepare for future natural disasters that could affect the state.
Palmetto Lightning was a field exercise used to ‘practice as we fight’ in order for the Soldiers to become more aware and prepared for any future winter storm, or other natural disaster, responses.
“The more we get out of the Warrior Room and set up the equipment, the more familiar and efficient we will be,” said U.S. Army Maj. Robert Vaughn, 228th TTSB Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) system control officer.
The exercise consisted of seven vehicle recovery teams (VRT) and three liaisons from the 228th TTSB placed at different locations to communicate between the VRTs and the brigade’s Tactical Operations Center. The SCNG liaisons would relay missions to the VRTs and they would react based on the scenario. Scenarios included vehicles needing pulled out of a ditch or removed from the road to allow South Carolina Highway Patrol access to ensure the safety of South Carolinians.
“Being able to get out and perform the tasks helped the team to learn what to do better next time,” said U.S. Army Spc. Mavric Smith, 228th TTSB HHC power generation equipment repairer.
During the September inactive duty training weekend, South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers met with key staff of the 228th TTSB to collaborate and improve communication during future natural disasters. In early October, this partnership was put in action as more than 2,900 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated in response to Hurricane Matthew.
During that time, the 228th TTSB conducted real-world vehicle recovery missions along the coastal region of South Carolina. Exercises, such as Palmetto Lightning, ensure the Soldiers are ready to respond as needed during these situations.
The mission of the South Carolina National Guard during response to a natural disaster is to conduct civil support operations within affected regions to assist local, state and/or federal authorities with the protection of life and property, and with the preservation of peace, order, and public safety.