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National Guard soldiers from across the country deploy to Alaska for Exercise Orca

Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 7:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Military and civilian teams deployed across Southcentral Alaska this week. They responded to emergencies involving weapons of mass destruction. There’s no need to panic, as the emergencies weren’t real. It’s all part of the annual Exercise Orca, hosted by the Alaska Army National Guard.

“This is the largest what we call a CBREN, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives exercise done in Alaska,” said Lt. Colonel Tony Mortrud, the commander of the 103rd Civil Support Team, which oversees the drill.

Besides Alaska, National Guard CST units participating included units from California, Connecticut, Colorado, Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and the 10th Homeland Response Force from Washington along with the 8th CBRN Enhanced Response Force-Package from Colorado.

The Alaska National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, 176th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management section, Joint Operations Center, and Joint Staff Operations Section also participated. U.S. Army Pacific organized the week-long exercise.

Training scenarios took place in Anchorage, Wasilla and Seward, and involved operations in the air, on the land and the water. The goal is to get everyone on the same page.

“We see the way they do things, they see the way we do things, and we communicate that back and forth,” said Motrud. “We kind of pick and choose what the best is for us out of that.”

What helps this year is the addition of a new communication system that allows agencies around the country to monitor the situation.

“The intel from Seward is shared immediately, and the connection can be made between the two sites,” Mortrud said. “That allows possibly law enforcement to place those connections and then go down to a different area to find individuals that are trying to perpetrate this.”

Exercise Orca involved more than 400 military and civilian personnel, including about 300 National Guardsmen from 12 states.

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