MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. (Aug. 2013) -- Soldiers from the Michigan and Indiana National Guard began their domestic response training during Vibrant Response 13-2, Aug. 10.

The 51st Civil Support Team from Battle Creek, Mich., and 53rd CST and the 1st Infantry Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, from Stout Field, Ind., traveled to the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center to take part in Vibrant Response, and react to a scenario in which a nuclear device detonated in an American city.

"They are what we would call second responders," said Jay B. Norris, U.S. Northern Command, USARNORTH, observer controller/trainer division chief from Edinburg, Miss. "They arrive right behind the firemen and the police. They've been asked to go out and survey the area for hazardous materials, or in this case, radiation. They are trying to determine for the first responders if it's clear and clean so they can move in and assist the local population."

In order to "train as we fight," as the popular Army saying goes, the training site has to simulate
real-life conditions as much as possible.

"(The environment here) replicates an actual American town," said Norris. "It has all the facilities of a typical small town, which is the type of environment they will be operating in. This mission is not like the typical mission in Afghanistan. This is urban. This is American ground."

Vibrant Response, a major field training exercise, is conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S Army North (5th Army). Approximately 5,700 service members and civilians from the military and other local, state and federal agencies are training to respond to a catastrophic domestic incident. The mission of USARNORTH is to coordinate timely federal military response to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in time of need.

First Lt. Zachary Martinez, platoon leader, Company C, 1-151 Infantry Regiment, agrees with Norris' assessment.

"The environment is pretty real-world," said Martinez, Richmond, Ind., native. "They got everything from train stations to subways, buildings, broken down cars. It's a pretty good reenactment of a real situation."

Martinez realizes the importance of his unit's training. He has high hopes that the realism of the scenario will allow him and his platoon to more efficiently respond to any kind of domestic incident, should the need arise.