MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. - The trucks have started moving in, Soldiers in gas masks are clearing roads, and helicopters can be heard overhead. Guardian Response 19 has officially kicked off.

Guardian Response 19 is a homeland emergency response exercise commanded by the 78th Training Division from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Lt. Col. Chris Mabis, site commander of Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, says that the month-long exercise is exactly what the Indiana National Guard facility excels at.

"Guardian Response allows Muscatatuck Urban Training Center to showcase the ability to simulate an urban area affected by natural or manmade disaster," says Mabis. "The diverse urban terrain and human population tests the Army's ability to conduct defense support to civil authorities in a complex and dynamic environment."

In the fictionalized world of the exercise, a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb has been detonated in Detroit, Mich., and Muscatatuck is an area on the edge of the blast zone. This kind of terrorist disaster allows the Army to exercise its response capabilities in a way that gets everybody involved and creates situations that stress the readiness of the force.

Stressing the force starts at the very beginning of the exercise. Before the first responders can get to any victims, debris has to be cleared from the roadways to create a path. That's when the engineers from Texas are brought in.

The 104th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade from Ft. Hood, Tx., is responsible for clearing debris from the roadways. This would normally be an easy enough task for the professionals in the company but due to the "threat" of "nuclear fallout," the entire company had to complete the task while wearing gas masks and personal protective gear, creating a different challenge for them.

Field exercise Guardian Response 19 at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and its command post exercise component, Vibrant Response 19, at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and other sites around the United States, continue through the third week of May.