FORT GREELY, Alaska -- The 100th Missile Defense Brigade and the 49th Missile Defense Battalion conducted their most comprehensive and thorough external evaluation to date at Fort Greely Aug. 20-24.
Guardian Watch 18, a variation of a biannual event, was an 84-hour exercise that tested the battalion on 28 tasks and many performance measures within its two missions: defending the United States and designated areas from intercontinental ballistic missile attack and critical site security of the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely.
"It makes me proud to see their success," said 1st Lt. Jarrod Cuthbertson, missile defense operations research and development, 100th Missile Defense Brigade. "I was honored to be a part of the planning and execution of this evaluation so I could see the amount of training and dedication all the Soldiers have put into accomplishing this mission."
Cuthbertson said this was the largest external evaluation the brigade has ever planned and included the validation of military police readiness and medical response, and personnel and supply coordination. It also was the pilot for an upcoming program to train, certify and validate missile defense crews through new Table 12 requirements, which will take crews to the next level of readiness. In these tables, crews will be certified to conduct the ground-based midcourse defense mission in increasingly challenging conditions.
Twenty-four external evaluators from the brigade, and Colorado and Alaska national guards served as observer/controllers and exercise supervisors. Sixteen military police Soldiers from the 193rd Military Police Battalion, Colorado Army National Guard, and 297th Military Police Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard, role-played opposing forces, waging a series of mock attacks on the Missile Defense Complex to test the response of the military police who defend and secure the complex.
The attack scenarios proved challenging, but Sgt. Luis Gutierrez, a team leader with Company A, said the MP Soldiers were well prepared to respond. Gutierrez credited his Soldiers' readiness to ongoing training and two internal evaluations conducted earlier this year.
"The best way to describe this exercise would be 'dynamic chaos,'" said Gutierrez. "It was complex, it was hard. There were so many (opposing forces) at the same time, which made it feel real. I think we did awesome and we also learned a lot on the medical side. This boosted our confidence and our readiness."
Staff Sgt. Gabriel Ives, a squad leader with Company A, 49th Missile Defense Battalion said it was like a measuring stick.
"With such a large (opposing force) footprint, we realize there could be an attack at any time, just like real life. We can't lose focus," Ives said. "It's good to know what a deliberate attack would look like. It shows us where we can improve and makes us more effective. We can modify our reactions to better cover scenarios we didn't think of. It allows us to practice our (tactics, techniques and procedures) and basic Soldier tasks."
The MPs were also evaluated on how they responded to and treated casualties. Master Sgt. Robert Henry, operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the Colorado Army National Guard medical detachment, served as a medical evaluator and noted the dedication and motivation he saw.
"They have one of the highest priority missions in the nation and the total commitment they showed is clear," said Henry. "They're very dedicated and professional. It was great for me to be able to see the outstanding NCOs and officers we have who dedicate so much of their time to do that job up here."
Ever mindful of their critical role in missile defense, the 49th Missile Defense Battalion also practiced its actions in the event of a ground-based interceptor launch. The tactics, techniques and procedures exercised as part of the post-launch actions included not only the 49th, but also involved Fort Greely garrison and materiel developers for a cohesive response.
"We may do it for real one day," said Cuthbertson.