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Response Task Force readiness exercise tests local responders, Airmen

Lt. Col. Alan Haedge, 341st Communications Squadron commander, speaks with an Air Force Global Strike Command representative during a Local Integrated Response Plan exercise Aug. 26, 2019, at Augusta, Mont. The LIRP exercise provides a training opportunity for experts from the 341st Missile Wing and multiple federal, state, local and tribal agencies to practice contingency checklists and procedures in response to a simulated incident. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Lt. Col. Alan Haedge, 341st Communications Squadron commander, speaks with an Air Force Global Strike Command representative during a Local Integrated Response Plan exercise Aug. 26, 2019, at Augusta, Mont. The LIRP exercise provides a training opportunity for experts from the 341st Missile Wing and multiple federal, state, local and tribal agencies to practice contingency checklists and procedures in response to a simulated incident. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Community leaders group together during Local Integrated Response Plan community demonstrations to discuss plans for an exercise Aug. 14, 2018, at Fort Benton, Mont. LIRP is a combined effort between local agencies such as law enforcement and volunteer departments with nearby military organizations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Community leaders group together during Local Integrated Response Plan community demonstrations to discuss plans for an exercise Aug. 14, 2018, at Fort Benton, Mont. LIRP is a combined effort between local agencies such as law enforcement and volunteer departments with nearby military organizations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

Air Force Global Strike Command officials routinely conduct extensive readiness exercises to ensure proper and effective response with local, tribal, State and Federal first responders.

The recent Local Integrated Response Plan and Response Task Force readiness exercises held here were designed to grow partnerships and refine processes amongst hundreds of first responders.

Participants from dozens of government agencies, ranging from national to community organizations, included the Department of Energy and FBI, to local volunteer firefighters, State Highway Patrol, the County Commissioner and even the staff of a 100-year-old high school.

Over the course of three days, and spanning a massive exercise area, participants simulated how to respond to an event involving AFGSC resources.

Prior to the RTF arrival, base and local community officials tested their LIRP with a table-top exercise. 

The LIRP is a generalized plan that details the base’s, and various local agencies’, responsibilities in the hours after an event occurs.

Sheriff Keith Van Setten, a primary local partner with Malmstrom AFB’s Security Forces and a key participant in the exercise, described his role as the “eyes and ears” for the area. His team supported the efforts of the base and helped provide a safety cordon in the affected area to minimize impact on the local area while still establishing a safe and secure perimeter.

Airman 1st Class Chase Lemon, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron said, “The main purpose is to integrate with local law enforcement to start getting a plan down because, at the end of the day, we don’t get a lot of training with them; and it’s important to have that pristine plan going in when we’re getting these convoys to sites.”

After the LIRP, more than 250 personnel from Malmstrom, AFGSC as well as the local area poured in for a response task force exercise. This 3-day event charged its participants with the initial response that would occur in the event of an accident involving AFGSC assets.

Within hours of notification of the simulated incident, nearly 100 first responders were on scene and had shut down over a mile of the local highway as a safety barrier.

The RTF was able to establish a National Defense Area, a command center and prove, that given an event, they could successfully recover all equipment while providing safety and security for responding personnel and the surrounding communities.

Though the RTF exercise was just a sampling of the more than 2,500 who would respond in the case of a real event, the training received was key to successful operations in the future.

“Exercises such as these, with our local and national partners, as well as the key agencies, allow us to achieve excellence,” Maj. Gen. Fred Stoss, the 20th Air Force commander and RTF commander said. “We practice so that we can be crisp and efficient during times of crisis.”