Guardsmen and Wisconsin State Patrol conduct riot-control training at PATRIOT North 19

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tamara R. Dabney
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

Members of the Army and Air National Guard collaborated with the Wisconsin State Patrol to conduct riot-control training during the PATRIOT North 19 exercise at Fort McCoy, WI.

PATRIOT North is an annual domestic operations exercise, which tests the ability of the National Guard to work together with local, state and federal entities to respond to emergencies. During this year’s exercise, National Guardsmen from Connecticut and New Hampshire responded to a simulated scenario in which the aftermath of a natural disaster led to civil unrest.

In the simulation, actors cried and yelled obscenities as they stormed the city streets in violent protest. Severe emotional distress brought on by a lack of daily necessities and the perceived neglect of the government had reached a boiling point. Agitated members of the community told government officials that they were hungry. They begged for water. They physically attacked one another and made several attempts to ambush law enforcement officers. The scene was reminiscent of real-life scenarios that have occurred in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Maria.

Senior Master Sgt. James Reynolds, 103rd Security Forces Squadron Flight Sergeant, explained that a fictitious state governor activated the National Guard to conduct riot-control measures when the simulated violence could no longer be contained by local law enforcement.

“Local law enforcement got overwhelmed after a natural disaster,” said Reynolds. “The governor has authorized that the National Guard come and assist the local law enforcement to deal with the communities that have been without food or water, electricity and all the human necessities for several weeks. They’re starting to get agitated.”

According to Reynolds, the training grounds at Fort McCoy are true to life, which made the training more realistic.

“It’s the most realistic training area that I’ve ever stepped foot on in my military career,” said Reynolds. “The buildings are real. There are actual schools and classrooms and grocery stores. It brings the training to life.”

Following a real-world emergency, a state governor can also activate the National Guard in support humanitarian efforts. In the days prior to the riot control training, Guardsmen also trained with law enforcement and emergency management partners during a scenario in which they provided security for the safe delivery of food, water and supplies. Each entity employed unique skills and resources to successfully complete the mission.

“This is really as good as it gets, in terms of domestic operations training,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Hayward, 103rd Security Forces Squadron Operations Officer. “The Air Force alone can’t cover every aspect of necessities. So, when we come into a town like this, we have to integrate with Wisconsin State Patrol, who are going to be the local experts who understand the area and the people. The Army National Guard also brings a specific skill set.”

Connecticut National Guardsmen are experienced emergency responders. In 2005, they assisted FEMA in providing aid to refugees impacted by Hurricane Katrina. 12 years later, they were deployed to Puerto Rico to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts. Based on his experience, Reynolds anticipates that his unit may be tasked with additional hurricane relief missions in the future.

“Seeing the events that have been happening locally and around the world, we can foresee our troops getting sent out to do these missions, real-world,” said Reynolds