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Guam kicks off major training exercise

(From the left) Lt. Col. Jon Belsher, Lt. Col. Jackie Federico-Lopez, Tech. Sgt. Holly Strength, and Maj. Janet Campion from the 162nd Medical Group evaluate a victim during Vigilant Guard Guam, Aug. 24, 2010. The Airmen are part of the emergency medicine portion of the training exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

(From the left) Lt. Col. Jon Belsher, Lt. Col. Jackie Federico-Lopez, Tech. Sgt. Holly Strength, and Maj. Janet Campion from the 162nd Medical Group evaluate a victim during Vigilant Guard Guam, Aug. 24, 2010. The Airmen are part of the emergency medicine portion of the training exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

Lt. Col. Jackie Federico-Lopez, clinical nurse, 162nd Medical Group, Arizona National Guard, and Maj. Janet Campion, a flight surgeon also with the 162nd Med. Group, evaluate a victim during Vigilant Guard Guam, Aug. 24, 2010. The Airmen are part of the emergency medicine portion of the training exercise.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

Lt. Col. Jackie Federico-Lopez, clinical nurse, 162nd Medical Group, Arizona National Guard, and Maj. Janet Campion, a flight surgeon also with the 162nd Med. Group, evaluate a victim during Vigilant Guard Guam, Aug. 24, 2010. The Airmen are part of the emergency medicine portion of the training exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

GUAM -- Members of the Guam National Guard, in coordination with local, state and federal civilian agencies, began a large-scale training exercise here on Aug. 23 to improve their preparedness as a military first responder on the island.

The primary goal of the exercise, called Vigilant Guard Guam, is to enhance the coordination between military and civilian agencies, such as the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), Guam Homeland Security and the Office of Civil Defense (GHS/OCD) and local police and fire departments.

"This is a test of our capacity to respond to any local emergencies, whether they be man-made or natural," said Army Maj. Gen. Don Goldhorn, the adjutant general of Guam.

"I believe this is the most robust exercise that we've ever conducted," he said. "We've included not only the Guam National Guard, but [units] from other states as well, through the EMAC process."

Guard units participating in the exercise include the Guam's Joint Task Force, Quick Reaction Force and the 94th Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (CST), the 92nd and 93rd CSTs from the Hawaii National Guard, and the 162nd Fighter Wing from the Arizona National Guard.

Several other state CSTs in the exercise, include Illinois, Nevada, Alaska and Wyoming as well as the California Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP.

"We want to demonstrate to the public of Guam that the National Guard is a responsive organization," said Goldhorn.

"We are in fact the first military responders for any kind of event that might occur on Guam, and for us to be able to demonstrate our capacity... here on the island is just simply great for us."

Hundreds of Guard Soldiers and Airmen will continue to work alongside federal, state and local agencies as the exercise, which continues through Aug. 26.

The exercise will test the interaction abilities of the Guard with civilian agencies and their ability to respond to major domestic emergencies.