National Guard troops hold emergency disaster response exercise - KOTA Territory News

National Guard troops hold emergency disaster response exercise

When you think of terrorism, you may think of instances that happened overseas. But domestic terrorism is becoming an all-too real possibility. And it could happen right here in the Black Hills.

That's why the North Carolina National Guard teamed with local National Guard units to hold mock terrorism exercises on Saturday. The exercise is part of the 30th annual Golden Coyote training underway in Rapid City and the southern Black Hills.

Eric Locklear is a Lieutenant Colonel with the North Carolina National Guard. He and his 310-soldier unit are here to participate in the training. He said their focus is domestic terrorism scenarios designed to enhance critical infrastructure security. The exercise is designed to test a soldier's ability to respond to a credible threat at local facilities, such as Black Hills Power.

"We saw an opportunity not only to train, but to train in a different environment," Locklear said.

The soldiers respond to a mock protest where they learn to handle civil unrest through a process of communication. They attempt to defuse the situation before it can get out of control.

“We try to answer any questions that they have. But if it becomes more hostile, then we have the ability to prevent them from entering the building,” Locklear said.

Vance Crocker, vice president of operations at Black Hills Power, said this is an opportunity for us to provide a real world scenario for the North Carolina National Guard.

“Not only an opportunity for real–world scenario for them, but also for Black Hills Power,” Crocker said.

The soldiers don't act as local law enforcement, but report anything they think is suspicious behavior.

"Any evidence, any observation of anyone that we've been told is a possible terrorist, we would immediately report to the law enforcement agency," Locklear said.

The two-week Golden Coyote training exercise began June 9th and continues until June 23rd.

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