Indiana National Guard participates in simulated terrorist attack

A simulated crash involving a train and a vehicle.
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Several Indiana National Guard units are part of an exercise this month that simulates a terrorist attack in the United States.

WTHR visited the soldiers at Atterbury-Muscatatuck near Edinburgh on Thursday as they participated in "Vibrant Response." The exercise runs through Aug. 7. The training includes urban and aerial search and rescue missions, simulated decontamination operations, airlift, medical training and other events.

In a nuclear blast, trains would likely de-rail, buildings would collapse and people would be scared and hurting.

"I'm in some pretty bad pain here," said Mark Williams.

Williams wasn't really hurt and is not really an actor, but he's playing an important role in the "vibrant response" training exercise.

"I'm having chest pains. I was fairly close to a blast, I've got slight radiation burns and I need medical attention pretty quick," Williams continued.

The North Vernon resident will be part of the training all week.

"Yesterday I was non-ambulatory and I had shrapnel wounds in my right leg, so today, it's completely different," he said.

The actors don't get a script, but they're told to behave the way they would if a nuclear bomb went off in Indianapolis.

"There's some pretty good role players here," said Warren Todd of Indiana Task Force One.

Todd is on the other side of the exercise. If the bomb really hit, he'd be one of the first people in to help.

"In a real world event, all of these groups would come together and it's great to do this in a training environment, rather than the real world, for the first time," Todd said.

It is not the first time the Army has trained this way at Muscatatuck, but this is the biggest so far. The exercise is hosted by the U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), U.S. Northern Command's Joint Force Land Component Command, and includes approximately 5,500 military and civilian personnel from across the country, including representatives from FEMA and the FBI.

Indiana National Guard units involved are: Joint Force Headquarters Indiana, Joint Task Force-81st, the 53rd Civil Support Team and the Indiana National Guard MP reaction Force.

"We're always preparing - we say 'leaning forward' - and the message I want to give to the citizens of Indiana and the nation is that we're prepared," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins.

Prepared to handle everything from the biological impact of this kind of attack to searches in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The Army says the experts who run the yearly training program have a combined 1,500 years of studying and planning for a large-scale training attack.