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PATRIOT 21 exercise underway at Volk Field

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sadonta Cole, a firefighter with the 188th Wing at Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Ark., trains using various methods to cut metal with a torch at the REACT Center during PATRIOT 21 at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., June 13, 2021. PATRIOT 21 is an annual, accredited Joint National Training Capability exercise that provides a simulated natural disaster environment for units to test their response and capabilities to conduct domestic operations.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sadonta Cole, a firefighter with the 188th Wing at Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Ark., trains using various methods to cut metal with a torch at the REACT Center during PATRIOT 21 at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., June 13, 2021. PATRIOT 21 is an annual, accredited Joint National Training Capability exercise that provides a simulated natural disaster environment for units to test their response and capabilities to conduct domestic operations.

VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. – About 1,000 people are participating in PATRIOT 21, a domestic operations (DOMOPS) training exercise sponsored by the National Guard Bureau at Fort McCoy and Volk Field Air National Guard Base June 14–17.

PATRIOT is an annual exercise focused on local, state, federal and private sector organizations responding together to a natural or man-made emergency.

The exercise tests responders ability to deal with such scenarios as earthquakes, collapsed buildings, blocked roads, mass casualties and the need for search and rescue.

"It's been more than a year that we've been in a pandemic, and we've also had civil disturbance and natural disasters along the way, and we've been in response mode," said Lt. Col. Roger Brooks IV, PATRIOT 21 director. "But we're getting back to the business of training for those situations now. It's all about training with our local civilian agencies and partners and improving our communication and ability to work seamlessly with different entities."

Participants in the exercise include National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and Naval Reserve Sailors in various career fields from 26 states, Wisconsin Emergency Management, Nebraska State Patrol, the Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, Mississippi Task Force Urban Search and Rescue, Verizon, FirstNet, JPS Interoperability Solutions and Atlantic Dive Supply.

"I don't think we can do this enough," Brooks said. "This actually prepares service members and our civilian partners to respond to these situations both domestically, as in the case of a pandemic or an earthquake, or overseas in a warfight. I think we are making multi-capable Airmen and Soldiers who can plug their skill sets into any situation."