Exercise Vigilant Diamond tests emergency response

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Gwendolyn Blakley
Delaware Air National Guard members participated in an antiterrorism exercise- Vigilant Diamond. The exercise kicked off on August 4, 2017 and concluded on August 5, 2017. A culmination of simulated events ensued to test the response capabilities of the base. This exercise was developed through collaboration of key wing subject matter experts and was based on realistic scenarios.


As part of training, base personnel were required to respond within the scope of their duty assignments while wing inspection team members documented their actions. Members of the 166th Airlift Wing were documented on their response to an active shooter incident, hazardous materials incident, ability to shelter in place and account for members of the unit. All exercise responses took place in in an elevated force protection- Force Protection Charlie. 

Exercise Vigilant Diamond began after a simulated “be on the lookout” message was issued to inform the community of a threat involving an escaped prisoner from the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna Delaware. The inmate escaped the facility, stole a stake body truck and M-4 rifle from the Delaware National Guard Armory and then proceeded to buy a box of 5.56 caliber ammunition from a local Walmart. At the height of the scenario the suspect became an active shooter, and released hazardous materials while on base. Ultimately, the suspect was captured and killed following an exchange of gunfire with base security force members. 

Additionally, during the exercise members of the 166th Fire Team and Security Forces joined together to work a unified command, set up a cordon and temporary entry control points, and ensure incident safety following a smoke notification. A hazardous material discharge released lethal chlorine gas and an explosive device was identified. Authorities closed off local traffic within a 3000 foot radius of the incident. Delaware Air National Guard hazardous material response and explosive ordinance disposal teams responded to contain the lead and explosive device. The fire department established decontamination procedures at the incident location, and the explosive ordinance team performed and assessment of the smoking truck.
Inspection team members emphasized this exercise being a learning tool for all participants.

“How well we execute is not the only indicator of success, it also is what we learn and how we leverage that knowledge to develop a process of continuous improvement” said Senior Master Sgt. Trent Krams, inspector general superintendent, 166th Airlift Wing.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Rowand, acting installation emergency manager, 166th Airlift Wing, stated, “In this exercise we are looking for proper communication between our members, our unit control center, emergency operations center, and the crisis action team. We have implemented a new Wing Inspection Shelter in Place Guide, and we are validating our capabilities of the Emergency Response Team.” 

The 166th Security Forces Squadron was intregal and precise at capturing and neutralizing the active shooter played by Airman First Class Andrew Valladares, intelligence analyst, 166th Airlift Wing, while all base personnel followed guidance of the active shooter incident response plan.
“Exercises benefit Security Forces; they are opportunities for our defenders to get a real chance to put our training into action,” said Master Sgt. Timothy Luko, chief of information protection, 166th Security Forces Squadron. 

Exercises such as Vigilant Diamond provide the opportunity for key players, inspectors, and base personnel to highlight positive practices and focus on areas of improvement. 

“This is one of our biggest exercises that we have planned thus far. We are relying on the expertise of our senior leaders in this exercise to share their knowledge while inspecting. We are looking to them to document discrepancies. Our goal is to improve the mission response to certain situations that may occur on base, and continue to improve,” said Lt. Col. Michael Blair, inspector general, 166th Airlift Wing.