I have received many alarming and outright threatening emails about Operation Vigilant Guard. Now since I have no desire to run around scared out of my wits all the time and like to put things into perspective I did my usual research thing on this.
As far I can tell Operation Vigilant Guard was proposed by name in 2006 but mentioned in 'mission' in the Patriot Act of 2001. It was first budgeted for by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2007. Between 2007 and 2008 ten to 20 states took part in any given year.
Since it encompasses US National Guard, standard US military branches (special teams like CERN and CBRN & MP) as well as civilian volunteer groups, like the Baptist National Relief Group and US defense contractors, it appears to be different states during different years participating, with states that tend to get more frequent 'natural disasters' participating each year since 2007.
It is classified as a National Level Exercise (NLE). The Vigilant Guard exercise program is sponsored by US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau (NGB). The program provides State National Guard Headquarters and supporting units with an opportunity to improve cooperation and operational relationships with their civilian, federal and military partners in preparation for domestic emergencies and catastrophic events.
The local library didn't have much on this and when you search the web 99% of all the links to the first 50 pages of search results are for 2009-2012. The 10 or so articles I found (outside of the national guard links, where I looked for local newspaper online presences) for 2007 & 2008 were very positive and often stressed that this was to reduce the confusion, lag-time and screw-ups that occurred during Katrina. Anything after 2008 from the public media seems to be sensationalism and fear mongering ... because when you read the actual agendas on the national guard sites, the exercises are the same as previous years like 2007 & 2008 - when hardly anyone shouted an alarm!.
When I search various state's government hazard and or preparedness websites, Operation Vigilant Guard was often referred to as the way CERT (Civilian Emergency Response Teams), MARS, RACES and a whole slew of other civilian groups (including the Civilian Air Patrol) volunteers to become involved with their states emergency plans and to be prepared.
This 'operation' does not scare me and most certainly not like Operation Garden Plot, aka The Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan (18 USC 1385 Posse Comitatus Act) which is a general U.S. Army and National Guard plan to respond to major domestic civil disturbances within the United States and are joint military, law enforcement & civilian exercises. The plan was developed in response to the civil disorders of the 1960s and is now under the control of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). Yes, this is the same group that controls Operation Vigilant Guard so it does warrant watching. It provides Federal military and law enforcement assistance to local governments during times of major civil disturbances. The Pentagon also activated it to restore order during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Garden Plot was last activated (as Noble Eagle under NSA & later DHS) to provide military assistance to civil authorities following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
To top it off: the concept of Garden Plot was spelled out in the Patriot Act by name: "Oversight of these homeland security missions should be provided by the National Guard Bureau based on the long-standing Garden Plot model in which National Guard units are trained and equipped to support civil authorities in crowd control and civil disturbance missions." Testimony of Major General Richard C. Alexander, ANGUS (Ret.), Executive Director, National Guard Association of the United States, Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on Homeland Defense, April 11, 2002.
Since the 9-11 attack DHS has used 'Garden Plot' guidelines for other continuing "operations" and "missions" including Fast & Furious. Which is why it scares me way more than this Operation Vigilant Guard!
On top of that Operation Vigilant Guard was awarded very few funds in the 2012 NDAA budget, as it is mostly a state funded NLE operation. While the new versions of Operation Garden Plot was awarded close to 1 billion from both the NDAA budget as well as the DOJ budget (the DOJ budget bill does not receive the public scrutiny that the DOD NDAA bill does) and is a full federal level NLE JTF (joint task force) operation.
I will grant you this: In states like say, California (among a few others) BOTH operations took place as a combined event, their newspapers even listed them as such and THAT I find alarming!
One basic reality check we should all use no matter what our beliefs, is this:
If our town were devastated by something that produced mass displacement, mass casualties and mass mortalities - What would we expect the authorities to do?
Remember whatever this crisis is, it will NOT just hit us God fearing, law abiding citizens - it will hit the prisons and jails too ... meaning all the people running around will be a mix of “the good, the bad and the ugly”!
We would need shelter, food, water, medical, spiritual, communication, transportation, defense, safety and security - to name a few necessities.
Mortalities will need to be addressed for humans, animals, pets and livestock to reduce the spread of bacterial diseases caused by decaying bodies (not to mention the smell); we humans will want closure on our beloved pets and loved ones; escaped criminals will need to be rounded up to protect us, we will need medical attention, shelter, food, clothing and whole slew of other things to survive let alone recover.
Next consider that exercises like rapelling are part of getting into an area when access roads are not available and have been utilized not just by the military but in Urban and wilderness S&R for decades.
Night flying and rapelling is much more hazardous than daylight operations, especially in urban areas with all the higher buildings, electrical wires, towers and the like ... that takes practice just to be sure our 'rescuers' do not die in the attempt! Of course that also means any military needs to practice for the same reasons too.
Now if this was you or a loved one, say; trapped on a roof with rising waters all around you – do you want to wait until daylight for rescue or to be rescued by untrained and unprepared personnel?
How on earth do we expect any entity to do this without pre-planning, pre-budgeting, supply storage units, predesignated housing sites (or camps) and replacement of items as they exceed their shelf life? Remember shelf life is not just about food and drugs it’s about tires, body bags, ropes, clothing, paint, fuel and just about everything else we may need to recoup from a disaster.
Reality is that we can either have a discombobulated, unplanned and unprepared for response or we can have a pre planned, pre funded and pre practiced plan and response that coordinates civilian and governmental entities - in place before a crisis hits and actually have a chance at an effective and efficient response of help and assistance. Of course this means that we must keep a vigilant eye out for abuse of these plans, however the plans alone are nothing but simple common sense and not tyrannical in and of themselves.
Bottom line: Since I have not and do not, trust the US government (at any level) any farther than I can spit, I would say it is always wise to keep a watchful eye out. In this case however, the various state events so far, do not appear to warrant an alarm of Martial Law or Police State from Operation Vigilant Guard (unlike Operation Garden Plot).
Knowledge is Power - Be Prepared, Not Scared
This can be downloaded from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/102690249/Perspective-Operation-Vigilant-Guard