News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 2, 2011

National Guard on duty to offer aid, rescue

44 armories of soldiers activated because of storm

TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana National Guard, ahead of Tuesday’s ice storm, began mobilizing troops into highway assistance teams as well as multifunction force teams that can help with search and rescue missions, said Lt. Col. Kevin W. Extine, director of military support for the state.

“We are activating Army National Guard soldiers in 44 armories in the I-70 corridor and north in preparation of the winter storm, so that we would be pre-positioned to assist with our highway assistance teams for stranded motorists and assist our state agencies in response as needed,” Extine said Tuesday morning.

Troops in Terre Haute were on station as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, conducting pre-missions and battle drills to rehearse as part of its preparation, Extine said.

The Indiana National Guard, composed of Army and Air Force personnel, was to have 800 Guardsmen available. The Guard will have 88 highway assistance teams, Extine said, composed of two teams of four soldiers each, manning two Humvees to reach stranded motorists.

“There will be two highway assistant teams per armory,” Extine said. “We also have multifunction force packages that are located in each area, which will help with search and rescue, door-to-door knocking, debris removal, as well as assist highway teams. They also do security operations.

“They can also help with evacuation if needed at a hospital or nursing home,” Extine said. Those teams, in addition to Humvees, will also have trucks and other equipment, Extine said.

The Indiana National Guard was activated by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Many of the troops were in position as of midnight Monday, mainly in northern Indiana counties, where several feet of snow had been forecasted to fall by late Tuesday.

In the Wabash Valley, the troops will focus on problems from ice.

“Our biggest concern is the power outages and stranded motorists, with the ice,” Extine said.

“We are here to respond and are postured and readied to help,” Extine said.

The Indiana National Guard was mobilized in 2004-05 to respond to more than 12 inches of snow that hit the Evansville area, Extine said. More than 1,000 troops were mobilized in 2008 when floods hit the Wabash Valley and southern Indiana.

“This is something we have done in the past. It is our number-one mission — the homeland response. Our soldiers are trained and prepared to do the mission,” Extine said.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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    March 12, 2010

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