Kansas Guard Opens A New Trainng Facility

Kansas officials held ribbon cutting ceremonies today for Crisis City and the new Kansas Air Guard facility in Salina at the Great Plains Joint Training Center.

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general and director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Kansas Homeland Security, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the headquarters for the Kansas Air Guard’s 284th Air Support Operations Squadron at the Smoky Hill Range in Salina.

“The opening of this facility also marks the day we are officially standing up this new Kansas Guard unit,” Bunting said. “The 284th Air Support Operations Squadron is one of only 14 in the entire Air National Guard and we’re proud to have it here in Salina.”

The 284th ASOS brings ground forces and air forces together to conduct joint training and will be a key component to joint military training operations at the Great Plains Joint Training Center. In addition, the ASOS can also provide communications resources for homeland security needs in Kansas during disaster response.

Senator Sam Brownback secured $9 million dollars in funding for the ASOS’s new facility. McPherson Contractors, Inc., in Topeka completed the facility in a little over a year. A groundbreaking was held in March 28, 2008 for the 33,000 square foot facility.

Lt. Gov. Troy Findley and Bunting also hosted a ribbon cutting for the debut of the Crisis City training site, which is a hands-on homeland security public safety training area at the GPJTC. This training venue will allow emergency responders from local, state and federal organizations, including law enforcement, search and rescue teams, medical response teams, public and private industry safety professionals and the National Guard, to train together, conduct exercises and work through realistic disaster scenarios.

Ribbon Cutting held for Crisis City and new Air Guard facility in Salina at Great Plains Joint Training Center – Page 2

Crisis City at the GPJTC includes a completed rail training venue and will also include an engineered concrete rubble pile, urban search and rescue venues, a grain bin for search and rescue training, a farm training venue to provide training for farming and grain silo accidents and a five-story rescue training tower. It will also provide training in military operations and urban terrain.

In-kind contributions of approximately $12 million made the rail venue at Crisis City possible. The locomotive and other rail cars were provided by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. They were moved and the tracks set in place by R.J. Corman Railroad Group. Other contributions of equipment and labor came from Union Pacific Railway Company, Occidental Chemical Corporation, J.R. Simplot Company, Mid-America Car, Inc. and Energy Transportation.

“Kansas is among one of the first states in the country to develop such a training opportunity for our first responders and National Guardsmen to prepare together for disasters," said Bunting.

Great Plains Joint Training Center Future Capabilities

In addition to the Crisis City Rail Venue and the 284th ASOS facility, some additional training capabilities are currently being constructed at the GPJTC. Congressman Jerry Moran secured $3.5 million dollars in funding for the Great Plains Joint Training Center. Specifically, he secured $2.4 million for establishing urban terrain operations which will include military and civilian training components which will be built over the next year, and $1.1 million for refurbishing and providing additional space at the Smoky Hill Range’s operations facility for training, mission planning and debriefing.

Another military training capability at GPJTC, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, provides a potential homeland security response in the future. Combining UAV flights in the GPJTC with the skilled imagery analysts of the Wichita-based 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard provides a unique opportunity to perfect the delivery of real time video and imagery products for first responders during emergencies.

The Vigilant Guard 2009 exercise, held in Salina, Kan., at the Great Plains Joint Training Center’s Crisis City training venue, was the site’s first large-scale exercise which included local, state and federal response partners from throughout Kansas. The scenario involved an explosion resulting in a train derailment and a hazardous chemical spill, which resulted in a second explosion propelling a railcar into a building and causing a building collapse. In the scenario, there was an indication that terrorism was behind the event, which impacted the search and rescue efforts. This derailment portion of the event scenario was carried out at Crisis City’s rail disaster venue which includes an engine and rail cars.