Malmstrom trains with local, state, federal agencies for worst case nuclear scenarios

The Air Force continued its effort to train with local, state and federal agencies during an exercise in Chouteau County this week.

This year’s Local Integrated Response Plan exercise involved about 500 people, 19 agencies and a scenario involving an attack on a nuclear convoy. This year, 50 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were participating in the scenario.

The exercise is an annul event and part of the Local Integrated Response Plan, which is a presidential policy directive requiring an integrated force for any nuclear incident response plan.

Malmstrom, law enforcement and other agencies train for “very bad day”

Since 2011, Malmstrom Air Force Base officials and local law enforcement agencies have been working to create plans and coordinate resources to help each other out should there be a nuclear incident.

1st Lt. Brian Hansen was the convoy commander with security forces during the exercise and said it was “creating and strengthening relationships with local law enforcement.”

Chouteau County Undersheriff Larry Ophus said he and his staff hadn’t participated in the exercise in the past and was happy to work with the Air Force this year.

“It’s good to see how they work,” he said. “So we can understand what we need to do.”

Chouteau County sent Ophus, several deputies and dispatchers to Tuesday’s tabletop session and to participate in the scenario Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s nice to know what our responsibilities will be and what they expect of us,” Ophus said. “It’s nice to see how they play. There are faces we haven’t seen. It’s good to see them and get to know them.”

Stan Moody, security plans manager at Malmstrom, said the exercise has expanded each year and the goal is to host the event in each of the seven counties that host missile sites.

Last year the exercise was in Teton County, the year before in Judith Basin County. Other counties with missile sites include Cascade, Fergus, Lewis and Clark and Wheatland.

This year also included a larger contingent from the Department of Energy, Moody said.

“The last thing we want is if an incident happens to just be meeting each other,” Moody said.

Hospitals and ambulances also played in the exercise since a nuclear incident would likely stretch those response systems and resources as well as those of government agencies.

Each year, they’ve tweaked the scenario and incorporated lessons learned, plus focusing on areas of weakness, such as communication since different agencies speak a different language, Moody said.