HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (June 20, 2016) – Tennessee National Guard soldiers set up road blocks and patrolled nearby the Old Hickory Dam Powerhouse this morning to protect the facility during a security assistance exercise in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.
As part of one of the largest statewide disaster preparedness exercises in Tennessee state history, the military presence at the hydroelectric power generating plant on the Cumberland River served to bring together state and federal officials to support an exercise scenario where access to the facility was compromised.
National Guard officials coordinated with Corps of Engineers leaders at the dam first thing in the morning and determined where to stage the soldiers and deploy patrols along the riverbank.
Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, Nashville District commander, said the powerhouse is important because of the electricity it provides to local communities, and cooperating with the Tennessee National Guard to ensure only authorized personnel gain entry is very important if any of the entry protocols were ever compromised.
“As commander, I’m real excited about the great relationship we have with the Tennessee National Guard and its senior leaders and working together to keep America’s infrastructure secure,” Murphy said.
The security assistance exercise is part of Tennessee Maneuvers 16, the largest emergency response exercise in state history. The activities at Old Hickory Dam drew interest from emergency managers and National Guard officials given the planning efforts with the Corps of Engineers’ emergency managers and the National Guard’s ability to provide security assistance during emergencies.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey H. Holmes, deputy adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard, arrived at Old Hickory Dam onboard a Blackhawk helicopter to visit the project site and to meet with soldiers participating in the security assistance exercise. He met with the Nashville District commander, but also stopped at a security checkpoint below the switchyard near the powerhouse for an exercise update from 1st Lt. Sabrina Rumpf, officer in charge of securing the facility and platoon leader with the 269th Military Police Company, 117th Military Police Battalion, 194th Engineer Brigade.
Holmes said being on the ground during the exercise and meeting with Corps of Engineers and National Guard leadership allowed him to gain valuable insight on the flow of command information and even to see where things could be improved during future Tennessee Maneuvers exercises and real-world events.
"It's great to support our state and federal partners like the Corps of Engineers and to create beneficial relationships rather than exchanging business cards," Holmes said. "The National Guard's response demonstrates the organization's unique capabilities under the coordination of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to secure and protect key infrastructure like the powerhouse at Old Hickory Dam."
Rumpf said the training exercise will help the 10 soldiers that participated to get better at communicating with civilian counterparts.
“I thought my guys did a great job at adjusting to tasks given out as we received more information throughout the morning,” Rumpf said.
She also appreciated the general’s visit and his interest in what they were doing to secure the area and protect the facility and the people working at the dam.
“I think the conversation I had with Maj. Gen. Holmes was great. He was very approachable and willing to listen to any comments or concerns we may have had,” Rumpf said. “He made sure we knew what we were doing and asked plenty of questions on how we were approaching certain tasks and asked about the dissemination of information from Joint Force Headquarters.”
Jerry Breznican, Nashville District Emergency Management chief, worked with state officials to plan the exercise and said everyone involved will identify where things went well and take a look at lessons learned to improve processes.
The exercise is also part of America’s PrepareAthon, a national campaign led by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency with Department of Defense participation and planning efforts, which provides organizations opportunities to increase preparedness and minimize vulnerabilities to disasters and emergencies.
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