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Disaster Response Training Held At Camp Gruber

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In one training exercise, all two men know is that there is a chemical weapon somewhere inside that has killed two people and injured six more. In one training exercise, all two men know is that there is a chemical weapon somewhere inside that has killed two people and injured six more.
National Guard members from Illinois are dealing with the after-effects of a simulated attack. It has leveled a building and they are searching for survivors. National Guard members from Illinois are dealing with the after-effects of a simulated attack. It has leveled a building and they are searching for survivors.
"(The guys) are having a long day, but a good day," said Lt. Col. Bob Finigan, 63rd Civil Support Team. "(The guys) are having a long day, but a good day," said Lt. Col. Bob Finigan, 63rd Civil Support Team.

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

MUSKOGEE COUNTY -- Hundreds of U.S. Marines and Oklahoma and Illinois National Guard soldiers are at Camp Gruber to prepare for the unthinkable.

Members of the military are in the middle of several days of disaster training at Camp Gruber near Braggs.

In one training exercise, all two men know is that there is a chemical weapon somewhere inside that has killed two people and injured six more. About 30 minutes later, they emerge with the device, and are promptly disinfected.

"(The guys) are having a long day, but a good day," said Lt. Col. Bob Finigan, 63rd Civil Support Team.

On the other side of Camp Gruber, National Guard members from Illinois are dealing with the after-effects of a simulated attack. It has leveled a building and they are searching for survivors.

"You've got people inside that may be injured or worse yet, dead, and we have to go in and find those people and extract them," said Brig. Gen. Robert Pratt, Illinois National Guard.

The exercises are part of what Camp Gruber is calling "Operation Joint Eagle." Hundreds of Guard Members and Marines from as far away as Maryland will spend several days here simulating Weapons of Mass Destruction attacks and natural disasters.

"You can't predict everything that will happen, but you come across about 90 percent of the time there are common skills and knowledge you need to have," said Lt. Col. Bob Finigan.

While they are grisly scenarios, it's what the soldiers signed up for and their superiors say this type of training can make all the difference.

"The soldiers are excited. Any time they can get hands on, a soldier's happy," said Brig. Gen. Robert Pratt.

The National Guard says it has learned a great deal from disasters like Hurricane Katrina and as a result, puts a great deal of emphasis on communication during the exercises.

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