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Ref: Indiana exercises nuclear response


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Indiana training center to expand, simulate nuclear detonation


April 17, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS - A major training exercise designed to simulate the response to a nuclear detonation is planned next month at a southern Indiana military training center - a site getting a $100 million renovation to help soldiers prepare for urban warfare and disasters.

The revamped Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County will replicate a city environment where up to 40,000 active and reserve soldiers can train each year by the time the expansion is completed in 2012, officials said Tuesday. Total employment on the site could grow from 70 today to 290 by 2012.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said the renovated site will give an economic boost to the county while providing the nation with an important urban training facility.

"Muscatatuck is going to be a new economic anchor for the area in southeastern Indiana around it," Daniels said.

One of the first major training exercises at the site will be held from May 10-18. The drill will simulate the response to a nuclear device going off in a major metropolitan area.

In this case, Indianapolis is the target, so city and Marion County firefighters and police officers will drive about 75 miles southeast to Muscatatuck for the training scenario. The exercise will also involve deploying more than 1,000 National Guard soldiers from Indiana and surrounding states and more federal responders. Civilians could also play roles as "victims" of the nuclear detonation, officials said.

Eventually, Muscatatuck could be home to up to 10 major training events each year, said Brig. Gen. Cliff Tooley, Joint Forces Deputy Commander for the Indiana National Guard.

Brig. Gen. Tom Maffey, director of training for the Department of Army, said the Army expects future U.S. military operations to include large urban areas and that soldiers need to training to fight in them.

"There is a pressing need for urban training ventures of a scale, size and complexity that exceeds anything available today," Maffey said. "That's why the Army committed the resources to turn (Muscatatuck) into a first class training venue."

The National Guard in 2005 took over the former Muscatatuck State Developmental Center, which housed and cared for the mentally disabled, with plans to transform it into a training site for civilian and military organizations.

"From the beginning, our vision has been to transform Muscatatuck into a national center of excellence for urban training," said Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard.

Daniels planned to go to Muscatatuck Tuesday to further discuss the announcement, but said Jennings County officials have been pleased about the new investment.

"People in the area are very excited to see a rebirth of the Muscatatuck facility and a proud mission - just as proud as its previous mission - to serve our fellow citizens in a new capacity," he said.

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