LAKE LANIER, Buford, Georgia, March 19, 2016 – After more than a year of planning, the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) recently launched the Lake Lanier Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX)—a first-of-its-kind Multi-Agency Mission involving the GSDF, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGAUX).
The GSDF conducted the Mission, the simulation of a downed 6-person airplane and the Search and Rescue operations this type of emergency would entail. More than a year of detailed logistical and operational planning culminated in March at Lake Lanier.
“This is our first joint exercise,” said Col. W. Brad Bryant, 1st Brigade Commander, GSDF. “It allowed us to develop relationships and hone processes that prepare our agencies to work together efficiently and effectively in an actual emergency situation.”
Lake Lanier is a reservoir encompassing approximately 38,000 acres, including 59 square miles of water. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which has oversight over the lake, provided access to its use for the exercise. Lake Lanier was an ideal spot for the mock scenario—one that allowed GSDF Soldiers to demonstrate reconnaissance expertise, medical preparedness, interaction with Media, and other skills required during an emergency.
Showing strong, more than 100 GSDF Soldiers participated in Lake Lanier SAREX. GSDF Soldiers included those from 1st Brigade, 76th Support Brigade, the Chaplain Corps, and the Public Affairs Office.
So as to more realistically portray an actual emergency, SAREX planners kept detailed tactical information close to the vest until just hours before the Mission began. As planned, they issued an emergency alert that prompted GSDF and CAP teams to spring into action. Teams boarded a boat en-route to the simulated crash scene. Landing lakeside, they quickly debarked, rallying for operations that involved victim role-players in need of medical attention. In addition to boots on the ground, the CAP took to the sky, taking aerial surveillance photographs of the site.
The CAP, a United States Air Force Auxiliary, provides various emergency relief efforts, including Search and Rescue. Involvement from the GSDF, the CAP, and the USCGAUX constituted a multi-agency force of more than 125 ground and aerial participants for the Search and Rescue operation.
“Lake Lanier SAREX was extremely beneficial for the participating organizations,” Col. Bryant said. “Through this exercise, we shared our strengths and maximized our collective capabilities as part of our commitment and our readiness to serve.”