JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Whatever flood conditions the weather may bring this spring, the North Dakota National Guard will be prepared, according to Brig. Gen. Leo Ryan, commander of the land element of the Guard.
"This is part of us being ready," he said, referring to the "rehearsal of concept" exercise held at the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday, Feb. 13. "It is about chain of command and looking at what assets could be necessary if we are called upon in a flood situation."
A rehearsal of concept exercise is used to develop and refine response plans and maintain readiness for any situation, according to information released by the National Guard to the media.
The exercise brought together about 50 soldiers and airmen from the majority of the units that might be called upon in a flood situation. The exercise was held in Jamestown because of its central location in the state and not because of any particular flood threat, said Col. Tad Schauer, director of military support for the guard.
"We're walking through what communities would need," he said. "We want to make sure we have the units and personnel ready to respond."
As a training aid, a 30-foot-wide map of North Dakota was taped to the floor in one of the meeting rooms in the Civic Center. The map included the Red River and James River basins and the Missouri River system. Various units of the Guard are assigned to respond to problems in each basin.
Ryan said in some cases individuals may be called upon to respond to some requests from communities. For larger requests, entire units may be mobilized. Guard personnel must be requested by the local community leaders and serve in support of the community for the protection of people and property, Ryan said. There are 4,000 members in the Guard in North Dakota.
"It is a scalable response," he said, referring to the fact that the Guard has a variety of response levels. "We can support the operation with as many soldiers and airmen as necessary."
Part of the exercise included intelligence officers creating possible flood scenarios with other officers of the Guard then developing plans to respond.
"We're trying to evaluate for all situations," Ryan said. "If the situations grow outside our capacity, we can call on other states for assistance."
Ryan said the North Dakota National Guard has dealt with floods in the past. As recently as spring 2019, it provided assistance to Cass County, with support in Stutsman County in 2019 and 2020.
"So many of our people have been through this before," he said. "We also recognize things change and communities change. This won't be the same flood fight we've been in previously."