WV Kicks off 2021 Vigilant Guard Exercise


West Virginia kicks off full-scale military-civilian exercise

Governor welcomes participants to West Virginia

VG_Logo_Color_HiRes.jpgCHARLESTON, W.Va. – Several hundred military personnel and first responders from across the U.S. helped launch a national-level, hands-on training exercise Thursday in West Virginia.

Gov. Jim Justice welcomed the Vigilant Guard 2021 participants by video as they began a four-day series of simulated emergencies spanning five counties and multiple scenarios.

This is the first time West Virginia has hosted Vigilant Guard, co-sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau. The West Virginia National Guard and the state Emergency Management Division are coordinating the state's participation.

Exercise activities are slated in Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, and Nicholas counties. The public in these areas may notice an increased presence of first responder and military personnel, aircraft, equipment, and emergency vehicles leading up to and during the exercise.

Vigilant Guard aims to test and hone disaster response by federal, state, and local jurisdictions as well as private sector partners. This year's exercise supposes that a hurricane has stalled over West Virginia. The resulting emergency response scenarios include a train derailment and search-and-rescue operations

“This exercise will demonstrate the incredible abilities of West Virginia's emergency response agencies and show the world how we run to the fire," Gov. Jim Justice said. “As I've said many times, West Virginia is a diamond in the rough, and we're proud to show an audience from around the world what we have to offer. I hope everyone involved stays safe and has a great learning experience!"

Thursday's start began with a simulated activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and its first operational report to the governor, federal and military officials, and other exercise participants.

“While actual exercise play and operations kick off today, more than a year of detailed and exhaustive planning by Guard and EMD personnel has gone into bringing Vigilant Guard to reality," stated Brig. Gen. William “Bill" Crane, Adjutant General of the WVNG.

“This type of hands-on and simulated training exercise is essential to support the development, enhancement, and interoperability of disaster response assets across federal, state, and local jurisdictions," Crane continued. “Working within a joint operations environment helps us all to be better prepared to protect the lives and property of our fellow West Virginians when disasters strike."

More than 300 military personnel, public safety first responders, private sector partners and volunteers are expected to participate in the exercise. Military delegations from Oman, Peru and Qatar, which have partnerships with the West Virginia National Guard, are also on hand for the exercise.

“We train like we fight," said EMD Deputy Director Greg Fuller. “As an emergency responder for over 30 years, there is no better way to learn than to practice in a realistic environment."

Vigilant Guard 2021 in West Virginia comes to a close on Sunday, Aug. 29.


West Virginia Vigilant Guard 2021 Participant List


  • Office of the Governor
  • Governor's Media/Communications Hub
  • WV National Guard
  • WV Emergency Management Division
  • WV Department of Homeland Security
  • WV State Police
  • WV Fusion Center
  • WV Department of Health and Human Resources-Center for Threat Preparedness
  • WV Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation
  • WV State Fire Marshal's Office
  • WV Office of Miners' Health Safety & Training
  • WV Department of Agriculture
  • WV Department of Transportation—Division of Highways

  • US Department of Defense—National Guard Bureau
  • US Northern Command
  • US Central Command
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • ​US Army Central Command
  • US National Weather Service
  • US Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force
  • US National Park Service

    Military delegations representing:
  • Oman
  • Peru
  • Qatar


  • Charleston Fire Department
  • Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department
  • Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department
  • Clay Volunteer Fire Department
  • Belle Volunteer Fire Department
  • Lizemores Volunteer Fire Department
  • Wheeling Fire Department
  • Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority
  • Kanawha County Homeland Security And Emergency Management
  • Braxton County Emergency Management Agency
  • Webster County Emergency Management Agency
  • Doddridge County Emergency Management Agency
  • Mason County Emergency Management Agency
  • Nicholas County Emergency Management Agency

    Non-Governmental Organizations
  • WV Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters
  • American Red Cross
  • Nature's Way
  • Mountaineer Area Rescue Group (MARG)
  • WV K-9 Search and Rescue

    Private Sector
  • TC Energy
  • Kanawha River Railroad
  • West Virginia American Water Company


Contact Information

Lora Lipscomb, WVEMD Public Information Officer