Leveled buildings, crashed cars, and flooded streets are now part of the landscape at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex near North Vernon. Once known as the Indiana Farm Colony for Feeble Minded Youth, this site is now a battlefield simulator for a post 9/11 world.
Nearly 10,000 soldiers and civilian emergency responders are descending on the south-central Indiana base for a nationwide disaster training drill where the Army has simulated the aftermath of a small nuclear detonation.
The simulation going on now through mid-August is run by the Army’s U.S. Northern Command. All five branches of the military are participating in the disaster drill, along with numerous local police, fire, and EMS units.
Major Joshua Paul heads up a medical detachment unit out of Fort Lewis-McCord in Tacoma Washington. He says the training helps his troops develop the skills and cooperation they need for a real emergency situation.
“We get to test communications. We get to test our equipment. We get to test our operating procedures,” he says. “It’s a pretty incredible A-Z operation.”
In addition to maneuvers at Muscatatuck, there are also venues at Camp Atterbury near Columbus, and other smaller sites across the state. In total, the coordinated simulation covers more than 5,000 square miles.