National Guard August 2011 : Page 50
Street Smarts By Andrew Waldman H ow th e Indiana Gua r d tu r n e d a sc h ool f or th e d e v elo p me nta lly di s ab le d int o th e nati o n’ s p rem i er u r ban t r aining fa c i l it y 50 T FIRST GLANCE, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) in southeastern Indiana looks like a wreck. Bulldozers push piles of rubble. A sizeable junkyard plays home to decimated helicopters, cars and construction equipment. Large steel storage containers squat here and there. And a giant hole half-ﬁlled with water sits near the facility’s command post. But ask anyone walking around Muscatatuck about the mess and they will tell you that it’s all by design. “That’s the way we like it,” says Lt. Col. R. Dale Lyles, the site commander. “We want this city to be distressed.” A | Na tional Guard
How the Indiana Guard turned a school for the developmentally disabled into the nation's premier urban training facility
AT FIRST GLANCE, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) in southeastern Indiana looks like a wreck.
Bulldozers push piles of rubble. A sizeable junkyard plays home to decimated helicopters, cars and construction equipment. Large steel storage containers squat here and there.
And a giant hole half-filled with water sits near the facility's command post.
But ask anyone walking around Muscatatuck about the mess and they will tell you that it's all by design.
"That's the way we like it," says Lt. Col. R. Dale Lyles, the site commander. "We want this city to be distressed."
It's a city, that's for sure. It has a residential area, a parking garage–although it's collapsed–a farm, a hospital, a school, a soccer field, a prison, a religious center and a working convenience store.
It has everything but a permanent population on its 1,000 acres.
The point of the facility, says Lyles, is that it can be set up for anything that any unit might need for training.
Many National Guard units train here for domestic disaster response and urban warfare. But other units also use MUTC for training, including the active-component Army, the Marines, various first responders, the State Department and even Navy SEALs.
And it has been praised by many who have seen it, including senior military officials. The facility is truly one of a kind, and it belongs to the Indiana National Guard.
HISTORY OF MUSCATATUCK
To fully understand Muscatatuck, one must revisit its history.
The site was originally developed in 1919 for the Farm Colony for Feeble Minded Youth, a residential treatment facility for males with mental illnesses who did not have a guardian or personal caregiver.
More than 70 buildings were eventually erected at Muscatatuck to house, educate, feed, train and care for as many as 2,000 patients with developmental disabilities.
By the 1980s, it became known as the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center. But the treatment trend nationwide for people with develop- mental disabilities was shifting from large facilities to group houses. The client population slowly dwindled and the facility lost its federal funding. There also were reports of physical and sexual abuse.
Gov. Frank O'Bannon ordered the facility shuttered in 2000, a process that took five years.
By its closure, Muscatatuck had become its own self-sustaining town, with its own power plant and independent water treatment systems, underground utility tunnels, hospital, school, dining hall, residential areas and other shops and various buildings.
The Guard began eyeing the facility even before it shut down. Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the Indiana adjutant general, says he became concerned with the state of urban training after he spoke to some Guardsmen returning from Iraq in 2004.
"Almost to the soldier, the comment was, 'Sir, we need more urban training,'" he says.
Umbarger says he and other officers had wondered even before how they could better train Guardsmen for urban environments, including here at home in the event of a terrorist attack.
"It really began after 9/11, when we were looking at how we would support training for homeland training tasks," says Maj. Gen. Omer Tooley Jr., the Indiana assistant adjutant general, who helped develop MUTC. "We didn't really have any urban capability."
In the case of Muscatatuck, luck was on the side of the Guard. Tooley says an Indiana Guardsman alerted the leadership to the closing of the facility.
"We went down there just to look at it, and what we found was something of a self-contained city," Tooley says.
And it was in good condition, says Umbarger.
"It looked to me like a battalion urban training facility, almost a brigade-level. There is nothing like it in the Army," he says. "The cost to build something like it would be astronomical. When I saw it, I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, this would be perfect.'"
Umbarger invited some of the top Army brass to tour the facility. He invited Gen. Dan McNeill, then the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, and Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, then commander of First U.S. Army.
"When they were coming, they thought they might be seeing a pipe dream," he says. "When they came, they said that this was really special."
Umbarger and Tooley then presented their plan to Gen. Richard Cody, then the Army vice chief of staff, to see if the Army could financially support the project. Cody was excited about the prospects, and promised to lend a hand.
In 2007, the service formally agreed to invest $100 million to develop MUTC through 2012.
It wasn't long after his initial tour of the Muscatatuck center that Umbarger also started chatting with state and local leaders about using the area as a training center. Residents of Jennings County, the southeastern Indiana county in which MUTC sits, were receptive.
Gov. Mitch Daniels also liked the idea, so much so that he agreed to fund 40 state employees to care for the facility for two years while the Guard developed its plans and secured federal money.
Tooley says the Indiana Guard's specific plans for MUTC were born out of studying what military and civilian agencies said they needed in an urban training setting. Muscatatuck had plenty of buildings, but a way was needed to transform what looked and felt like a college campus in 2005 into the distressed city that it is today.
It helped that MUTC essentially operates off the civilian grid. This enables the Indiana Guard to control nearly every aspect of the training area. It also helped that Guardsmen are pretty good at making something out of nothing.
Today, the Indiana Guard usually acts as a host when other agencies come to MUTC to train. Each visiting organization brings all of its equipment and trainers; the facility staff sets up what is needed for an exercise.
"As part of the business plan, we use what's called a 'stone soup' approach," says Tooley. "Because we operate as a multiagency system, we ask them to contribute to the effort."
The MUTC crew acts much like a real city government during exercises. Lyles is the mayor, the accounting department is the city finance department, the post fire crew acts as local firefighters, and so on.
When "locals" are needed, members of neighboring communities are hired to be disaster victims, residents or even prisoners.
Training at MUTC is unlike that in one of the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facilities built on an active-component installation. Exercise participants don't arrive on post to bunk up and prepare for the exercise.
Instead, they set up a forward operating base at an airfield nearby and drive to MUTC, just like they might do in a disaster situation. This requires the coordination of the equipment, personnel and supplies along the way, all of them good training opportunities.
"This is a city, and you can't just be in it" when a disaster strikes, says Lyles.
All training is done in what Lyles calls "free play." The development of a training scenario varies as the whims of the actors and MUTC staff change, or as those training react to different situations.
When a large-scale operation is in session, anything can happen, Lyles says. In the past, people have been taken hostage at the MUTC convenience store. It's written into the store's lease agreement, so it's not a problem.
Navy SEALs, who use the facility often, are known for "including" people who wander into their training area.
"We consider this a real-world city, so everything is in play," says Lyles.
That includes the command staff.
"If the Navy SEALs wanted a scenario in which someone blew down my door and [took] me hostage, they could do that," he says.
Guardsmen appreciate the training they receive at the facility. A group of Indiana Guardsmen from the state's chemical, biological, radiological/ nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) enhanced-response force package were training on extraction techniques in MUTC's collapsed parking garage–a multistory hulking concrete structure filled with smashed cars–in early May.
"This is in depth," said Spc. Jason Bedwell, who was part of that exercise. "It's really great because it actually looks like they collapsed a parking garage."
MUTC is constantly developing. While the original buildings of the facility are used, new structures have been built.
The crater in the middle of town is actually manmade. The Guard is constructing houses inside of it and can flood it in order to simulate flood rescues.
Part of the "stone soup" approach Tooley talks about is also used when updating the facility.
Guardsmen who work at MUTC use their local knowledge in order to acquire bits and pieces that could be used in the facilities.
That led to Muscatatuck getting a set of iron bars from an old jailhouse in Indiana. At no cost, Tooley says, the Guard went in and took out the iron, which is now installed in the "prison" at MUTC.
And Guard leaders have preserved much of the facility's history. Once the Guard took over Muscatatuck, troops sorted through the things that were left behind.
Staff Sgt. Brad Staggs, the MUTC public affairs officer and museum curator, says what was found suggested that the previous staff just locked the doors and walked away.
The hospital was fully stocked. Patient files remained, along with many artifacts, which are on display in the new Muscatatuck museum.
The museum is in one of the former physician's homes and documents the long and sometimes controversial history of the site. One of the crown jewels of the collection is a rare Baldwin square grand piano dating from the 1860s. It was donated to the hospital years ago.
Another project underway is an underground subway station which will include old subway cars from Chicago.
"Again, we operate to keep the cost to a minimum, and our guys are pretty good scroungers," says Tooley. "People are contributing things to us that add flavor to this thing versus us trying to hire contractors."
Lyles says that surveillance and recording equipment in the training buildings will soon be used in after-action reviews so that those training can review their performances.
The facility develops as operational needs change, says Tooley.
"It's become more and more relevant as everyone became conscious that the world has become more urbanized," he says. "It became very relevant based on our current operations worldwide."
MUTC is capable of supporting training exercises for those who are deploying overseas. One of the old buildings was converted into an "embassy," and a street with terraced housing reminiscent of Middle Eastern architecture has been constructed.
Plus, it's where all agribusiness development teams train. The facility has a fully functioning farm complete with livestock. And, with the assistance of partners at Purdue and Indiana universities, the ADTs get training in agriculture, cultural traditions and languages before they deploy to Afghanistan.
The volume of training is steady, according to Lyles, with the facility booked solid for the near future.
Many Guardsmen trained in May at the 2011 Ardent Sentry exercise. Several different training scenarios were completed simultaneously by different units in response to the simulated earthquake.
And it's a value. Tooley says that for every Title 10 dollar that the federal government puts into MUTC, customers who use the place are providing $18.50 by bringing their own gear and training staff.
The versatility of the site is one that both Umbarger and Tooley believe only the Guard can achieve. Due to its resident expertise in domestic response as well as combat operations, the Guard can complete this training mission better than the active component, which is "locked into one category" of mission, Tooley says.
"When you leverage that, the human capital of the Guard and the many hats we wear," he says, "only the Guard could bring this together."
Andrew Waldman can be contacted at (202) 408-5892 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the Numbers Muscatatuck Urban Training Center
1,000 acres 120+ training structures 2,000+ rooms 1 seven-story building 1 five-story building 20 three-story buildings 16 two-story buildings 6 split-level buildings 14 single-level buildings 9 buildings with basements 1 mile of searchable tunnels 9 miles of roads 1 sports stadium 1 180-acre reservoir
"There is nothing like it in the Army. The cost to build something like it would be astronomical."
–Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger
Indiana adjutant general
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