RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank J. Grass, is visiting the 29th annual Golden Coyote training exercise today in western and central South Dakota.
Hosted by the South Dakota Army National Guard and held in the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park – the two-week exercise provides National Guard, Reserve and active-duty military units with relevant training opportunities in support of overseas contingency operations and homeland defense.
For two days, Gen. Grass will see one of the largest National Guard operated exercises in the country, and will see units train on their equipment and employ tactics, as well as complete various humanitarian service and engineer projects that help improve the forest and infrastructure of many local communities.
This year, more than 3,500 service members from 55 units representing 22 states and four allied nations are participating in the exercise. Units come from multiple branches of military service – Army, Navy and Air Force – to conduct combat support and combat service support missions in a realistic environment and work together to create an invaluable training experience.
Today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff member visited Soldiers conducting humanitarian service and engineer missions at Lower Brule and Fort Thompson. Gen. Grass met with members of the 730th Area Support Medical Company, SDARNG, who are conducting a medical readiness training exercise in partnership with the Lower Brule Indian Health Services. The unit provided immunizations, physicals and health education to IHS patients.
Gen. Grass also had the opportunity to see Soldiers from the 1195th Transportation Company, Nebraska Army National Guard, deliver and unload forest timber to members of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe at Fort Thompson.
The timber-haul mission provides for the transportation of forest wood to many Native American communities throughout western and central South Dakota for heating, construction and ceremonial use.
In addition to the community service projects, Gen. Grass will see service members participate in numerous warrior training tasks and battle drills during the exercise, such as urban combat operations, land navigation, first aid, casualty evacuation, and day and night convoy operations. This provides a valuable opportunity for units to train on skills needed for any future overseas deployment.
Missions for the Golden Coyote exercise are mainly conducted throughout the Black Hills and surrounding area, both in local urban areas and remote wilderness sites. The exercise began June 8 and continues until June 22. This year, exercise participants are also conducting missions at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., in partnership with the Wyoming Army National Guard.