National Guard’s Golden Coyote Exercise Underway


The South Dakota National Guard’s annual training exercise called Operation Golden Coyote is underway, and Guard units are working on community projects including one in the southern Hills. 

The National Guard is building a road into the new addition of Wind Cave National Park in its southeast corner. Right now, the only access is a trail. Wind Cave needs a real road, and the National Guard has agreed to take on the job.  

Community enhancement projects such as this are just what has made the National Guard as an organization so valuable over the years. Citizens soldiers, working within their communities, and sharpening their skills at the same time. 

One of the challenges of a modern army is the task of moving and coordinating the enormous amount of stuff that accompanies each unit. An engineer unit like this one, is equipped with dozens of backhoes, bulldozers, graders, and, of course trucks.  
The troops also need food, water, fuel and supplies.  Getting it there, to the right location, on time, is a big job. 

“It’s a difficult task.  We break it up and delegate as much as possible to make sure that everything comes together,” Captain Brian Schaff said. 

Second Lieutenant Andrew Hanson is the officer in charge of the road project itself. He relies on some experienced heavy equipment operators who do the same job in civilian life. 

“And they do this on a daily basis. So, they bring that wealth of knowledge with them to do this job and help train our younger soldiers,” Hanson said.

Specialist Isaac Grassel says the big benefit of the project is that it gives personnel the chance to get their hands on the equipment. 

“Getting the newest members into the equipment itself, because a lot of our training outside of this is just moving that equipment it’s not actually utilizing it,” Grassel said.

“Oh, it’s absolutely a great opportunity to train,” said Specialist Quinn Lewis. 

For the management of Wind Cave National Park, the road will open up new ways to utilize this new part of the park.  

“It shows you the value of partnerships. We can’t just do a project like this by ourselves,” said Tom Farrell, Chief of Interpretation at Wind Cave. 

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