NAS Fallon prepares for the worst

Last Updated : 5/26/2011 10:22:23 AM

For most, anti-terrorism measures just mean it is slower getting through the gate at the base. But for the Security Department and other emergency responders, the chance to practice the "what if's" of a terrorist attack may make a huge difference in how they respond should the real thing ever occur.

During the week of 22-25 February, Naval Air Station Fallon participated in Exercise Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield 2011, a regional Navy Force Protection exercise designed to enhance the readiness of Naval Security Forces.

The series of exercises are conducted at Navy bases throughout the United states and even in Guam, with reporting requirements being coordinated through Fleet Forces Command and Navy Installations Command.

Here in Fallon, the exercise included several scenarios that tested our Security Forces on their responses and ability to handle the stresses of extreme situations while executing the proper security measures.

On Tuesday morning, a group of protestors marched on the main gate of the base. They were actually members of the Churchill County High School Drama Club, carrying hand-lettered signs. Chanting slogans in response to a leader with a bullhorn, their depiction of an actual protest group was spot on. While the security team was figuring out how to manage the "protest", things took a turn for the worse: three of the protesters broke off from the group and started throwing simulated Molotov cocktails at passing cars. In a staged escalation, a pickup truck was set alight, and even the guard house was firebombed. Although all the fires were notional, the use of smoke generators and streamered-water bottles added to the realism for both the Security Personnel and the Fed Fire responders. Confusion was added to the scenario when an "off-duty policeman" apprehended the rogue protestors and a woman sustained notional injuries fleeing the "burning" truck.

The scenarios are the culmination of about eight months of work. "When you do a scenario and you put in a lot of time and effort - people think it's real. That makes it all worth it," said Chris Pierce, NAS Fallon's Training Officer.

Other events during the week-long set of drills included several active shooter scenarios, and a multiple suspicious package situation that required Explosive Ordnance Disposal bomb technicians to blow up a suitcase.

One of the objectives of the exercises is to test the command and control capabilities of both the responders and the base. During many of the drills, the Emergency Operations Center in Building 800 was activated and staffed with command leadership and support personnel providing liaison to various base departments and outside agencies.

"Yearly exercises such as Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield are designed to test and evaluate our force protection and emergency response capability. The realism provided in this year's event will serve to strengthen our ability respond to any situation, said NAS Fallon's Executive officer, Cdr. Otto Sieber. "The NAS Fallon Team, tenants and dependants can rest knowing we are prepared."

The Training Department would like to thank Churchill County High School, the Churchill County Sherriff's Office, and the Lyon County Sherriff's Office for their support. Also, the Fleet and Family Service Center and the Child Development Center were instrumental in the success of the exercise.

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