Aiming for enhanced readiness with a base-wide exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead
  • 103rd Airlift Wing
Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut went on lockdown mid-morning on July 30, 2014, as part of an active-shooter response exercise conducted by the 103rd Airlift Wing.

According to Lt. Col. James Guerrera, anti-terrorism officer for the 103rd Airlift Wing, the exercise is an annual requirement for the wing to practice responding to an aggressor while measuring the reactions and response of base personnel.

"The main goal of this exercise was to identify any blind spots for the commander and identify root causes, thereby allowing us to correct and improve policies and procedures enhancing our readiness, security posture and members' reactions during a real event," said Guerrera.

The exercise consisted of an individual who proceeded through the entry control point at a high rate of speed and entered one of the base's buildings as a simulated active-shooter.
Security forces personnel on base were tasked with responding to the scenario. Their role, according to Senior Master Sgt. Kurt Smith, security forces manager, was to, "get inside that facility as quickly as possible and neutralize the shooter so that he doesn't continue shooting other individuals inside the facility."

"This exercise was unique where all the entry points were locked down and we had to make entry through the loading dock door," said Smith.

Typically, security personnel will head immediately towards the sound of gunshot and engage the shooter, said Smith.

"One benefit of the exercise was providing a first step toward muscle memory," said Senior Master Sgt. Dave Frates, installation emergency manager with the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron. "People will remember the actions they took during the exercise for a long time, and if something were to happen real world, in that panic, they would likely repeat those actions."

Security forces were not the only element of response however. All personnel on base were expected to respond accordingly by escaping, barricading themselves in buildings or fighting the aggressor.

"This isn't really an exercise for security forces; it's an exercise for the entire installation. The quicker you can identify there is a potential hostile situation in your work center the better off you are in protecting yourself and your co-workers," said Smith.

In addition to the security forces response, the base fire department, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel were activated to assist in the exercise.

"Our first responders immediately came together and responded to the threat quickly, taking the necessary actions to identify the threat and locking down the facility," said Guerrera.