News: Active Shield 2013 tests station personnel crisis response, readiness
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian Stevens
IWAKUNI, Japan - U.S. service members came together and took up arms to defend Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni by land, sea and air against an uncommon enemy.
The enemy consisted of Marines and sailors stationed here, operating under code name, “Red Cell.” Units responding and observers evaluating performances operated under code name “White Cell.”
“I get to construct a scenario that tests all of our unit’s capabilities with assistance from subject matter experts from all those entities,” said Lt. Col. Michael J. Carreiro, white cell officer in charge. “During the execution, my job is to make sure that the script plays out. In other words, we present the scenario to the commanding officer and all his staff and they don’t know what the scenario is, they then have to make decisions based on their
knowledge of the base and how they want to win the war.”
Participants overcame situations such as finding suspicious packages, hazardous material spills and a gunman with multiple hostages. Throughout the exercise, multiple events would occur at the same time in an effort to see how many obstacles Active Shield
participants could juggle at once.
“This year, when we sat down, we said, ‘we want to make this the most dynamic, realistic and valuable exercise that we’ve ever experienced on Iwakuni,’” said Carreiro.
“I think in previous years, we certainly had the same objective to get the training, but the scope of imagination wasn’t as wide. It was wide this year because the commanding officer said, ‘I want to be tested to our utmost.’ That gave us a great latitude of activity.”
Like many training events in the Marine Corps, the exercise’s goal is to learn from the mistakes and to improve for the future.
“We are actually still working on all the after-action reports from the different scenarios, but we learned that we can operate on organic forces as an air station,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Baker, a white cell observer. “We also learned where our stress points are and how far we can push ourselves while still being able to accomplish the mission. The task now is utilizing the information we
learned and improving for next year, not to stress ourselves out even more, but to be more efficient as a unit.”
In the end, Marines adapted and overcame every obstacle thrown their way, showing the command, as well as the world, MCAS Iwakuni is ready for anything that may come.