News: JBER forces test, sharpen skills in base-wide exercise
Story by Airman Ty-Rico Lea
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson personnel practiced securing buildings, communicating in crisis situations, protecting operational security, and engaging an active shooter - all part of Exercise Polar Force 13-5, July 22-24.
This exercise involved 673d Air Base Wing, 3rd Wing airmen and Department of Defense civilian employees.
The exercise was done to test, strengthen and develop the necessary skills all airmen need when faced with adverse situations.
Some scenarios included securing buildings to maintain security and personnel safety, operational security, using communication in strenuous circumstances and engaging an active shooter.
“Our outstanding security forces responded instantaneously to diffuse the simulated threat and save as many lives possible during the exercise,” said Air Force Col. Frank Battistelli, 673d Mission Support Group commander. “They contained the area occupied by the gunman, evacuated innocent victims and ultimately neutralized the gunman.”
Battistelli said there is a very real purpose for this type of training.
“An active shooter situation is probably one of the most likely scenarios our base could encounter,” Battistelli said. “If you consider active shooter incidents our country has been faced with over the last several years, there were very few warning signs. Exercises like this situation do several things: first it better prepares our defenders to respond to these situations in a variety of settings, next it allows us to test the interagency response between our installation, state and national agencies, and finally it better prepares the JBER community on how they should respond during an active shooter crisis.”
A JBER Polar Force exercise typically includes two phases, but for the Polar Force 13-5 exercise only phase one was conducted. Phase one was designed to test JBER's ability to deploy and redeploy people as well as mobilize equipment.
“We conduct exercises on a regular basis to ensure readiness,” said Donald Weckhorst, 673d ABW executive director.
“This prepares us to to respond to a variety of contingency or crisis situations” said Weckhorst. “In our case, the commanders of the 673d ABW, 3rd WG, 176 WG and 477 Fighter Group came together and built an overall plan that enhances teamwork and readiness in our airmen. This is truly one of the unique aspects of JBER.”
“The exercise provided an outstanding venue to hone contingency response skills and processes,” Weckhorst said. “In this case, the 673d ABW and 3rd WG airmen worked together to generate and deploy assets under realistic conditions and timelines. These types of exercises ensure our airmen are prepared to execute their initial response actions and are an invaluable part of the commander's overall training programs.”