News: MPs hone active shooter response
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Military police soldiers from Multinational Battle Group East recently received training in how to respond to an active shooter situation at Camp Bondsteel. The training, conducted May 14-16, is part of a Department of Defense-wide program implemented in the wake of the 2009 shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas.
“Based off the Fort Hood shooting, the Department of Defense and Department of the Army have mandated that all MP forces throughout [the military] conduct active shooter training,” said Maj. David Mazi, Area Support Team (AST) Balkans director of security, plans & operations. “There is a specific training support package provided, and we have provided aspects of that the last three days to various sections of the MPs.”
The soldiers were given classroom and hands-on training before moving on to the practical portion, which included exercises at the room-clearing training facility here as well as scenarios in actual buildings around the post.
The goal of the "shoot house" is to give the soldiers a better idea of how an actual situation might unfold.
“It just reinforced the fact that it’s very chaotic in there,” Sgt. Alexander Henninger, a military policeman, said of the training. “Sometimes you have to - as quickly as you can - take a deep breath and remain under control, calm and in control of the situation and think everything through.”
Mazi said that the training is important for MPs, because many of them don’t have extensive civilian law enforcement experience, and even if they did, the realities of a deployed military environment bring additional difficulties you won't necessarily find in the civilian world. As a result, the training conducted at Camp Bondsteel needed to be modified to account for a deployed environment.
“All the active shooter training directives that come out of DoD and DA are specific to a police response to a situation where you have a large quantity of unarmed civilians, whether it’s a school house or a shopping center,” said Mazi. “Obviously we don’t have either of those here at Camp Bondsteel, and we don’t have any unarmed civilians here except for AST personnel and our local nationals and DA civilians. Everyone, all the troop-contributing nations and U.S. troops here are armed 24/7 and they have their ammunition with them.”
This presents a unique challenge for MPs responding to an active shooter situation. They are tasked with identifying and taking down the threat, but may arrive on scene where a bystander has already engaged the suspect.
“Everyone has the right to defend themselves, we want you to defend yourself,” said Mazi. "But my biggest fear is the MPs coming around the corner and all they see is the bystander who is putting down the suspect, but the only person they see doing the shooting is the bystander, and of course they’re going to open fire on that bystander.”
If someone finds themselves in a situation where they need to act to defend themselves and others from an active shooter, Mazi says, “the moment that suspect is down, you yourself need to get on the ground as well and don’t move. The MPs are en route and they need to clear the facility, they need to clear everyone involved," he said. "Engage your target, put the target down, and then you yourself get on the ground and don’t move until the MPs have cleared you.”
A major point in the training focused on being mindful of this reality, Mazi said.
“That’s what this training is all about, is to give them an idea of the mindset that they need to present themselves in, some of the tactics, and prepare them as best we can with the resources we have for this type of circumstance.
“The problem with this is it is a perishable skill, it needs to be practiced on a quarterly, if not monthly, basis," he added. "It’s more than just simple infantry tactics.”.
Henninger agreed that continual training is necessary.
“The first time we did a run through, with someone actually kicking the wall to simulate gunfire, we got in there and as soon as we saw the first doors everything kind of fell apart a little bit. It stresses the importance that you fall back on your training and rely on what you’ve been taught and you continue to practice.”
Date Posted:05.18.2012 07:11
Location:CAMP BONDSTEEL, ZZ
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