News: Joint Base training exercise critical to enhancing public safety and security
Story by Joseph P Cirone
By: Paul Bello and Joseph P. Cirone
WASHINGTON - Proper emergency training and the exercising of enhanced security procedures are important elements in ensuring public safety and security at any military installation.
For the last two weeks emergency management, first responders and supporting command and staff leaders at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) took part in the annual Navy-wide exercise, Citadel Shield.
Citadel Shield allows Navy installations to evaluate all facets of their emergency response, communications systems, anti-terrorism/force protection procedures, enhanced security measures and emergency management plans. The exercise is not in response to any specific threat or incident.
At JBAB, following a series of different scenarios, the capstone of this year’s exercise was held on Wednesday afternoon, when DOD police officers; firefighters; paramedics and the installation’s Incident Management Team were notified of a suspicious package sighted by a patron at a recreational facility on base and reported to the emergency communications center.
Security posture increased to highest level
JBAB’s DOD police officers quickly secured the area to ensure public safety, while the JBAB-based Naval District Washington Fire and Emergency Services Central Battalion established a Unified Command Post (UCP), from which police, fire and emergency medical services personnel could safely and efficiently operate from and coordinate the efforts of the first responders.
JBAB’s security forces increased the security posture at JBAB and began collecting information to form an operational picture from which JBAB’s leaders could begin making decisions.
The installation’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated, with the Incident Management Team supporting the UCP and interfacing with Mission Partners at JBAB; Naval District Washington’s Regional Operations Center and other authorities.
Upon being briefed on the incident and the information already known, Joint Base Commander, Navy Capt. Anthony T. Calandra, immediately ordered enhanced security measures throughout the base, including raising the force protection level to its highest level until later in the day when the exercise scenario was complete.
The scenario enabled JBAB’s public safety team to not only showcase what they already knew, but enabled them to learn what they can do better.
As with all emergency incidents and exercises, there were lessons learned that lead to improvements in the planning, training, implementation and execution of those plans and methods for future incidents and exercises.
Exercise participation was good and the exercise was an overall success, according to Tim Trammell, director of training and readiness for JBAB.
Budget situation a challenge, available resources used effectively
“With the current budget situation, it’s a challenge to do the kind of full-scale exercise we originally planned, but we made effective use of the resources available. I think everyone did a great job,” Trammell said. “Every exercise we do is different. There were a few things that came to light that we need to improve, but overall we’re very happy with the way everything was conducted.”
Calandra added that communication is critical in real-world situations and exercises like Citadel Shield, which enable the testing of communications elements that together, form important command and control systems.
“We learn from every exercise and real incident we have. Citadel Shield gave us a few ideas and showed us a couple of things that need minor improvements,” Calandra said.
Calandra continued, “One idea we thought of during Wednesday’s scenario, is having an emergency recall for essential personnel to report to the EOC every other month as practice.”
Understanding that taking time away from the normal workday routine to participate in emergency training scenarios and exercises is sometimes a burden, Calandra told members of the Incident Management Team, who were gathered inside the EOC, “I know an exercise like this is disruptive to one’s day, but we’re a military organization – not an office park. It’s necessary to have everyone we need in place, trained and ready to go.”