Active shooter exercise provides security, preparation, safety for Misawa
Misawa Air Base, JAPAN -- After the tragic shooting of U.S. military personnel in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16, 2015, the Department of Defense reviewed its force protection policies, programs and procedures to help combat the challenging security environment in which military members operate.
To put this into practice, Misawa AB enacted one of its bi-annual active shooter exercises, July 29, which covered the DOD’s three lines of effort: improving physical and procedural security, improving mass warning and alert notification capabilities, and augmenting security.
“Active shooter incidents are becoming more prevalent in today's world - this is why each and every defender must be prepared and ready at a moment's notice,” said Staff Sgt. Karla Wilson, 35th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant of alpha flight. “Practice makes perfect. Knowing how to improve our strengths and fix our weakness is the best way to prepare for if this were to occur later on.”
The exercise not only challenged and prepared Airmen in the event of a similar real world scenario, but also ensured they have the ability to maintain mission readiness.
“This exercise allows us to put into practice skills vital to the Air Force mission,” said Wilson. “It gauges how knowledgeable and skilled defenders are in situations such as this, and what we can do to improve.”
The wing conducts these exercises with little to no notice, testing the proficiency of each unit involved and readiness of all base personnel.
“It can be difficult to respond in a moment’s notice, however, we conduct exercises such as this for that very reason,” said Wilson. “There's little time to waste and most of what we do is consistently drilled to the point in which we automatically do it through muscle memory.”
Although these exercises only last a few hours, months of planning go into the preparation of each exercise, ensuring every minute detail is reviewed to maintain a safe training environment.
“It takes a long time to plan this; there’s a lot of coordination between the various units involved,” said Master Sgt. Elizabeth Ehrnschwender, 35th Fighter Wing Inspector General self-assessment program manager. “During the initial planning stages of the exercise we did a lot of the behind the scenes work such as coordination, setting up meetings, sending out tasks and planning the master scenario events listing. During the exercise itself, we go out to the scene, make sure people are where they should be, ensure safety and evaluate how everyone responds.”
At the end of the day, Airmen across Misawa pulled together to ensure the safety and protection of every individual on base.
“We know today’s exercise was not easy or fun for the base population to be involved in,” said Ehrnschwender. “But we can’t emphasis enough how important it is to be prepared and to make sure everyone knows their role in case something like this actually happens.”