Dover Air Force Base personnel conduct drill in crisis protection

A 436th Security Forces Squadron response force team clears a C-5M Super Galaxy cargo compartment after entering the aircraft from a rear door on Sept. 17 at Dover Air Force Base. The response force team located and neutralized the mock hijacker who was holding mock hostages in the aircraft’s troop compartment. U.S. Air Force photos/Roland Balik

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE — Bomb threats, car crashes, attempted hijackings, hostages, active shooters … these are all situations no one wants, especially on a military installation. But that’s what members of the Team Dover base experienced last week in a drill meant to simulate the reality of a “force protection/major accident response exercise.

Several base personnel were tested in a series of realistic scenarios to evaluate the base’s response to various force protection events, test first and emergency responders, and test the base’s ability to operate under various Force Protection levels.

After six weeks of planning, 436th Airlift Wing Inspector General presented six scenarios during the three-day exercise involving most base agencies, 34 Integrated Base Defense certified individuals and Wing Inspection Team members. That type of exercise is an annual requirement, which demands the synchronization of all involved base agencies in order to maximize training opportunities as well as identify and remedy anything that could be an issue during a real-world incident.

Senior Airman Hakeim McKenzie, driver/operator, and Jeffrey McCombs, fire captain, both assigned to the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, get in position to extinguish a simulated vehicle fire during a Force Protection/Major Accident Response Exercise scenario Sept. 18.

“It’s important to exercise increased force protection condition levels so everybody on base knows what to expect in the event we elevate them for real threats,” said Maj. Brandon Ongna, 436th AW chief of exercises.

Leading into the exercise scenarios, simulated intelligence gathering efforts identified possible mock threats against Dover AFB which prompted base leadership to activate the Crisis Action Team Sunday night and elevate the Force Protection level. The event continued through Tuesday, Sept. 18.

“These exercises take a lot of … inter-agency teamwork … teamwork by the executive staff and our mid-level staff to coordinate these events to make sure we are working together,” said Justin Viens, 436th Security Forces Squadron supervisory police officer.

On Monday morning, the first scenario depicted a mock foreign national pedestrian played by Master Sgt. Patrick Hunt, 436th SFS logistics and readiness superintendent, attempting to illegally access the base. During the scenario, Hunt was confronted and detained by Airman 1st Class Georgie Boyd, 436th SFS response force leader. A search of Hunt revealed a note containing mock intelligence confirming a possible threat against Dover AFB.

Staff Sgt. Allen Riley, 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, takes a prone position on the floor of a C-5M Super Galaxy cargo compartment after entering the aircraft from a rear door on Sept. 17, at Dover Air Force Base.

“As the day progressed, we responded to a suspicious package at the post office,” said Viens. “My role along with Master Sgt. Michael Kohne, 436th SFS flight chief, [was acting] flight leaders for the event. We initially took response and set up as incident commander until we could transfer command to the fire department.”

Later that night, the IG unleashed two more scenarios, the first being a bomb threat prompting the evacuation of Command Post and relocation of personnel, followed by the attempted hijacking of a C-5M Super Galaxy. Numerous vehicles from the Fire Department and SFS surrounded the Super Galaxy as response force members planned their entry method, neutralization of the mock hijacker, and the rescue of any hostages.

“The importance of the exercise is to show that we have the capabilities to handle anything we are thrown, any time, any day, no matter if it is raining, snowing, in the middle of the night or early in the morning,” said Viens.

In the final scenarios, Security Forces were forced to deploy the barrier at the gate when a vehicle ran through the checkpoint. Later they simulated another vehicle running the checkpoint at the north gate, crashing into a bus and erupting into a vehicle fire. These situations tested the response of SFS and Fire Department personnel.

“Overall, the exercise was a success,” said Ongna. “It provided valuable exposure to base personnel and identified lessons-learned that will improve our ability to respond to such emergencies in the future.”

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