MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
The 167th Airlift Wing hosted a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) course here, Feb. 21 and 22.
The purpose of HSEEP is to provide guiding principles for exercise programs. It offers a common approach to exercise program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation and improvement planning.
Maj. Gina Nichols, commander of the 35th Civil Support Team, and Capt. Joshua Dodson, also with the 35th CST, conducted the course for approximately 20 attendees including members from the 167th inspector general office, emergency management, fire department, security forces and local agencies.
Training exercises play a very important role in national preparedness by testing and validating plans and capabilities.
Nichols said the HSEEP methodology for training exercises is used throughout the state by military and civilian organizations.
“Local agencies use this common format because it is identified by FEMA to help improve processes and gain funding,” said Lt. Col. Paul Henry, director of inspections at the 167th.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Bittinger, a 167th wing inspection team member, said, “By using HSEEP we are using the same standards which enables us to more effectively jointly exercise with outside agencies.”
Henry said having subject matter experts from around the 167th attend the course allows everyone to be on the same page in regards to the format and organization of future training exercises here.
According to Tech. Sgt. Justin Bird, a 167th bioenvironmental engineer, the class split into working groups to create an exercise. Course participants were given a background scenario and had to design an exercise.
“Each one of us was able to add to the scenario based on the knowledge of our career field,” said Bird.
Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Blood, a member of the 167th emergency management office, said, “Realizing that FEMA has an HSEEP toolkit site with templates for nearly every step in this process was a big positive.”