Wing participates in state-wide exercise
By Senior Airman Nathanial Taylor, 167AW/PA
/ Published September 10, 2013
Martinsburg, W.Va. -- The 167th Airlift Wing participated in a state-wide anti-terrorism exercise on base in mid-August.
Nine Army installations and two Air Wings in the Mountain State as well as multiple local, state and federal agencies were involved in the planning and execution of the drill on the morning of Aug. 15.
According to Capt. Timothy Rice, the 167th anti-terrorism officer, the exercise is part of a five-year, comprehensive plan that aims to increase the state's awareness and response capabilities as a whole.
"We are in the second year now of the five-year plan that is gradually increasing the level of cooperation between agencies throughout the state and with various federal agencies," Rice said.
"In the first two years, everything is more internal. Each agency is required to get their plans together and run things more themselves," he said. "During years three, four and five, we will be working even more closely with outside agencies and other installations in the state."
Adding: "Ultimately, in the fifth year, the Department of Homeland Security will be running the exercise."
While each base is currently responsible for creating their own individual scenario, each event that took place during the exercise was part of a larger plot coordinated by the state headquarters in Charleston, Rice said.
"We receive intelligence all week leading up to the exercise from state headquarters in Charleston that relates to the state-wide scenario, which incorporates the individual events that are simulated at the 11 different installations the day of the drill," Rice said. "There will be different information we receive that gives us a baseline of what's going on and it cumulates in the actual event."
"Part of the exercise is us as a wing, evaluating the information and determining what we need to do in order to adapt to the current conditions," he said.
According to Rice, each base has the benefit of tailoring their scenario to where they feel they need the most training.
"Our objectives are going to be different then some of the other installation's objectives because we know what we need to work on," he said.
For Rice, the biggest benefit of having a state-wide scenario as opposed to 11 individual events is the skill and experience gained from coordinating with the multiple entities involved.
"When a single base has a real-world incident you are more apt to manage it if you train to coordinate multiple jurisdictions with multiple incidents at one time," he noted.
"It allows us to look at the short-falls that we have and gives us an opportunity as a state and as a wing to analyze them and correct them."
"Another very important key is that this type of collaboration gives us a familiarity with individuals and assets that we don't work with every day," Rice said. "It opens up communication across that state and allows us to learn what others need."
According to Rice, the technical skills involved in the actual execution of the drill and the way the base responds to it is beneficial in almost any real-world incident; a sentiment echoed by the wing's emergency manager Senior Master Sgt. David Stevens.
"These types of exercises allow us to develop people in areas that they don't get exposed to everyday," Stevens said. "We train individuals in this environment so they know what to do in a time of crisis. It's better to teach them what they need to do in a training venue three or four times a year then to put them in a real-world event and have them fail."
Adding: "Every facet that is tested is tested no matter what type of situation we have, whether it is real world or fictitious."