MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- Though many units aboard Marine Corps installations are deploying to the Middle East in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the need for preparation and training for installations themselves has not dissipated.
The anti-terrorism field exercise, Urgent Response, was held June 12-16 through the combined efforts of Camp Lejeune units and Military Civilian Task Force for Emergency Response partners, according to Doug P. Davis, program manager, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives.
“The new installation AT plan was signed June 24, 2005, and this exercise is the first opportunity for us to utilize the new plan,” said Davis.
According to coordinators, Urgent Response 2006 served as a terrorist threat preparedness exercise for Lejeune’s first responders, emergency services, installation safety and security and, for the first time, training and operations.
“The scenarios that were performed throughout the week focus on domestic terrorism and the command’s ability to assess different command and control procedures and test how prepared they are for these type of situations,” said Davis, explaining the annual requirement.
The initial scenario included a suspicious package received at the Military Post Office, which required many different units to help assess, contain, identify and decontaminate in order to recover the package.
“The package was first received inside the post office and a Marine notified me about the suspicious object we had received. After notifying the proper chain of command, the package blew up and Anthrax went all over. We had to evacuate everyone from the building.,” said Sgt. Timothy J. Bell, postal clerk, Consolidated Postal System, MCB Camp Lejeune. “We are the first line of security in the mail chain and if we slip up it is almost like we failed that person. I’ve done exercises like this in the past and I think it’s a great idea we are doing one.”
The second scenario simulated an injection of an unknown contaminate in the Holcomb Blvd. water treatment plant. This was a table-top exercise for the Utilities Branch to evaluate its continuity of operation and emergency action plans.
The third scenario, aboard Camp Johnson, was the culmination of all three days and was used to help the Criminal Investigation Department and the Special Reaction Team from the Provost Marshal’s Office with negotiation tactics and hostage training.
“The exercise is a good way to help the base be aware of the imminent dangers we face day-to-day by being aboard a military installation,” said retired Master Sgt. Terry W. Vaden, Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Manager. “I was prior CID, so I volunteered to come out and help role play in the exercise by being one of the hostage takers. I have first-hand knowledge of being a hostage negotiator and I can give the CID investigators tips and pointers of what they might have said wrong or right on the throw phone (a phone with a landline to a headquarters post given to the hostages by the CID investigators) during negotiations.”
“The overall success of the exercise was great. We had many different units come out to the scenarios and we discussed the ups and downs of each scenario,” Davis explained. “Next time we perform an AT exercise, we know what to do and what not to do again. Without the support of the commanding officers aboard each base and the help of the staff I worked with, the success of the exercise would not have been possible.”