By Mass Communication 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) — Sailors assigned to Naval Station Everett (NSE) coordinated with tenant commands and local authorities for the anti-terrorism training exercise Citadel Protect, May 13-15.
Designed to simultaneously train and evaluate security reaction teams on NSE, the exercise simulated several anti-terrorism scenarios including an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), chemical weapons, active shooters, and small boat attacks.
“It’s a higher level exercise that tests our ability to defend the base,” said Mark Brooks, the installation training officer for NSE. “It gives our security personnel an opportunity to show what they’ve learned over their training cycle and display their talents during a pretty realistic scenario.”
Coordination was key during the exercise. The guided missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) and Naval Branch Health Clinic Everett participated, coordinating with NSE’s security team and emergency response forces. First responders from the city of Everett and local hospitals also participated in the drill.
One of exercise’s main scenarios involved small boats attacking Shoup while moored to NSE’s pier. Sailors on the ship’s security team had to repel the attackers with machine gun and rifle fire. Another pivotal scenario involved active shooters on NSE’s piers firing upon Shoup and NSE personnel.
The exercise’s final scenario involved the explosion of an IED equipped with a toxic chemical agent. During the scenario, security teams had to secure the area, allowing rescue and medical personnel to evacuate injured Sailors to hospitals and assign them treatment as needed.
According to a watchstander who participated in the exercise, training like this is very important to preparing for the worst in real life.
“If we don’t practice for it, we won’t know how to react when it happens,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Julio Jauregui, a native of San Pedro, Calif., who acted as watch commander during the IED explosion scenario. “Not every scenario is going to be the same, whether it’s an exercise or a real-world scenario, but at least I’ll have a template in my mind as far as what I need to accomplish.”
Although a primary focus of the exercise was to evaluate the security forces’ performance and coordination, this particular drill also emphasized creating a realistic environment for participants.
“We routinely do training, but it’s rarely that we get to do this high level training,” said Brooks. “[It] is the most realistic training environment that we can give both the ship and Naval Station Everett Security personnel.”
Automatic weapons using blank rounds were used during the drill, introducing realistic sights, sounds, and smells into the training environment.
“When we do our training, we normally use red plastic guns. When we’re doing that, we can’t simulate a jam, we can’t simulate a stoppage, we can’t simulate [being] out of ammunition,” said Lt. jg. Cory Zebian, a native of Colleyville, Texas, and force protection officer aboard Shoup. “Here, when we’re using real weapons with blank ammunition, if you have a jam, you have to clear it to keep shooting. If you run out of ammunition, you run out of ammunition.
Special laser emitters attached to participating Sailors’ weapons also added to the realism, allowing trainers to accurately count how many hits were scored onto an enemy combatant or small boat.
“It teaches our guys a little more discipline with their shooting,” said Zabian. “It’s as close to real life as we’re going to be able to get.”
Realistic effects were also used to simulate wounds on Sailors involved in the chemical weapon IED Explosion.
“Making it realistic shows where we have our deficiencies and where we need to improve our response to whatever the situation is,” said Jauregui.