Ready to Respond: Full-scale exercise tests fort’s readiness, response

Cover Story

Fort Meade Police force through a door during the response portion of the emergency preparedness exercise on Sept. 14. (Photos by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

By Anthony J. Hyatt, 70th ISRW Public Affairs

The Fort Meade garrison conducted a hurricane, cyberattack and active-shooter training exercise on Sept. 14.

Fort Meade partnered with Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, Anne Arundel County Police, the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion and the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing to test the installation’s recovery and response from a hurricane, cyberattack and active shooters taking hostages.

Mary Staab, director of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, briefs exercise status and next steps during the emergency preparedness exercise.

The objective was to test Fort Meade’s use of an augmentation to its security forces, said Jeffrey McClendon, Fort Meade’s Emergency Management specialist.

“With such a robust hurricane season, it’s important that we train using an augmentation force from our senior command for future planning purposes,” he said.

The hurricane and cyberattack were completed through a table-top exercise with key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting.

Fort Meade Police Chief Capt. Thomas Russell works the phone and provides guidance during the exercise.

The active-shooter exercise was a more “boots on the ground” response and consisted of a simulated emergency inside an abandoned building on Fort Meade. Role players — shooters and military police — used simulated rounds for a more realistic experience.

With active-shooter incidents often being unpredictable and quickly evolving, it’s crucial for local law enforcement to practice its response actions.

“We not only try and make every exercise we do as realistic as possible, but we also try and include our local community as well as our tenant units to the greatest extent possible,” McClendon said. “The more we train together, the more we grow in confidence as well as know what resources we can depend on from each other — whether the event is natural or man-made.”

According to the 70th ISRW inspector general’s office, the exercise was used internally to evaluate the Wing Operations Center, Group Control Centers and Unit Control Centers’ response in the event that they were activated.

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard also received media training as he prepared for a mock press conference with several people taking on the role of news reporters.

A “hotwash” was conducted after the full-scale exercise to discuss the multiple agencies’ performance.

McClendon encourages the Fort Meade community to stay informed, have an emergency plan and emergency preparedness kit, and ensure each family stays prepared and involved.

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Public Affairs Director Chad Jones discuss plans during the emergency preparedness exercise on Sept. 14 as garrison leaders and staff work their areas and coordinate actions.
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