EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Between 2014 and 2015 there were more than 35 active shooter incidents in the United States with over 230 casualties according to the FBI.
On Dec. 14, the 354th Fighter Wing and 168th Wing combined forces to execute active shooter training during Arctic Gold 17-2.
“We did a base-wide exercise to respond to an active shooter on the installation,” said Airman 1st Class Trevor Holman, a 354th Security Forces Squadron response force leader. “As security forces we arrived at the location as fast as we could, neutralized the threat, and cleared out the building for the other first responders to come in.”
In the military, people understand the possibility of being deployed to a dangerous location, but few people expect that place to be outside their front door.
“The unpredictability of this type of threat means everyone on this base must be equally trained to respond with no notice,” said Maj. James Habeck, the 354th SFS commander. “While we are able to respond quickly to any threat, every person on Eielson should understand and rehearse the three individual responses: escape, barricade, and fight. Their very survival may depend on it.”
At least once a month 354th SFS defenders receive active shooter training; but when the entire base participates in the exercise with them it becomes a different type of environment.
“The exercise offered our defenders the ability to rehearse their skills on a large-scale in a collaborative and multi-functional environment,” said Habeck. “While we have conducted two other successful active shooter exercises this year, they’ve been internal to security forces. A wing-wide exercise of yesterday’s scale allowed us to rehearse the interoperability of all the external response agencies integral to real-world success.”
The combining of the two wings for this active shooter exercise provided an invaluable training opportunity for both wings.
“Getting experience working with the 354th Fighter Wing helps us see the interaction and our members understand what security forces does in these situations,” said Lt. Col. William Hunstein, the 168th Wing inspector general. “It also helps the security forces members. As they respond, they learn the differences in the personnel and the buildings. It helps add to the ‘one team, one fight’ concept.”