Kadena initiates December MFE

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena's mission focused exercise kicked off in the early morning of Dec. 1 with deafening sounds from a gunshot simulator at the 18th Wing security forces building.

The scenario, which focused on Kadena's tactics and procedures during an unexpected active shooter situation, sent a shock through the force early on in the exercise, eliciting response from medics, firefighters and security forces members.

Though its presence so early in the exercise came as a bit of a surprise to many on-scene, one Wing Inspection Team member said that's when it's most valuable.

"Training scenarios like this are important," said Staff Sgt. Joseph White, 18th Security Forces Squadron evaluator, "because they provide us with the realistic training we need to evaluate these scenarios and the tactics training procedures that our security forces members go through so we can determine what areas need to be improved and also what the strengths are to handle active shooter scenarios."

This particular situation centered on an individual opening fire in the security forces building, but Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Terrell Harris said this training keeps Airmen prepared no matter where they are.

"Active shooter scenarios are something that, it's unfortunate, but they do happen, and obviously we have to train the way we fight," Harris said. "We wanted to utilize something that we have going on in the real world where we basically did not inform the base populace of what was going to occur. This way we're able to see how are we as a force being trained when it comes to not only SABC (self-aid and buddy care) but how well we communicate between each other's jobs from security forces to medical, from medical to fire, to just folks being on the ground.

"A maintainer providing SABC on the ground needs to know how to communicate to the medical folks whenever they arrive on the scene and take control of the casualty," Harris continued. "All of that happened pretty smoothly today."

There's no dispute that the training focused on Kadena-specific response, but White said security forces members around the Air Force are, at the least, required to perform active shooter training annually to maintain proficiency.

Moreover, Harris and White both agree it's an important skillset to have, whether on- or off-installation anywhere in the world, meaning the training should be held as often as possible.

"Active shooter scenarios are a little intense," Harris said. "They can be stressful for obvious reasons. Anything like this could happen at any point in time. How frequent - that, I can't really speak to. This prepares us not only for when we're at work, but also when we're out and about with our families. This is something that we can train on here and take back to our families and let them know 'in this situation you should stay low, focus on SABC, and focus on remaining calm.' Those are lessons we can certainly apply outside just our work here on base."

The active shooter exercise was only one of many situations Airmen will be thrust into during the MFE, which is slated to run through Dec. 4. Throughout the week, personnel assigned to the base will be tested on a range of responses from simple self-aid and buddy care techniques to the much more complicated aircraft fires and active shooters like this one in order to hone their skills.

In fact, the active shooter wasn't the only major test of the day. Firefighters also responded to several faux F-15 Eagle and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft fires.

Non-exercise participants, to include family members on the base and in the surrounding areas, are reminded that loud speaker announcements and other MFE-related noises used to enhance training will happen periodically throughout the week, and that no alarm should be taken.

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