SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 834th Transportation Battalion at Military Ocean Terminal Concord, Calif., joined forces with 12 local and federal emergency agencies April 16-19 to tackle a series of antiterrorism, force protection and emergency response scenarios presented during the 2012 Coyote Shield exercise conducted by the U.S. Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

The scenarios selected for this year's anti-terrorism exercise were based on a domestic terrorist scenario and were designed to test battalion personnel, their processes and their coordination with local and federal agencies when faced with a variety of emergency situations. Scenarios included pier fires, high and low vertical rescues, unauthorized intrusions, vehicle chases, sniper fire, improvised explosive devices, and mass casualty events, to name a few.

"In a real-world situation, the decisive and coordinated effort between MOTCO, Contra Costa County and multiple other emergency responders would be essential," said the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Chris Hart.

The exercise brought together personnel from MOTCO; the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office and Fire Protection District; Travis Air Force Base (Calif.) Office of Special Investigations; Travis AFB Explosive Ordnance Disposal team; FBI; U.S. Coast Guard; and the local John Muir hospital.

"This exercise is a great opportunity. While 'we do a lot with a little' -- as my Quality Assurance Specialist, Joe Ayala, says -- we also need to continue to coordinate and practice with our neighboring responders, with whom we already have a valuable mutual-aid relationship," said Hart. "Let's get even better. Let's train, exercise and learn together; learn from each other. That's the goal."

That sentiment was echoed by members of the evaluation and observation team throughout the exercise. During one end-of-the-day recap briefing, after a mistake was discussed, SDDC Antiterrorism Officer Larry Ragan said, "This is why we train. Remember, communication is key -- it has to be fluid and deliberate. It's all about how to work together to save lives."

Other military units and organizations also traveled to MOTCO to participate in the exercise and gain valuable training, including an Army Reserve military police battalion from Nashville, Tenn., set to deploy soon; an Air Force Reserve unit from McConnell AFB, Kan.; and a crew and vessel from the Maritime Administration.

Army Reserve Spc. Kegan Hurly, a military police officer from the 304th Military Police Btn., played the role of "bad guy," or, as noted on his exercise badge, Red Cell Team. He was a driver for one of the chase scenarios and acted as an intruder for another scenario.

"[It's] hard for me to wrap my head around," Kegan laughed. "I don't think I've ever driven over 30 mph on a base in my whole life!"

When asked what he gained from the exercise, he said, "It was great. I got to observe strengths and weaknesses and learn from them. We all did."

An exercise like Coyote Shield is designed to assess the battalion's readiness, and to develop and maintain strong working relationships with emergency response agencies from the local communities, as well as state, federal and military partners.

"Force protection and security is paramount," said Hart. "The safety of the people performing the mission and the safety of our neighbors outside of the gate -- that's why we're here."

Page last updated Wed April 25th, 2012 at 09:26