In an effort to "proactively protect" Fort Jackson community and other areas throughout South Carolina the installation's Protection Division hosted the first regional active shooter training Aug. 14-15 at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center's auditorium.

Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, Fort Jackson and Army Training Center commander, characterized securing Fort Jackson as a "huge challenge" because the post doesn't "want to build the Great Wall of China" to keep everyone out and block complete access to the installation.

Roughly 5,000 visitors each week access the fort to visit Soldiers in Training during Family Day and Basic Combat Training graduations. This can make it difficult to properly vet everyone.

Johnson said the training seminar allowed attendees to help "generate cross-levels" of information between agencies and installations.

Sharing of information between different agencies can help protect from potential threats.

The training is "about getting after it and not waiting for the (After Action Review)," Johnson added.
Anti-terrorism experts from the FBI, Department of Defense and the University of South Carolina discussed how law enforcement and first responders reacted to active shooter incidents in Orlando, Florida, San Bernardino, California, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Experts also spoke about the motivations behind the attacks.

One particular portion of the training resonated strongly with attendees -- an overview of the active shooter incident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a gunman fired on recruiting stations.

Staff Sgt. Manuel Gordillo, a military policeman with Fort Jackson's Physical Security Office said the training was extremely helpful because he was able to hear from one of the first responders to that shooting.

"It shows that mass shooting are on the increase," Gordillo said. The shooter is "trying to send a message very loudly. Our job is to give them an amount of pause and eliminate that threat."

"We don't want people living in fear. Everyone has a responsibility to say something if they see something." The key is situational awareness at all times.

Fort Jackson is expanding information sharing through partnerships with state, local and federal protection and security agencies to help prevent terrorist acts.

Col. Stephen Elder, Fort Jackson's Garrison Commander, cautioned attendees to "not be complacent."

"We can put up all physical barriers we want," but it won't help unless everyone is trained, he added.

"It is equally important how we act," he said. "If something happens are we ready? Have we trained for it?"