By Karl Weisel, USAG Wiesbaden Public AffairsNovember 5, 2008
WIESBADEN, Germany - During U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's force protection exercise, members of the Emergency Operations Center were faced with various scenarios: an airfield explosion, a fuel spill and a beating death at the main train station.
As mock reports of people killed and injured poured in, the EOC quickly assembled to monitor the developing situation, to determine the response needed and to ensure the ongoing safety and security of the garrison population.
"Players" were pushed to the limit as exercise planners from Installation Management Command consistently threw queries and challenging situations their way during the "tabletop" exercise held Oct. 22-23
"Our training for the garrisons is parallel to battle command training for units," said Jim Calder, a team leader of the Installation Force Protection Exercises Program from IMCOM's Army Management Staff College at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Calder explained that the training included two phases - a series of seminars and classes about three months ago and then the command post exercise in October - that put to practice what was discussed during the activities.
"The training and the learning are not complete until we complete the cycle of feedback," said Calder as he led an after-action review in garrison headquarters.
Calling for discussion about things that went well and areas needing improvement, Calder and other members of the IMCOM team shared their reflections on the crucial need for advance planning in crisis management.
"Everybody has to put their pride in their pockets and admit their mistakes," said Calder, explaining that it is the garrison commander's intent to "identify strengths and weaknesses."
"It's a lot easier to look for the answer now than to look for it later," said retired Lt. Gen. Joe Bolt, senior mentor with the exercise team.
"This was a great exercise," he added. "Thank you all for your participation. This was quality training. I hope you got a lot out of it."
Recognizing some of the "unique challenges" in Europe, such as reliance on host nation emergency responders, Bolt said the exercise "focused on some very, very critical training objectives.
"You (have) some great strengths," Bolt said, praising staff for owning a "focused mission and a great community to support that mission."
"The threat is out there; you need to be able to respond - have a team ready to respond," he said. "You only get one chance to get it right, so you better get it right the first time. Preparation is naturally the key."
It's vital that garrison staffs recognize how important it is to continue honing their crisis response capability, Bolt said. "You've got to make your community tougher to get at."
Overall, training as a garrison and as individual sections is necessary to "build the bench" and increase expertise level.
"This two-day command post exercise involved a large portion of the USAG Wiesbaden garrison staff, as well as several key players from across the community who contributed to the realism and success of the exercise," said Col. Ray Graham, USAG Wiesbaden commander. "By all accounts the exercise was very productive. We received a 'green' rating, certifying us as a proficient and trained garrison in the execution of installation force protection measures.
"This was also the first exercise in which we operated our Installation Operations Center out of the garrison headquarters," said Graham, "and the CPX validated the effectiveness of the facility. This was the capstone event in many quarterly exercises leading up to this CPX, and a key building block in our ongoing force protection training and preparedness. I am confident that we are now better able to handle any disaster or crisis within the Wiesbaden military community."