JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Antiterrorism training is the Army's "Antiterrorism Awareness" theme for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 that focuses on training Soldiers and civilians to protect themselves and their battle buddies from any terrorist attacks including an active shooter situation.
To support this, U.S. Army South conducted an active shooter training exercise as part of the antiterrorism training, at the headquarters building, Aug. 13. The exercise prompted everyone in the command to react appropriately to the incident.
"Active shooters are almost impossible to prevent, but through training and practice, casualties can be minimized," said Lonnie Crook, antiterrorism officer for Army South. "Active shooter exercises give the command a holistic view of the command's readiness in the event of an actual active shooter incident."
When the "shooter", carrying an automatic weapon, started his shooting rampage on the first floor of the building, individuals responded to the incident by either sheltering in place or evacuating depending on where they were situationally located in relation to the shooter.
Sgt. 1st Class Anwar Anderson, finance noncommissioned officer, Army South, was in his office in the east wing of the building when the first shots were fired.
"The first thing we did when we heard over the intercom 'there is active shooter in the building' was to start evacuating out the back door and a few people locked themselves in the office that had a sturdy door. We evacuated the building and hid behind a trailer to give us concealment and then moved off to a different hiding spot," said Anderson.
The training exercise was intended to be a surprise to Army South headquarters employees forcing them to make quick and on-the-spot decisions on whether to run, hide or fight.
Prior to the active shooter scenario, Crook explained to Army South Soldiers and civilians that during an active shooter incident, individuals should evaluate their options and choose the one that best suits their situation: run, hide or fight to save their lives.
"Fight is the last resort. If it's time for you to fight, your life is in imminent danger. That means you run or hide," said Crook, who is in charge of active shooter training for Army South. "Run is the preferred method but it might not be your best option. Hiding might be your best option. You need to make that decision on what you are going to do in that situation."
After the active shooter scenario was over, everyone at Army South headquarters came together to review and discuss the events that transpired during the training.
Participants of the exercise agreed they made the right decisions during the training that would have saved their lives in a real world active shooter situation.
"The training was effective. It reminded people to know where the exits are and where the closest route out of the area you are in," commented Maj. Jaime Navarro, chief of current operations for the medical directorate, Army South, during the action review session.
Active shooter training provides participants the opportunity to practice and be prepared on how to respond to an active shooter incident at work or outside of work.
"Active shooter exercise is not a fire drill," Crook stressed to members of Army South headquarters reminding everyone to react to the active shooter drill as if it was real and to think about their actions before they react.
Crook also added, "You need to be aware, you need to be prepared and you need to be flexible on whatever actions you decide to take."