By Emily BrainardApril 24, 2009
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Fort Rucker\'s Force Protection Exercise (FPE) climaxed April 23 when a mock terrorist detonated a suicide bomb among first response team members in the Allen Heights neighborhood.
The bombing was a key element in Fort Rucker's annual anti-terrorism FPE to conduct, test and fine tune the post's routine emergency procedures. According to Garrison Commander Col. Yvette Kelley, there were 17 mock casualties during the explosion incident.
During the two previous days leading up to the incident, Military Police staff received mock reports of stolen weapons, explosives, radiological material and a stolen vehicle on post, according to Director of Public Safety and Provost Marshall Lt. Col. Scott Wile.
Wile said his team of first responders worked with the Explosive Ordinance Detachment out of Fort Benning, Ga., as well as the Crisis Support Team from Montgomery. They were positioned off Christian Road in the Allen Heights neighborhood to deal with the situation when the mock suicide bomber attacked.
Teams from Fort Rucker Emergency Services and Fire Department were called onto the scene to aid the first responders and clear the area of any potential radioactive material. Post officials conducted two previous FPEs in December and March, but this was the first with any physical role-playing.
"Here at Fort Rucker, as we continue to do these things, we're progressing further along," Wile said.
Force Protection Specialist Mark Flowers said FPEs are important because they give Soldiers and leaders the chance to find out how things would run should an actual emergency ever take place.
"It saves lives," Flowers said. "It also gives first responders (the chance) to put (plans into action). It gives (us) the opportunity to find out how we can improve." Throughout the FPE, Fort Rucker Emergency Operations Officer Maj. Michael Hughes worked to disseminate information to first responders, commanders and the community, as it became available, using post sirens, mass e-mails, as well as command information television and radio.
"That's what we're here to do, to educate the public," Hughes said.
Kelley said events like this are important to prepare for whatever may come Fort Rucker's way.
"While we know that exercises like this can be a bit painful due to things like delays at the gates (and) IDs being checked, we want everyone to know all of these things help us immensely, to see what works, what doesn't and what we can improve on," Kelley said.
"I like to look at what may be the most probable, what may be the most catastrophic here at Fort Rucker. Just plan for the worst and be prepared. The bottom line is the safety of Soldiers, Families, civilians (and) anybody that comes to Fort Rucker," Kelley said.
She also said FPEs are critical because of the huge turnover on post. Training like this makes newcomers aware of the specific procedures here so they can also be prepared.