By Staff Sgt. Jason Kendrick, 56th IBCT PAO, 36th Inf. Div., MND-BApril 28, 2009
BAGHDAD - Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!
These words can strike fear into the hearts of those that hear them. However, it is important that they don't summon panic. The best way for Soldiers and members of the Victory Base Complex Force Protection force to mitigate any possible panic, is to train for the worst.
On Apr. 24, U.S. Soldiers, civilians and contractors held a base wide training event that simulated a coordinated attack; creating a mass casualty (MASCAL) event.
A real life emergency created by such an attack would require coordination of effort across multiple agencies and commands on VBC. This training event, allowed all these organizations to come together and plan how they would react and handle this type of situation without panic.
"The VBC MASCAL II event involves over 20 organizations including all the Mayor Cell's, [troop medical clinics, contractors] and some other civilian agencies," explained Maj. Wesley Otken, assistant operations officer serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "The training value added is having all these organizations work together through a complex attack, making sure that we are able to respond; providing command and control, good communications amongst all these different elements, especially the coordination involved among the different [troop medical clinics] for the treatment of our wounded Soldiers."
The size of this event required more than a month of prior coordination that included several meetings bringing all the partner organizations together.
"We held four IPR's (In Progress Review's) and had a rehearsal over a six week period in preparation for the event," said Otken, a native of Plano, Texas.
Soldiers and crews working at entry control points benefited from the training by providing over-watch from guard towers and conducting internal patrols.
"It's not just an exercise to test the reactions of the crews on the [entry control points], it is also to test the coordination and reactions of the emergency service providers on VBC," said Maj. Ed Dextraze, a Houston, Texas native serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron 124th Cavalry Regiment, 56th IBCT.
The event included a vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack at an ECP, and two indirect fire impact areas. Several agencies responded to the VBIED attack including the Victory Fire Department, Military Police, a rapid response team, a quick reaction force, and a field line ambulance from the nearby troop medical clinic.
"The impressive thing is not that everyone reacted to the situation, but that they reacted quickly. Everyone that needed to be here was, and in a timely fashion," Dextraze remarked.