The U.S. Military Academy and the entire West Point installation will conduct its annual full-scale emergency preparedness exercise March 25.The goal of the exercise is to test West Point's readiness in the event of a direct attack such as an active shooter or terrorist attack. The daylong exercise will test the cooperation of assets from the academy and West Point Garrison as well as local and state agencies.West Point leadership has been preparing for the exercise for more than six months, including holding multiple tabletop discussions to run through the scenario on paper and outline the responsibilities of each organization on post.To help prepare for the exercise and the possibility of a real emergency in the future, the tabletops on Feb. 6 and 7 included experts from Fort Hood, Texas, and Virginia Tech University, both of which have had active-shooter incidents in recent years.The academy brought in experts from both military installation and university backgrounds in order to hear input from both of those worlds, said Lt. Col. Brian Heverly, West Point's director of emergency services. Typical force protection guidelines for an Army post are not fully applicable to the academy, Heverly said, but neither is how a university typically responds."Everything we do here when it comes to force protection in physical security and law enforcement, we have to straddle that line, because we're a military installation, but also the United States Military Academy," Heverly said. "How do we help facilitate the academy's operations within the confines of the Army requirements? When you talk about force protection, how do you do that? The Army has requirements, and the Army has concerns that are nuanced when it comes to the academy."One of the biggest differences they found between West Point and Fort Hood during the tabletop was the impact closing a building could have. Whereas at a typical base a building being closed and training being delayed could have minimal impact, even a slight disruption has large ramifications for the academy, Heverly said.Charles Zimmer, who is the deputy director of emergency services at Fort Hood, said they found after one of the shootings that buildings where the incident occurred could be closed long-term due to evidence gathering, if they were ever allowed to reopen at all. They also found that staff was hesitant to return to work in an area where a shooting occurred."Here, after seven days we're looking at moving graduation," Heverly said. "So, how do we do that? In this scenario, Bartlett Hall was closed for at least two days and you're probably going to lose a good portion of it, like Mr. Zimmer said, for a while."West Point also brought in Thomas Gallemore, a sergeant with the Virginia Tech Police, to speak about his experience working a shooting at a university. Heverly said the biggest thing they learned from Gallemore was the importance of getting out information in the first 30 minutes after an incident occurs."That's way faster than what we're used to and what we've done in the past couple incidents," Heverly said. "We like to sit back and take a very deliberate posture and make sure we get the right messaging out. But just kicking out what you know in the first 30 minutes is really the only way to stay ahead of social media. That's a key insight he brought to this organization."Gallemore said the biggest difference between Virginia Tech and West Point after an incident such as an active shooter is the role accountability plays.At VT, their focus was on gaining accountability of victims, witnesses and other people directly involved in the incident. At the academy, the responsibility is to have accountability of every person affiliated with the academy."To sit and listen and understand that piece and 100% accountability is expected to me is just challenging," Gallemore said. "I can't imagine trying to work through some of those processes and what that looks like and understanding what that communication is."The insights from Zimmer and Gallemore, as well as lessons learned during the multiple tabletop discussions, will be put to the test March 25 during the full-scale exercise, which will see normal operations at West Point interrupted for an entire day.