WIESBADEN, Germany – Against a backdrop of unknowns and uncertainty, a simulated explosion shattered the early-morning calm while startling those still asleep, Aug. 26, during U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s installation protection exercise held on Clay Kaserne and Clay North.
As many started their day by heading to school or waiting in traffic lines at the front gate, emergency reaction teams sprang into action. Soon after the initial reports of an incident, the garrison moved to establish its operations center while simultaneously gathering the necessary information to send a measured response package to the incident site.
“We assume this is a terrorist event,” said Ben Loney, USAG Wiesbaden's chief of plans and operations, leading the exercise's response from the garrison’s incident operations center set up on Clay Kaserne.
The focus of the protection exercise was to create a simulated emergency situation to portray crisis conditions, such as a simulated terrorist car bomb. These scenarios test the readiness of emergency personnel and their ability to respond and secure the incident site.
Though the terrorist bomb scenario was not based on an actual threat to the garrison, realism was enhanced with role players. The simulated “bad guys” and casualties provided the opportunity for military police dog handlers to train their working dogs, and gave medical and firefighting teams the ability to operate during a hypothetical multiple-casualty event.
While visiting the operations center during the exercise, Col. David Mayfield, USAG Wiesbaden garrison commander went around the room speaking to members of the crisis actions teams. His message was clear – recognize and acknowledge that the operations center is where the rubber meets the road. The hard work being done in that room – was honing the necessary skill sets to save lives, Mayfield said, as many worked feverishly to better understand the developing situation.
During a recent all hands meeting, held soon after taking command, Mayfield spoke about his vision for the command to “see ourselves.” After tackling a global pandemic the last few years, Mayfield spoke intentionally about how the garrison would enter a phase of education, conducting internal reviews to better assess the garrison and see what adjustments are needed.
The garrison's protection exercise is an important supplement to that initiative. The exercise allows leaders across all directorates to test the ability of their internal systems and processes and how to execute during a crisis.
Protecting and securing the community is one of the command’s top priorities, said Garrison Command Sgt. Major Richard Russell in a recent interview. Exercise review discussions will help the garrison identify shortcomings and make improvements to ensure the communities safety and security in the future.