JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Soldiers and civilians working in the U.S. Army South headquarters building put months of rehearsals to the test as they conducted the culminating active shooter drill during the morning hours of April 5, 2023. The entirety of the command has progressively worked through drills which started with basic accountability and evacuation of the building to the most recent event including role players.
“Today we conducted a training event as it pertains to active shooter response drills which included approximately eight role players including a gunman carrying a pneumatic simulation rifle and a series of gunshot victims,” said Mr. Christopher Crawford, U.S. Army South’s Physical Security Specialist and organizer of the active shooter drill. “This was our chance to actually put into practice the things we have rehearsed over the past few months in as close to a real scenario as we can get.”
Knowing how to properly react in a situation such as being inside a building where an active shooter is present is paramount and can save lives whether it happens at work or in a separate public space. Many Soldiers throughout the Army are taught the expression run, hide, fight which is a general plan of action at the individual level.
“Throughout the Army, units develop plans for how they would react if a shooter entered their building and putting the plan to the test like we did today validates whether or not it would actually work,” he explained. “Scenario based training like this also exposes flaws in a unit’s plan identifying specific actions that may look great on a paper but turn out to be impractical in a real event.
In addition to the training provided to the U.S. Army South Soldiers and civilians, the 502nd Security Forces Squadron had the opportunity to train a pair of their civilian officers on reacting to an active shooter situation.
“It’s a unique training situation being able to use a building that we don’t normally train in,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Al’Lamar White, Standardization/Evaluation Evaluator assigned to the 502nd SFS. “Today provided our officers with a new challenge because they are unfamiliar with the Army South building layout which brought a new level of realism to the response.”
Providing a timely and appropriate response in an unknown location is only one of the new training opportunities the officers were forced to work through.
“It’s also important to work directly with our mission partners like Army South because it allows us to build rapport with one another,” he continued. “Opportunities like this ensure we know each other’s processes and procedures so that if this happens in a real world situation we already know how one another would respond.”
Mr. Crawford explained that immediately following the drill there would be an after actions review to identify aspects of the response that went well but also those areas that can be improved upon. He also said updating the standard operating procedures for U.S. Army South and that this type of training truly does not end.
“We are going to take everything we learned today from not just a physical security perspective but from everyone involved and make the changes that are necessary,” he said. “Once we develop updated SOPs we will begin the training cycle again and in the future conduct another active shooter drill like this to reevaluate and constantly refine our plans.”