By Ms. Christie Vanover (IMCOM)February 1, 2010
CHIEVRES, Belgium -- As sirens blared, Soldiers ran from the barracks, screaming that a shooter was on the loose.
Teams of police entered the dark hallways in search of the suspect.
Rows of doors, blind corners and casualties strewn along the ground added adrenaline to the mission: find and engage the active shooter.
This rare multi-national training exercise was conducted in December on Caserne Daumerie to enhance the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe's capabilities to respond to incidents similar to the November shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
"It's a new police technique that was developed after Columbine," said now-retired Special Agent Nick Ivanovic, 701st MP Group (CID) Kaiserslautern. "What it does is it puts the first responder into the facility where previously we used to wait for our special weapons or special reaction teams.
"We realized that you could no longer wait on the SRT teams to show up," he said. "It worked much better to get the first responders in the door and find the shooter and stop the shooter, and all this training does is it provides various methods to our first responders on how to get into the building, how to move through the building, protecting themselves, protecting others and engage the shooter as quick as possible."
Master Sgt. John Gillespie, USAG Benelux Provost sergeant, coordinated the exercise with military police from USAG Brussels, ChiAfA..vres Garrison and USAG Schinnen along with SHAPE International Police and SHAPE Federal Police.
"If something happens at the SHAPE schools, we're gonna respond also -- as long as they ask. We're gonna send guys because we have the K-9; we have multiple patrols," said Gillespie. "We're here to assist them, and the same thing, if something happens here, I'm gonna call Federal Police and SHAPE and say, 'Hey I need some backup over here.'
"So it's good that we learn from each other now," he continued. "A lot of it is just learning faces."
SHAPE Federal Police Commissioner Frederic Salm agreed.
"The cool thing is to be able to work with and train with the colleagues from the military police and to get the teachings from the U.S. Army side," he said. "Plus, a training about active shooters is something we don't really do."
Prior to the exercise, the police were briefed on proper response techniques. Then, they combed through the building, looking for the shooter, as Gillespie and Ivanovic provided immediate feedback.
"If you're going to peek around the corner, raise your gun," Ivanovic told one MP.
"If you see something, you're his eyes and ears. He's not looking forward, you've got to let him know," Gillespie told another.
Because only small groups of MPs were able to attend the training exercise, Gillespie encouraged them to take their new skills back to their units.
"They can just walk into PMO and say, 'This is how we did it,'" he said. "They can show them how to stack up, how to line up in a hallway, and as they do that, for the next month or so, then they'll start learning, and when I bring them to a bigger building like today, it's not such an eye opening experience."
Salm said he plans to continue the training with more Belgian police officers on SHAPE, and his fellow police officer, Inspector Germano Monosi, said he's thinking about how to expand active shooter training nationally.
"This is really important," said Salm. "This is something he [Monosi] will bring up to the federal level and see if it could be part of the federal program and taught in every police academy in the country."
Gillespie said the Office of the Provost Marshal and IMCOM are working to get an active shooter train the trainer course in Europe, and he plans to send Benelux MPs to the course once it's established. In the meantime, he will continue local exercises based on the recent training.
"I think this enhances our capabilities to respond to these types of incidents," said Gillespie. "We'll be able to engage and react appropriately with the mindset of keeping the public safe. Because that's our ultimate goal is to protect the public."