Adaptive Focus exercise hones Army's skill in responding to terrorist attacks

By Franklin Fisher

CAMP RED CLOUD South Korea -- The Army in Warrior Country last week tested its ability to respond to terrorist attacks on its installations, holding a two-day exercise that featured mock car bombings and other terror episodes.

Called "Adaptive Focus," the exercise ran Feb. 15 through 16 and saw military police, firefighters, medical crews and other emergency first-responders reacting to mock terror incidents at Camp Casey, Camp Hovey, Camp Stanley and Camp Red Cloud.

Both the 2nd Infantry Division and the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud participated, as did South Korean troops, emergency services and local government officials, said Doug Atwater, director of the USAG Red Cloud's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

Besides simulated bombing incidents or bomb threats, other training scenarios included one involving a terrorist gunman who shot several people before he himself was killed, as well as a hostage incident.

But first-responders weren't the only ones who drilled in the skills and procedures they'd put into action in a real-world terror attack, Atwater said.

It also afforded an intense behindthe- scenes "command-and-control" drill for senior leaders and staff who must swiftly evaluate information and make crucial, timely decisions on how to best secure the installations and otherwise respond to threats.

"We made a lot of progress in identifying decision points of where command-and-control currently exists and how we should develop this in the future for reporting and transfer of information, and ensuring the 2ID commander reviews information quickly so he can make decisions," Atwater said.

Also put to the test during the exercise were the Army's written agreements with the South Korean military under which certain Korean units are slated to send troops to help defend Area I installations against attack.

"When we requested them, they did arrive and they did conduct patrolling and security operations outside Camp Red Cloud, Casey, Hovey and Stanley," said Atwater.

During the exercise, most recreational services -- food courts, clubs, gyms -- were closed for all or
most of each day, and nearly all of the Army's Korean national employees in Area I were off.

The Casey Elementary School however remained open during the exercise, but took part in it too: the school was written into the exercise script for a mock bomb threat Feb. 15. Students and staff practiced making a safe exit from their buildings, something they'd need to do in the case of a real bomb-threat.

Similar training events occurred throughout Area I during the exercise.

"Overall," said Atwater, "we've met all of the training objectives of the exercise and collected numerous lessons learned, and ideas for improving our existing plans and training here in Area I and 2ID."

Those improvements would be put in place "immediately," he said.