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After a string of base tragedies, Navy force protection exercise kicks off

The annual Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain 2020 exercise will take place at Naval District Washington’s installations from Feb. 3 to 14, with an emphasis on protecting personnel from terrorists and internal threats, the Navy announced this week.

While officials say the drills are not in response to current events or specific dangers, recent incidents like the shootings at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii and Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola demonstrate their continued importance.

“The exercises will stress different areas of the Navy’s anti-terrorism and force protection programs to enhance the training and readiness of Naval Security Force personnel to respond to real world threats,” said Naval District Washington spokesperson Chatney Auger

“We will conduct training based on realistic scenarios including active shooter, unauthorized base access, and hostage situation.”

For the first week, Navy Installations Command will lead Citadel Shield. U.S. Fleet Forces Command will run Solid Curtain the following week.

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Naval Support Activity South Potomac and Naval Support Activity Washington will all participate in the exercise, according to officials.

Investigator Donald Micket , left, and Deputy Josh Walker of the York-Poquoson Emergency Response Team cover a building where a simulated explosive device was located during Exercise Citadel Shield/Solid Curtain 2019 on Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and Cheatham Annex, Virginia. ( Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jack D. Aistrup/Navy)
Investigator Donald Micket , left, and Deputy Josh Walker of the York-Poquoson Emergency Response Team cover a building where a simulated explosive device was located during Exercise Citadel Shield/Solid Curtain 2019 on Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and Cheatham Annex, Virginia. ( Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jack D. Aistrup/Navy)

After the mass shootings in Florida and Hawaii, U.S. Northern Command directed bases and their tenant commands “to immediately assess force protection measures and implement increased random security measures appropriate for their facilities.”

“The advisory also told leaders to remind their workforce to remain alert and if they see something, to say something by immediately reporting to appropriate authorities any suspicious activity they may observe,” NORTHCOM spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Mike Hatfield told Military Times at the time.

For the upcoming Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain, officials highlighted scenarios based on internal threats.

“I think we’ve done a really good job of protecting our fence lines, but unfortunately, some of the incidents that have occurred recently have taken place inside the fence lines,” Matthew Brown, Naval District Washington’s training and exercise director, said in the release.

“We’re taking a new look at that, how to prevent those incidents from occurring and how to react to them if they do.”

The drills will assess a base’s response procedures, how commands operate with each other and outsider agencies, their cooperation with emergency operations and medical facilities and the overall readiness of their personnel to an unfolding crisis.

“The recent events provided us a new opportunity to help people to understand that these exercises are extremely important because these scenarios, unfortunately, could unfold and if they do, we want to know what to do and our people to know how to react,” Brown added.

Officials stated that measures have been taken to “minimize disruptions within local communities and to normal base operations" and “advanced coordination has taken place with local law enforcement."

Naval personnel are advised to register with the Wide Area Alert Network to remain updated on developments linked to the exercises.

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