Dover AFB trains for base-wide readiness admist COVID restrictions

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Dover Air Force Base conducted a base-wide Force Protection exercise Nov. 16-20, 2020.

The exercise entailed 24-hour operations and consisted of an array of scenarios to test the base’s emergency response capabilities, satisfying multiple annual training requirements.

This type of exercise is an annual requirement, which demands the synchronization of all involved base units in order to maximize training opportunities as well as identify and remedy any incorrect practices in preparation for a real-world incident.

After four months of planning and in his first exercise as the 436th Airlift Wing Inspector General, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pedersen, presented 21 scenarios during the four-day exercise that involved most base agencies and units. Fifty wing inspection team members evaluated the individual unit’s response to the various scenarios.

Different levels of force protection conditions, , simulated suspicious packages requiring explosive ordnance disposal, physical threats to the base, a radiological incident, hostile drone activity, and fraudulent social media activity were some of the scenarios that tested the wing and its personnel.

“This exercise tested many facets of the Security Force career field,” said Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Hunt, 436th Security Forces Squadron logistics and readiness superintendent. “Exercises happen almost daily for us across our squadron; we are always sharpening our sword and preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

“Our goal is to be the best trained and best equipped defenders in the Air Force to provide unrivaled base defense,” said Lt. Col. Schneider Rislin, 436th Security Forces Squadron commander.

With security forces at the tip of the spear during this force protection exercise, the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight used the exercise as an opportunity to train and collaborate with other units.

“This FP exercise gave 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal Airmen the opportunity to hone their skills in the counter-improvised explosive device mission area,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kyle Nason, 436th CES EOD flight superintendent. “Although we regularly conduct internal training operations, EOD involvement in base-wide exercises allows our team leaders and team members to coordinate with other responding agencies as they would in a real-world situation.”

Col. Mike Peeler, 436th Operations Group commander and Dover AFB Crisis Action Team director, participated in a mock news release regarding a simulated radiological incident.

In his statement, Peeler said “Dover Air Force Base remains postured to respond to any threat and our Airmen stand ready to meet any requirement.”

Simulated media engagements offer wing leadership an avenue to practice communicating and interacting with media outlets and the local population regarding real-world occurrences.

The current pandemic added concerns on how to keep Team Dover safe during the exercise.

“COVID-19 is a real world threat we must learn to operate in for the foreseeable future,” said Pedersen. “The exercise’s intent was to ensure we could respond to threats appropriately while simultaneously maintaining a safe COVID-19 posture. While some minor events were modified to avoid unnecessary exposure, Team Dover did demonstrate it could fulfill its mission despite COVID-19 challenges.”

At the end of the exercise, Pedersen was left impressed by Team Dover.

“I think we did pretty well. No system is perfect as there is always room for improvement. We identified a few areas where processes and procedures need to be updated along with some areas for targeted education and training. Overall, Dover Airmen proved they are accomplishing the mission today and eager to improve themselves for the fight tomorrow,” said Pedersen.