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From March 19-24, Navy installations across the United States will be participating in Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield, an exercise designed to test force protection readiness through a variety of increased force protection measures.

At Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB), those working on and visiting the base should prepare for a possible impact to their commute beginning before noon on Thursday, March 22, and all day on Friday, March 23.

Installation leadership at NSAB has taken several steps to minimize the impact to the base as well as to the local community. These include encouraging staff to take leave, increasing telecommuting options and minimizing routine business.

The base will be open, but those visiting the base for routine business should avoid the morning rush hour (approximately 6:30 to 10 a.m.) on March 23. Visitors may also want to call ahead to confirm the office they are visiting is open.

This exercise is of vital importance to our ability to execute the Navy's mission in support of Homeland Defense and to protect all our people in a situation characterized by a significant and immediate threat to their safety. While mission essential civilian personnel (MEP) will be expected to report for duty, it is desired that non-mission essential civilian employees remain off of the installation during the exercise. This is not mandatory. Non-MEP should talk to their supervisor to request leave, permission to telecommute or work flexible hours if possible. It is not a day off unless leave is taken.

Unions representing affected bargaining unit employees (BUEs) are entitled to advance notice, and the opportunity for impact and implementation (I&I) bargaining, as appropriate. All bargaining obligations should be completed before the exercise commences.

Q: What should employees expect during the exercise?

The impact to those already on base on March 23 will be minimal. Those coming to the installation by car should expect significant delays both getting on base and in traffic leading up to the base, particularly during rush hour. Additionally, they may be subject to vehicle inspection and bag search when entering the installation.

Q: What flexibilities are available for leave, pay and duty status of non-mission essential personnel?

A: Non-mission essential civilian employees, who are absent from work during the exercise, may be permitted to use annual leave, advanced annual leave, compensatory time earned, credit hours earned, or request leave without pay consistent with normal attendance and leave procedures. Otherwise, employees may be permitted to telework (consistent with telework regulations), move a compressed work schedule (CWS) regular day off (RDO) to coincide with the exercise related absence, adjust work hours to reduce congestion at base entrances, or report to an approved alternative worksite.

Q: If the exercise begins during the course of a workday will non-mission essential civilian employees be required to depart affected Navy installations?

A: Installation commanders/activity heads will decide whether to direct the departure of non-MEP during the course of a workday or allow them to remain through the end of the regular work shift.

Q: Can all non-MEP civilian employees telework to avoid taking leave during the exercise?

A: Only telework-ready employees may telework during the exercise. Telework-ready refers to employees who have been designated eligible for telework, and whose position has been designated eligible for telework consistent with law and regulation. Telework-ready employees must have completed the required training, their supervisor must have completed the required training, and the employee must have a signed telework agreement. Employees who do not meet all of the telework-ready conditions are not authorized to telework during the exercise.

Q: What has the installation done to minimize impact to the local community?

A: NSAB has coordinated with tenant commands to ensure fewer personnel commuting to the base on March 23. The hospital has limited patient services and other tenant units have worked with their employees to find alternatives to coming to the base to work that day. Notices have also been sent out to the local community to notify those whose commute takes them near the base to expect delays.

Those who need further information can contact NSAB Public Affairs at (301) 295-1803.