You've seen the signs at the airport that say, “If you see something, say something;” a crucial motto when it comes to combating terrorism. At Naval Air Station Patuxent River, it's an adage everyone should adhere to more than ever as the Navy leaders enter the final planning stages for the largest Navy-wide anti-terrorism exercise, Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield 2013.
Led by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, and Commander, Navy Installations Command, the exercise is designed to enhance the training and readiness of Navy Security Forces by testing the ability to respond to threats aimed the installation, units, personnel and families nationwide. Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield 2013 is slated for kickoff in February.
During last year's exercise, held in March, Navy leaders tested mission essential personnel procedures and Force Protection Condition changes at installations throughout the U.S. Northern Command area of responsibility. Pax showed its ability to change to and sustain increased security measures for two consecutive days while keeping mission essential people on hand.
Capt. Ben Shevchuk, NAS Pax River executive officer, recalls the success of the 2012 exercise.
“We had superb tenant participation in last year's Solid Curtain exercise, with all levels of leadership involved in the decision to have only Mission Essential Personnel on board during heightened FPCON Charlie,” Shevchuk said. “We need to use this year's to refine our C2 (command and control), while preparing our security forces to keep up a vigilant posture.”
Following last year's exercise footprint, this year's training will test the installation's security department and tenant units in their ability to increase FPCONs.
Whether the base is tested through simulated malicious surveillance, simulated gate runners or a simulated active shooter event, the installation's successful response to all Solid Curtain terrorism threats will take all hands, Shevchuk said.
Exercise planners have announced that this year's test of mission essential personnel procedures will be different from 2012.
“Many remember last year's exercise when we maintained FPCON Charlie for nearly 48 hours and exercised our mission essential personnel procedures AOR-wide,” said Adm. William Gortney, Commander of US Fleet Forces. “In order to maintain the momentum from last year's extensive MEP planning effort, we will be exercising MEP again this year as a table top exercise.”
Simply put, the installation is not expected to test another FPCON change requiring mission essential personnel to be on hand for 48 hours.
Through this year's Solid Curtain events, NAS Pax River leadership will exercise its reporting, deterring, defending against and recovering from terrorist attacks.
Navy-wide, Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield objectives assess the regional commander's battle space management and decision making—threat analysis and a fusion of intelligence—in response to events that drives FPCON “trip wires,” also known as commanders' critical information requirements, FPCON escalation and determination of force posture.
The exercise also tests processes for requesting additional services from other entities in the Navy, local, state or federal government, or from sister services in a way that expands multi-agency coordination. Solid Curtain identifies communication gaps in command and control too by evaluating coordination between directed in-port security plan integration with installation security plans.