Natural disasters, wildfires, explosions, terrorist attacks or hostage situations are daily realities somewhere on the globe. Turn on the news, link to a major news network via the Internet or connect with friends on Facebook or other social media, and people will likely find a headline or news feed about a major crisis occurring at home or abroad. These events can occur anywhere, at any time, and Fort Huachuca is not immune from the possibility.
In order to prepare for an unexpected emergency event, Fort Huachuca will conduct its annual Antiterrorism and Force Protection Full-Scale Exercise, or FSE, during the week of Aug. 26 – 31. It will enable leaders to evaluate skills necessary to effectively respond to increased threats or emergencies and execute sustained operations at heightened levels to validate Fort Huachuca’s resiliency to respond to events with or without warning during duty or off-duty hours.
This year’s FSE, Apache Warrior 2013, or AW13, will be conducted differently than in past years. According to Patrick Lotten, Emergency Plans and Operations officer, no details will be released prior to the exercise. This FSE will follow this new process due to after-action reviews and feedback from previous full-scale exercises where all information was given out to Fort Huachuca personnel ahead of time.
“This will be an event-driven exercise without warning and no notice. Realism will be employed to the greatest extent, and there is strict control and extremely limited trusted agents who know what is going to happen,” Lotten said.
This year’s FSE will involve the use of machine gun and artillery weapons simulators, according to Lotten, who explained that the Fort Huachuca community will hear gunfire and explosions.
Lotten encourages the general public to participate.
“’If you see something, say something,’ by reporting it to the iWATCH program (538.6969) or appropriate law enforcement agency. Vigilance remains the key in supporting our antiterrorism program, ‘Always Ready, Always Alert’,” he said.
The purpose of FSEs is to identify strengths and weaknesses in providing a safe and secure environment for the Fort Huachuca community and the civilian workforce, Lotten said, explaining that an additional FSE benefit is to validate recently published plans and assessments.
“These plans include the Installation Emergency Management Plan, Anti-terrorism Plan and the Fort Huachuca Installation Continuity of Operation Plan,” he said. “Also, our annual exercise affords us the opportunity to continue to foster our relationship with our local community partners, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to include employing mutual aid and assistance and providing interoperability.”
Lotten added that the AW13 will use selected standards from the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program as a metric to measure the installation’s readiness and response capabilities.
Installation Management Command will provide external observer-controllers to conduct an assessment of Fort Huachuca’s emergency management response and procedures.
All personnel and visitors should be aware of possible increased security measures and delays at access control points to include Fort Huachuca gates. There may be traffic delays. Everyone is asked to plan accordingly and give full cooperation.
“While we make every effort to limit the amount of disruption to organizational missions and services to our customers, preparedness and response remains in the forefront in an ever-changing environment of evolving threats,” Lotten said. “The security of our personnel and facilities is taken very seriously, and we routinely conduct exercises of this nature to test security levels, crisis management and emergency response.”
Updated AW13 information will be posted on Channel 97 (the Commander’s Access Channel), through Fort Huachuca social media and the Critical Information Hotline, 538.4636.