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Andersen tests capabilities during joint typhoon exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Team Andersen participated in a joint typhoon exercise here June 14-20.

Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam, Joint Region Marianas and Government of Guam agencies conducted Exercise Typhoon Pakyo in order to test each organization's preparation, response and recovery capabilities in the event a typhoon would strike the island.

The exercise kicked off June 14 with the announcement of a potential storm and Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 4, meaning destructive winds were probable within 72 hours. Andersen AFB is always in TCCOR 4 due to its location in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean where typhoons can occur any time of year, though the typical season spans from June through December.

"It's been a while since the base was impacted by a major typhoon, but being located in typhoon alley means a typhoon can generate up at any time and strike the base within 72 hours," said Staff Sgt. Adam Hills, Andersen Emergency Operations Center manager during the exercise and 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight NCO in charge of emergency management training and education. "An exercise is a great way to prepare for typhoons because it promotes interoperability between the base, JRM and other agencies off base. It also gives us the chance to streamline our checklists to make our recovery efforts quicker and more efficient."

The exercise resumed June 17 with continued preparation efforts around the base as they progressed through TCCOR 3 and 2 as Typhoon Pakyo drew nearer, bringing destructive winds within 48 and 24 hours respectively for each TCCOR. Some of the initiatives included closing shutters on windows, topping off fuel for generators, filling sandbags, planning for storing flying assets and preparing evacuation facilities with sleeping bags and cots.

TCCOR 1 was declared June 18 with destructive winds occurring within 12 hours, and the simulated storm struck the base the following morning. After that point, Airmen exercised their abilities to respond and recover from the devastation of the typhoon by advising safety measures, coordinating clean-up efforts, announcing the "All Clear" and returning to TCCOR 4 June 19. The weeklong exercise concluded June 20 with the base maintaining its real-world TCORR 4.

"This was a great learning experience and it gave the units a good opportunity to look at their typhoon and disaster preparedness plans and how they can better prepare Airmen and their families," said Senior Master Sgt. Lawrence Witt, 36th Wing deputy inspector general. "I think this exercise generated a lot of conversation about what we would do if this really happened."

For more information on preparing for typhoons, check out the "Andersen AFB Emergency Management" Facebook page. Also, stay tuned to the Andersen AFB website, official Facebook page, Commander's Access Channel and Straight Talk Line for more information during real-world emergencies such as typhoons.

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