ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – The
sound of police sirens fills the air, ambulances race towards the scene as panicking
people, run in every direction, to escape the disaster. This chaos may seem
reminiscent to a scene from an action movie, but it really is a massive
accident response exercise.
The developing event was not
created for the sake of causing chaos, but to measure how effectively Airmen
handle a crisis. In order to implement such a hectic event, months of planning takes
place between the 36th Wing Inspector General office and key stakeholders.
“The IG is the facilitator for an
exercise,” said Master Sgt. Ronnie Lawson 36th WG IG superintendent. “We conduct these exercises to test our
capabilities and ensure, when a real-world event takes place, we are ready and
able execute whatever mission is given to us.”
An exercise is the employment of
military resources to test the capabilities of multiple units and measure how
effectively they work together to achieve an objective.
Before an exercise can be
conducted, there needs to be a proposed idea on which an organization needs to
assess. Once the idea is set in place, it is turned into a full-scale military
operation. However, a task so large cannot be handled by the IG alone, which is
why they employ the help of the Wing Inspection Team.
“We’ve asked commanders to appoint
some of their most experienced subject matter experts to come and help
facilitate our exercises,” Lawson said. “Utilizing knowledge within their
career field, they will find what aspects of their job to exercise and present
them during our planning conferences.”
The IG is a small team consisting
of Airmen from just a few career fields, which is why having WIT members from
every unit is essential. The WIT, consisting of more than 160 Airmen, provides
their expertise to the IG to ensure an exercise is as robust as possible.
One organization that is heavily
involved in all exercises on Andersen AFB is the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron
“The EM role in exercise planning
plays directly into the wing's real-world incident planning,” said Tech. Sgt.
Adam Hills, 36th CES EM plans and programs NCO in charge. “As we work with the wing
and IG to create the most realistic exercises possible, we provide perspective
on real-world planning factors such as historical references, current threat
and realistic response capabilities.”
Not only is Hills a fundamental
part of the EM team, but he also wears a second hat as the WIT for his unit. As
a WIT member, he measures how his unit performs their mission.
“Before an exercise, the IG calls
me in to help create a foundational scenario for the pending exercise to ensure
that the exercise meets Federal Emergency Management Agency and National
Incident Management System standards,” Hills said. “I develop desired learning
objectives to express that uniform standard and evaluate against them.”
When an exercise kicks off, Hills
and all WIT members across Andersen AFB assess their unit on the desired
learning objectives they presented to the IG during their many meetings.
“After the exercise, I consolidate
any findings, recommended improvement areas or deficiencies, and submit them to
the IG to be added in their report,” Hills said. “Once all of the WITs submit
their results, a post-exercise "hot-wash" is conducted to assist in
scrubbing all the findings across the wing. This process eliminates invalid
findings, duplicate findings and consolidates similar findings before IG
compiles a final report for the commander.”
Good or bad, the results go a long
way in measuring the Wing’s effectiveness. The synergy between the IG and WIT contributes
to assuring mission success.
“Exercises, when executed as
planned, are very beneficial to the 36th Wing mission. This installation is so
incredibly busy that if we didn't exercise on a regular basis, the base
populace would make incident management considerations less and less in their
daily routines,” Hills said. “Exercises are based on incidents that have happened
before and could potentially happen again. To that end, the installation's
response to such crisis situations should not be the first time anyone executes
their disaster response mission.”