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IG serves up exercise to prepare Team V for real attack

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Member of vandenbergs explosive ordnance demolition team prepare to inspect a van during an exercise Sept. 12. The entire base participated in the exercise that tested its ability to react to a terrorist attack.(Air Force Photo courtesy of 30th Inspector General Office)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Member of vandenbergs explosive ordnance demolition team prepare to inspect a van during an exercise Sept. 12. The entire base participated in the exercise that tested its ability to react to a terrorist attack.(Air Force Photo courtesy of 30th Inspector General Office)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Member of vandenbergs explosive ordnance demolition team prepare to inspect a van during an exercise Sept. 12. The entire base participated in the exercise that tested its ability to react to a terrorist attack.(Air Force Photo courtesy of 30th Inspector General Office)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Member of vandenbergs explosive ordnance demolition team prepare to inspect a van during an exercise Sept. 12. The entire base participated in the exercise that tested its ability to react to a terrorist attack.(Air Force Photo courtesy of 30th Inspector General Office)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Team Vandenberg participated in an exercise designed to test base-wide awareness of security threats and suspicious activity as well as its reaction to a terrorist attack on the base.

The exercise started Sept. 5 by raising the bases Force Protection Condition to Bravo due to mock intelligence of suspicious activity around Vandenberg's gates, said Sam Treat, 30th Space Wing Inspector General Office.

The suspicious activity portrayed consisted of people outside of South gate taking pictures of the base.

This activity continued until Sept. 12, when the exercise took full force, by starting the duty day at Vandenberg in FPCON Charlie. A van, which was said to be carrying chlorine, was spotted outside the gate.

The FPCON escalated to Delta, when a mock explosion occurred outside of the Fish and Wild Life building and the base responded to a simulated chemical attack.

From the beginning of the exercise, the 30th Security Forces Squadron didn't let one suspicious activity go unnoticed, said Mr. Treat.

"I look at the members of the base as sensors. Each individual is responsible for reporting suspicious activity," Mr. Treat said "The security forces members did a great job recognizing suspicious activity and then taking the appropriate measures to ensure base safety."

The 30th SFS was not the only unit on base to take appropriate action. The base-exchange, commissary and gas station were some of the actors in this exercise.

The reality of an event like this scenario is what makes exercises like this significant.

"Our money-making organizations on base did a great job of checking ID cards before allowing people to enter," said Tech. Sgt. James Haleski, the NCOIC of the IG inspections and exercises unit. "It's pleasing to see people make right decisions in an exercise like this."

"It's refreshing because of how realistic this exercise is," said Capt. Jennifer Holthaus, the chief of IG inspections and exercises. "Last month German police apprehended terrorists involved in a plot vary similar to the scenario that was exercised here."

This exercise trained Team V to use precision response if needed.
"It is important for us to practice these things so we will be prepared for the real world event," said Mr. Treat. "When you go to the hospital, you don't want to go to that doctor or nurse who has never practiced inserting an IV."

The scenarios thrown at Team V allow members to practice emergency response and are a result of brainstorming from the IG.

"Every morning the inspections and exercise office is like the cast from SNL trying to come up with new skit," said Mr. Treat

Although the parallel could be drawn between the creativity of the IG office and the SNL crew, the real world implications can't.

The practice and experience learned during an exercise could be the difference between life and death in the real world, Capt. Holthaus said.

Vandenberg will take the lessons learned from the exercise and continue its launch mission, just like it would if this was a real world situation. Vandenberg's purpose is to support the U.S. military through space and it will continue to safely launch satellites and rockets in order to contribute to the Global War on Terror.