Drill helps Marines train for terrorism situations

CHERRY POINT AIR STATION — It was a nightmare situation.

Four armed terrorists held 17 Marines hostage at a terminal at Cherry Point air station. Three were killed after the demands of the hostage takers were not met on time.

Fortunately for all involved, it was just a drill in case a real siege ever happens.

The anti-terrorism exercise Wednesday tested emergency and other air station personnel in how to react to such a scenario.

“The safety of our personnel and our Marines is key,” said Cpl. Lisa Strickland, a spokeswoman at Cherry Point. “It’s important for all our teams to be spun up on how to react to it.”

In one of the terror scenarios, a group of eco-terrorists raids a terminal taking more than a dozen Marines. They make telephone contact with station police, making unreasonable demands.

They want the base closed, for all aircraft to be dismantled, $2 million Euros, a transport aircraft for their escape and eight parachutes.

And they want it all in 30 minutes or they will start killing.

A tactical team from the provost marshal’s office won’t have any of it and plans a raid on the terminal from an out-of-sight staging area.

The siege drags on as the gunmen, armed with pistols and automatic weapons, grow impatient. Time is up. They kill a hostage. Then another.

By the third death, the raid is on.

Members of the air station’s Security Reaction Team bust through the doors in full riot gear, wearing gasmasks and firing tear gas into the large room.

Each one has automatic weapons drawn, and they take down the masked gunmen without a fight.

One terrorist resists, firing shots from a corner behind lockers. Team members return fire and kill the terrorist.

About 50 people participated in the drill, including about 25 from military police, fire and rescue, and explosive ordnance disposal. Another 25 were in the base’s Emergency Operations Center.

“It is a huge number of people that take something like this on,” said Mike Barton, deputy director of public affairs at Cherry Point.

He said personnel involved in such a scenario would include a command representative who would be in contact with the base commanding officer, the base’s Joint Law Center, various communications and operations personnel and the public affairs office.

Barton said Marines are constantly training for all types of situations, and the terrorism drill was just another example.

“Essentially, our mission in life when we are not doing real-world operations is to train for real-world operations,” he said. “Exercises like this help us prepare for possible events that we could face in the future, and they help us find out what we can do better.”


About Tim McDowell

Colorado ACFEI Member's Homeland Security Weblog
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