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Airmen Team Up For Active Shooter Exercise

Security Forces members from the 161st Air Refueling Wing, along with the Phoenix Police Department, participate in an Active Shooter exercise at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard base, May 9, 2013. This exercise is part of an annual training requirement for the Airmen, in which SF and PD learn how to sweep and clear a building, as well as pass control, communicate, and investigate a crime scene. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo Story by Staff Sgt. Courtney Enos/Released)

Security Forces members from the 161st Air Refueling Wing, along with the Phoenix Police Department, participate in an Active Shooter exercise at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard base, May 9, 2013. This exercise is part of an annual training requirement for the Airmen, in which SF and PD learn how to sweep and clear a building, as well as pass control, communicate, and investigate a crime scene. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo Story by Staff Sgt. Courtney Enos/Released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- Airmen from the 161st Air Refueling Wing teamed up with the Phoenix Police Department to conduct an active shooter exercise here, May 2, 2013 in order to practice readiness and response procedures.

Agencies including Security Forces, Safety, Exercise Evaluation Team, Antiterrorism Office, and Command Post, partnered with the FBI and the Phoenix Police Department from Sky Harbor International Airport to conduct training in case of an active shooter/hostage situation.

Security Forces members and policemen surrounded the warehouse where additional 161st Airmen were holed up, acting as both hostages and hostage takers.

"The exercise tested the coordinated response, communication, and threat mitigation procedures between 161st Security Forces and Sky Harbor airport law enforcement in an Active Shooter scenario on the base," explained Lt Col Hoyt Slocum, 161st EET Team Chief. "The exercise was very hands-on, realistic training and we learned a great deal. This exercise required extensive planning and safety considerations we began planning this back in January."

Communications from the ground to Command Post ensured the safety of the entire base, including assets and personnel. Members from the Antiterrorism Office, Safety and Exercise Evaluation Team were onsite, certifying correct techniques, protocol and guidelines were being followed.

The purpose of this annual training requirement is to prepare Security Forces to respond to armed and disgruntled personnel. They must lock down the base, communicate with the Command Post to ensure safety of the base populous, as well as communicate with and overtake the active shooter, all while securing the safety of the hostages.

"As point man, my mission was to ascertain the number of hostages and try to figure out what was going on behind that door", said Tech. Sgt. Gage Underhill, 161st Security Forces Squadron member. "What was going through my mind was peaceful resolution, sparing the lives of the hostages and suspect alike, and safety for my team...The most successful mission is one where no shots are ever fired."