- Anti-terrorism/Force Protection teams from Naval Station Everett (NSE) coordinated with USS Momsen (DDG 92) and a local hospital for the anti-terrorism exercise Citadel Protect, Oct. 25.
The exercise used anti-terrorism training scenarios including several small boat attacks on Momsen and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack on the naval station.
Medical personnel from Naval Branch Health Clinic Everett also participated, evaluating the simulated wounds of mock victims of the VBIED attack and transferring the most severe victims to Everett's local Providence Hospital for treatment.
The NSE, Momsen and medical personnel working together smoothly was vital to the success of the exercise, said Chief Master-at-Arms (SW) Robert Smith of Brooklyn, N.Y., Everett's Anti-Terrorism Officer.
"It's all about coordination. We don't often get a chance to work together with a ship for an exercise like this one," said Smith. "In the course of the training we learn to communicate, work out the kinks and learn, ultimately, how to better protect this base and its ships in the event of a real threat."
Although a primary priority of the drill was to evaluate the involved security forces' performance and coordination, this particular exercise also emphasized creating the most realistic training environment possible. A local company known for creating a "hyper-realistic" tactical training environment for military personnel was hired for the drill.
Elements added in order to create this realistic environment included the use of pyrotechnics to simulate explosions aboard attacking small boats and a VBIED, the use of blank ammunition to fire upon the simulated enemy forces, and the use of makeup to simulate injuries sustained from the IED attack.
Some Sailors who participated in the drill agreed that the hyper-realism of the event was a big change from the imaginary gun shots and explosions of more "run-of-the-mill" anti-terrorism training scenarios.
"It's totally different experience to actually hear the gunshots, see the explosions and feel the gun kick back in your hands," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SW) Thomas Cyr of Bucksport, Maine, a member of Momsen's security reaction force who fired blanks from an M240 machine gun during the exercise. "It reminds you of how real situations like this could actually be."
"Realistic exercises like these don't only train you, they keep you on your toes, both during the exercise and long after it's over," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) John Porras of Agana, Guam, a member of NSE's Auxiliary Security Force, who participated in the drill. "They remind you, in a very powerful way, of how important protecting this base really is."
"Exercises like Citadel Protect are especially valuable to Sailors by giving them an experience as close to the real thing as possible, mentally as well as physically," said Chief Gunner's Mate (SW) David Dresselhaus of Jefferson City, Mo., the Leading Chief Petty Officer of Momsen's Anti-Terrorism Training Team.
"There's a big difference between firing at a moving boat and at a still target," said Dresselhaus. "You have to learn to engage targets under stress, and the more realistic, the better. It's all about being mentally ready for the real thing."
Laser emitters were even added to participating Sailors' weapons, providing an accurate record of how often the participants hit their targets.
"Overall they did an outstanding job," said Dresselhaus. "Their weapons handling and response time was excellent, and they engaged the enemy and hit the targets they needed to. That's what we wanted to see for this exercise and for real life as well."