MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Marines, Sailors and civilians aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, alongside members of the local community, recently took part in a full-scale anti-terrorism exercise aimed at testing the MCLB's readiness and responsiveness to a terrorist situation.
The Anti-Terrorism Force Protection exercise combined assets from various on and off base organizations. Bringing the elements together was necessary to simulate the effect a terrorist attack would have here.
"The purpose of this exercise was to find our weaknesses," said Gunnery Sgt. Reginald Black, operations chief, Provost Marshal's Office. "In no way were we trying to point fingers at any one group... Instead, we wanted to learn how and where we need to improve."
The exercise, which was an all-day event, began when two shots rang out from the howitzers in front of Building 3500. The blasts symbolized a chemical bomb detonating at Maintenance Center Albany.
Representing the fall out from such an event, Marines volunteered to play victims of the blast. Each Marine was strategically placed throughout the grounds of the maintenance center, wearing tags that displayed various injuries.
The victims' injuries were varied purposefully to provoke quick and accurate decisions from emergency response personnel.
"Everyone got a feel for how confusing, how much friction and how much chaos can be caused during a disaster," Black said. "You have to make split-second decisions, and these Marines did a great job."
In addition to emergency medical personnel responding, personnel from the Provost Marshal's Office were responsible for blocking off the roads surrounding the maintenance center.
As PMO gathered the injured workers, the MCLB Fire Department, Branch Medical Clinic and Criminal Investigation Department were setting up their stations to decontaminate and provide medical attention to all the workers.
The Albany Police Department, Albany Fire Department, Albany Ambulance Services, Dougherty County Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services also assisted these on-base organizations.
Marines from the Albany Marine Band also took part in the exercise, helping the military police maintain security. Bandmembers, armed with M-16s, walked around Bldg. 3500 to make sure the only personnel entering the building were those with proper credentials and reason to be at the location.
"When you have something on this scale, it shows our MPs will be overwhelmed," Black said. "It is for that reason that we use the band, and they are a tremendous asset."
While the Provost Marshal's Office and the band have not perfected their integration, they are definitely moving in the right direction with events such as these.
"We would like to get a little more training with them," Black said. "But, we understand their hectic schedule so we do the best we can to get in as much training as possible."
Overall, the exercise was regarded as a very successful event that gave some Marines something to work on before such a catastrophe becomes a real-life situation. For some other Marines, it put into perspective what things could be like if (the Marines) let their guards down.
"I think this exercise is something that we should have to do monthly to stay prepared and to improve on the way we do things," said Pfc. Joseph Carter, S-1 Administrative Office. "It should have taught everyone valuable lessons in that on a small scale it showed us how bad things could really get."