By Mike Ullery
PIQUA — Members of the Ohio National Guard, including both Bravo Battery and the 1487th Transportation Company, and the Piqua Police Department joined forces last week to train for situations that everyone hopes will never happen, but as recent events have proven, can happen anywhere.
SFC Les Rose of Bravo Battery, 1/134th Field Artillery, ONG, is one of the Guard’s full-time non-coms based at the Piqua Armory. He described the exercise as “long overdue.”
Rose and Chief Bruce Jamison spent several months discussing and working out details for a training exercise that went beyond “tabletop” plans and actually allowed officers and soldiers the opportunity to play out potential emergencies.
Playing out scenarios in “real time” not only gives participants the opportunity to get a feel for dealing with situations, but also “punches holes” in plans, exposing flaws and allowing emergency plans to be perfected.
SGT Derek Kurtz, a member of Bravo Battery, was in a unique position for the exercise. Kurtz is also a Piqua police officer. With such dual perspective, Kurtz was detailed to play the “bad guy” for the exercise.
“I thought it was very beneficial for both sides.” said Kurtz, “You’ve got the ‘active shooter’ which is more the police-based side, and then you’ve got the IED (Improvised Explosive Device, of both vehicle and personal-borne variety), from a police standpoint, some of those guys who haven’t been in the military were able to see that side of it. It better trains them for situations such as that one. It also trains the military for situations such as the active shooter.”
Several situations were presented with participants, both military and police arriving into the unknown and needing to react as they would in real life.
The scenarios ranged from “disgruntled Guardsman” entering the building and “active shooter” forcing entry, to multiple assailants forcing their way in with explosives.
From the Guard’s perspective, they chose to exercise non-lethal approaches to the situations while coordinating the situations with Piqua police.
Several of the exercises required Guard members to choose between evading or barricading in place while coordinating with police.
As with any emergency situation, communication is a key factor. One fact that became quickly apparent as the scenarios played out was that the Guard members, who have trained and experienced stressful and sometime life-threatening situations during deployments to combat zones, were quickly able to coordinate and communicate with police units allowing police and military to seamlessly work as a cohesive unit to defuse the situation and, when necessary, “take down” the “bad guys.”
SFC Rose described the exercise as the “crawl” phase of the military’s “Crawl, walk, run” approach to training.
“The biggest goal overall was to test our internal response procedures to an emergency situation at the Armory,” said Rose, “and to also test the coordination that we would do with the Piqua Police Department.”
Rose’s assessment immediately following the exercise was, “It was an extremely successful exercise on both parts. It’s one thing to do briefings or talk about things, but to put into action how we are going to respond to certain situations was something that cannot be replicated, so overall, huge success.”
“I think that it is important for all of us in the military and law enforcement as well,” said Rose, “to think about the fact, to think about the threats that are present. Maybe this will spark others to put together their own planning. To build that mutual understanding, cooperation, and communication with local law enforcement, to help build your sense of security, identify your vulnerabilities, to be able to work toward a more secure facility.”
Chief Jamison has set up and facilitated a number of training exercises with area schools and businesses, but this was a first endeavor with the military. “It was excellent,” said Jamison. “It was great to build relationships with these soldiers, learning from them things that they are able to bring back from their experiences, combining that with our officers experience in a civilian world and really applying what it means in Piqua, Ohio.”
Future exercises are being considered. The goal: to keep Piqua’s citizens, both civilian and military, safe.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335