Story by LCpl Keely Dyer on 04/14/2017On April 11, Marine Corps Installations-West's Postal Sorting Facility conducted a bomb threat procedure as part of Semper Durus. Evaluators stood by and observed the Marines' real-world reactions. Very few people were in on the fact that it was an exercise; the rest thought it was real.
When the Marines who worked in the post office walked into their building they began their duties as normal. As the morning went on, one Marine noticed one of the packages he was handling was suspicious.
There was a letter containing a powdery substance intended to resemble previous anthrax threats, as well as a box appearing to be an immediate threat when it was put through the x-ray machine.
"As soon as I saw the package I let everyone know to evacuate, or at lease back up from it," said Lance Cpl. Ivan Krasnogor, a postal clerk at the Postal Sorting Facility. "The first thing I did was notify my chain of command and my Marines. From that point my Master Sgt. told me to scan the box, and when I did I saw wires, batteries and some sort of solid object inside, which alerted me that it might be a bomb. Without hesitation we alerted everyone to get to the safe point outside."
Once the Marines were safe outside, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, Provost Marshall's Officers, the HAZMAT team, Area Guard and the Fire Department were called to the scene where the roads and entrances into the facility were blocked off to the public and any outside personnel.
When the EOD arrived they went near the building and began preparing their robot to enter the building to inspect and remove the package from a safe distance.
"This exercise was set up like it was a real call," said Sergeant Matthew Prather, an EOD technician with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. "We all came together as if it were a real call, which was a unique situation. Usually when we go out to train it's just our individual units, but in this case we had multiple units come together to work as one."
In a real-world scenario, communication is key in ensuring information is passed correctly and in a timely fashion to avoid any mistakes.
"Just knowing how the other units operate benefits us because we can make ourselves better in order to operate with them and accomplish the mission," said Prather.
Once the exercise was concluded, all participants were made aware of what they did right and what had room for improvement. Overall, the day was a success for all units involved.
"It's important for us to conduct these exercises so our response times can go down, we can preserve lives better and we can help people when they need it most," said 1st Lieutenant Patrick Shaw, a Watch Commander with the Provost Marshall's Office on Camp Pendleton.
Marines are urged to be on alert no matter the situation and always be prepared to protect themselves and their fellow Marines.
"You never know when it's a drill or the real thing. I believe that as a Marine you should always be ready," said LCpl. Krasnogor.
The regional command post exercise is comprised of a series of field training scenarios designed to improve regional command and control, enhance interagency coordination, and improve installation capabilities to respond to, and recover from, a crisis event and validate the Installation Mission Assurance All-Hazard Plan.