Story by Donna M Cipolloni on 02/01/2019The Navy's annual anti-terrorism, force protection exercise Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain (CSSC) is about to get underway Feb. 4-15, and NAS Patuxent River personnel are asked to be patient with any delays or inconveniences that may come as a result.
Conducted by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Commander, Navy Installations Command, the two-week, two-part exercise uses realistic drills and scenarios to enhance the readiness of Navy security forces and ensure seamless interoperability among the tenant commands, fire and medical services, and agency partners.
"The exercise reaffirms training done throughout the year and validates the emergency management plan, antiterrorism plan, SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures], PPRs [pre-planned responses], and emergency action plans at every command," explained Eric Schotter, installation training officer at Pax River. "It validates that they work and will be effective in the unfortunate occurrence we'll have to use them. Because in my opinion, it's not a matter of if' we're going to use them, but when.'"
The first week's Citadel Shield portion of the exercise focuses on installation-level training and will take place entirely within Pax River's gates. Scenarios occurring this week will not influence any other events in the rest of the Naval District Washington Region or U.S. Northern Command area of responsibility.
Week two's Solid Curtain exercise is a national-level exercise centered on command, control and communications between all echelons Navywide where everything that happens at any installation affects every other installation, even if only in a minor way.
Specifically, here at Pax, Schotter noted there will be four drill packages run within the first week, and some of the scenarios played out which might involve suspicious activity or surveillance, gate runner, suspicious package, bomb threats, active shooter, hostage situation could lead to gate delays or closures, barriers being set up, temporary changes in traffic or parking patterns and an increase in force protection condition (FPCON) up to Charlie.
"[Charlie] would mean personnel will see gate sentries in full body armor with a rifle and 100 percent ID check at the gate of everyone in a vehicle, not just the driver," he said. "That will cause some delays, but we do our best to tailor all of this around high volume traffic times to avoid significant backup."
Schotter, who arrived at Pax six months ago after retiring from a 27-year Navy career in security, has added a new scenario this year a simulated helicopter crash with multiple casualties.
"It has nothing to do with antiterrorism or force protection, but we fly aircraft here on a daily basis and however unlikely it is to happen, it still can happen," he added. "So we must be able to work that in while we're doing all the other things as well."
Personnel can best be prepared by registering with the AtHoc messaging system and by checking the NAS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NASPaxRiver.
"People should be enrolled in AtHoc which will keep them informed of what's happening throughout the installation," Schotter said. "You'll get notifications on gate closings or exercises in progress. Even outside of CSSC, it's just a good idea to be in the loop and know what the base commander is putting out."
Throughout CSSC, there will be AtHoc messages sent out to inform the base population about 15 to 30 minutes prior to a specific exercise commencing.
"And we ask if people see the signs saying Exercise in Progress,' please don't go through the area," Schotter added. "It causes us problems and it may cause them problems as well."
While every effort is made to limit inconveniences, air station personnel are asked to remember the ultimate purpose of the CSSC training exercise to ensure the protection of those who work and live aboard Pax River.