GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (NSGB) conducted Operation Valiant Sentinel, a series of force protection drills meant to test the ability of the naval security forces and emergency operations center (EOC) to respond to an emergency, July 17-19.
Valiant Sentinel encompasses all of NSGB, to include its tenants. An exercise such as this required everyone's participation.
"The ability to work and communicate together is key to not only success for a drill or exercise, but for any situation that may arise on the installation," said Chief Master-at-Arms John Day.
During the drills, first responders had to react to a wide variety of scenarios both on land and water, such as an active shooter and a suspicious package in the water on the bay, all while maintaining Force Protection Conditions Bravo, Charlie and Delta.
"Security did outstanding; they were motivated and ready to go," said Day. "This year we changed locations of where we normally run drills and added new drills. The Sailors in security were adaptive and worked together to overcome obstacles. Having Sailors from the patrol section, harbor patrol, MWD (military working dogs) and staff work together to ensure mission success is what we train for."
Another purpose of the drills was to evaluate the training of the department. Observing the drills allowed the training staff to examine certain areas or tasks that may need more in-depth training.
"Drills are important to ensure we 'train the way we fight,'" said Joe McCollough, emergency manager. "Emergencies are few and far between, so we have to use drills to ensure proficiency. Quite simply put, the more you practice, the better the muscle memory gets and the more quickly people can react if a security situation occurs."
The EOC is sort of the central hub for command and control during emergencies, providing resources as well as points of contact to coordinate response, relief and recovery efforts.
"Every incident is unique and we learned that no matter how prepared an EOC is for an emergency, there is always at least one function that can be improved on," said McCollough. "Our biggest challenge is always rumor control and ensuring that timely, accurate information is provided to all hands."
According to McCollough and Day, the drills were very successful, in large part due to the highly-trained, mission-focused teams they lead.
"Anytime you have that many moving pieces, there is a chance for mistakes to be made," said Day. "The installation was able to respond to varying scenarios and Force Protection Condition changes to be able to complete all required objectives and complete the mission."
The drills accomplished their objectives, which were to ensure the station was prepared to react to an enhanced security posture and NSF personnel were able to effectively protect people and property from the effects of adversaries.
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