NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to harbor patrol units (HPUs) across Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA) trained together during Exercise Citadel Protect 2017 at Naval Station Rota's harbor April 11 to 19.
Citadel Protect is an exercise to assess the command's capability to respond to and defeat various active shooter threats on the pier.
Sailors from HPU Rota, Bahrain, Italy and Greece were trained on the fundamentals of handling M240 machine guns and M4 carbine assault rifles and also practiced how to drive police boats effectively according to their pre-planned responses.
"This is an integrated drill," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Luis Vazquez, training supervisor assigned to HPU Bahrain. "We're trying to teach coxswains how to drive and maneuver the vessels to maintain positions for the gunner to engage and also communication between the coxswain and the gunner."
The exercise began with basic firearm handling fundamentals so Sailors become proficient at hitting moving targets and general boat maneuvers before escalating to more complicated drills that incorporated other scenarios, such as communicating with Sailors on nearby ships and firing boats that are returning fire back.
"It's been really eye-opening because we're the gunner and we're the coxswain," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Kassidi Buttermore, assigned to Naval Station Rota's HPU. "We can see from the gunner's point-of-view what they're seeing, how important it is for us as a coxswain to be able to give them the best shot possible and seeing how difficult it actually is on open water when it's a little rough out there. Your accuracy does decline and just making sure every shot you're taking is going to be on target."
Target assessment is recorded through training gear called multiple integrated laser engagement system (MILES) provided by Navy Installations Command (CNIC).
While the Sailors are shooting blanks at the simulated active shooter, a laser that is attached to the rifle's barrel is transmitted and then received by a detection system that is worn by the Sailors acting as scenario terrorists. This system is able to accurately replicate actual ranges and lethality so that leadership may better understand their department's readiness capability.
"It's all a guess [with training guns] did they really engage the target, did they engage it proficiently, effectively?" said Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Matthew Paul, Naval Station Rota Spain's HPU officer in charge. "This allows us to know when we're putting rounds on targets; are we hitting what we're aiming at? This is the first time that this base has been able to use this type of gear. We hope to have more. Maybe the Region (EURAFSWA) will be able to procure this type of equipment and provide training to its harbor patrol units."
Sailors from HPU Bahrain, Italy and Greece will report back to their duty stations to inform their commands of what they have learned so that they may conduct similar exercises to better prepare and stay ready for pier active-shooter threats.
Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for CNIC in Navy Region EURAFSWA.
Just as a ship performs lines of operation, which provide a capability, Navy Region EURAFSWA bases perform the same eight lines of operation to provide capability to the fleet and joint and allied forces. These eight lines of operation are air operations, port operations, safety, security, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), Fleet and Family Services and what is called the core -- the fuels, water and power which keep the bases running. Through the lines of operation, installations are force multipliers, which maximize the combat capability of operational units.
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For more news from Naval Station Rota, Spain, visit www.navy.mil/local/rota/.