To Serve, Protect: Marines Train to Save Lives

To Serve, Protect: Marines Train to Save Lives

LCpl Michael Fuentez, from Los Angeles, California, clears an aisle Nov. 20 at Camp Courtney's Post Exchange during an active shooter reaction exercise. The drill began with an active shooter who later became a barricaded suspect and subdued by the Provost Marshal Office's Special Reactions Team. Photo by LCpl Isaac Ibarra.

OKINAWA, Japan (Dec. 1, 2014) - In the previous 14 years, more than 160 active shooter instances have occurred resulting in casualties in communities throughout the U.S. Military installations are also susceptible to these types of emergencies. As first responders, military police must remain ready to keep their community safe and respond to all types of emergencies.

Military policemen with the Provost Marshal's Office responded to an active shooter and barricaded suspect training scenario Nov. 20 at Camp Courtney's Post Exchange and Commissary to practice their tactical skills.

The training began when PMO responded to the call of an active shooter, supported by Camp Guard. The PMO Special Reaction Team was called in as follow-on support when the active shooter became a barricaded suspect.

"Today the active shooter response exercise was put in place to both ensure and evaluate our readiness for an operation," said 1stLt Paul R. Johnson, a watch commander with PMO, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. 

"This is also to ensure the coordination amongst camp guard, SRT, and PMO is sound." 

The exchange and commissary provided an accurate training environment of where military policemen could possibly operate in an active shooter scenario, according to SSgt Gerardo D. Casillas, a patrol supervisor with PMO.

Camp Courtney's Camp Guard also participated in the drill by providing a security element to assist PMO.

"Camp guard assisted the military police throughout the situation by forming a security perimeter, so the military policemen can go inside and restrain the active shooter," said Casillas, from Hillsboro, Oregon.

The Marines train in combat towns in similar evolutions, but the commissary and exchange provided a new environment to maintain their readiness. 

"We went over the trends of active shooter incidences in the past, and analyzed any type of statistics that are relevant," said Johnson. "We also go through the procedures of how to clear rooms, maintain proper communications, and how to handle and interview witnesses."

Multiple volunteers, including service members, participated in the event to role-play as shoppers to bring another element of realism to the training. 

"The exercise went well; they trained and learned from their mistakes in the environment, so that way they don't make them," said Eugene Warfield, from Tucson, Arizona, the anti-terrorism officer for Camp Courtney. "Overall, the Provost Marshall, the military and civilian volunteers did a great job."

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