Wing provides opposing forces in anti-terrorism exercise

Margate, NJ -- Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing served as opposing forces to emergency services personnel from both the state and local community during an anti-terrorism exercise in Margate N.J., August 1.

Members from the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron acted out as terrorists who had taken over a school while emergency personnel were evaluated on their response to the incident.

The scenario was created by Master Sgt. Joe Iacovone, a member of the 177th Security Forces Squadron and Jack Dever, the 177th Fighter Wing Anti-Terrorism officer.

"Uniting experts from both the military and civilian sectors pays enormous dividends to all the parties involved," said Iacovone. Iacovone, a traditional guardsman, is an Atlantic City police officer.

Ernie Cavagnaro, State Investigator for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, observed the exercise.

"In the case of an actual event, it's important for small towns to work together," said Cavagnaro. "These exercises help build camaraderie, as well as develop leadership skills that will be equally beneficial."

Both state and local responders praised the 177th's involvement in the exercise, noting that the Wing's participation brought a higher level of authenticity to the exercise.

"I think this was a very successful exercise," said Cavagnaro. "Everyone got the training and experience that they will need to prepare for the future."

Close working relationships enhance the Wing overall, said Dever.

For the participating Airmen, it provided them an opportunity to gain insight into the dynamics associated with hostage negotiations with an international terrorist cell.

"Given today's current threat environment, it is imperative that incident response training be performed using this multi-agency reaction concept," said Dever. "It provides those participating an awareness and understanding of the various tactics, techniques and procedures."

The state and local community emergency personnel included those who work for the NJ Department of Homeland Security, NJ State Police, Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management, Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, FBI and several local police departments.