Exercise builds teamwork between ANG, local police

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Security Forces Squadron and local law enforcement officers move to the sound of gunfire during an active shooter exercise at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Oct. 24, 2014. The New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Security Forces Squadron hosted the training event, which was the culmination of Active Shooter and Tactical Combat Casualty Care classes attended by Security Forces Airmen as well as police officers from the local community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Security Forces Squadron and local law enforcement officers move to the sound of gunfire during an active shooter exercise at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Oct. 24, 2014. The New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Security Forces Squadron hosted the training event, which was the culmination of Active Shooter and Tactical Combat Casualty Care classes attended by Security Forces Airmen as well as police officers from the local community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- On Oct. 24, 2014, the sounds of gunshots, sirens, and explosions rang out here, as the 177th Fighter Wing and police officers from Egg Harbor and Hamilton Townships responded to an active shooter exercise. The exercise was the culmination of active shooter and tactical combat casualty care training that the Wing hosted for both Security Forces Airmen and local police.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Allen, chief of the 177th Security Forces Squadron (SFS), helped to coordinate the event.

"This exercise is not just about our Security Forces," said Allen. "Since active shooter situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, it is imperative that the affected community responds just as rapidly as law enforcement. Base personnel must know how to take immediate protective measures and follow orders issued by the command post."

Senior Master Sgt. John Sacchetti, 177th SFS operations superintendent, said that the training was an excellent opportunity to interface with local law enforcement.

"It's great for us to be able to work on tactics and communications with local police," said Sacchetti. "It winds up being a learning experience for everyone involved, and helps us to strengthen our ties with the community."

The responding police officers were confronted with a situation they normally wouldn't encounter--automatic weapons fire and a shooter wearing an explosive vest.

"The responding officers from the community and our SFS Airmen teamed up and developed a joint combat action plan," said Allen.

The 177th SFS Airmen and their civilian counterparts formed into several squads that engaged opposing forces with Simunition rounds and smoke grenades.

"Using sim rounds has been a great training tool for us," said Sacchetti. "The gear can be a little bulky, but we get to use the weapons we would use in an actual response, and even though the sim rounds are made of wax, you don't want to get hit, so it encourages our guys to find good cover."

The joint team advanced on the enemy position, throwing the green smoke grenades to provide concealment.

Senior Airman Carl Walls, a defender with the 177th SFS, was one of the Airmen who responded to the active shooter exercise.

"I thought this training was fantastic," said Walls. "It was amazing to see all of the pieces come together, knowing how we'll mesh with local first responders."

With speed and precision, the team not only rescued simulated casualties from the hot zone, they also performed tactical combat casualty care and demonstrated different techniques for treating battlefield wounds.

"During the exercise, the teamwork was apparent," said Allen. "The police and Guardsmen seamlessly integrated to stop active shooters and worked together to practice lifesaving skills. It's clear that joint training and exercise events between the 177th Fighter Wing and civilian agencies is an important part of our mission which builds lasting partnerships - partnerships that help us better serve our community and nation."