Preparedness Exercise to test West Point’s readiness

Submitted by Christopher G. Hennen Emergency Manager, DPTMS

April 4th, 2019 | News, News and Features

Although West Point has served as an impregnable citadel of Army values for more than 200 years, it is not similarly invincible from the acts of a determined adversary. As members of this community, we all must be prepared—through education and action—to respond rapidly and capably to a full range of potential threats. Readiness is our most potent defense against any foe. The question is, “Are we ready?”
West Point officials are committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of community members; the protection of property; and the sustainment of essential installation operations should an emergency occur.
Normal day-to-day procedures are not sufficient for assessing effective emergency response, as extraordinary emergency measures must be implemented quickly if impacts on lives, property, utilities and operations are to be kept to a minimum.
To assess our emergency response procedures and capabilities in real time and within a real-world environment we—as a community—conduct a full-scale emergency preparedness exercise each year that allows us to gain the in-depth experiences that only an extraordinary event can provide.
After more than six months of planning, West Point will conduct a community-wide emergency readiness exercise April 24, incorporating elements of an active shooter response, the installation’s Mass Warning and Notification System (MWNS) and the ability of our responders to address the threat and resulting consequences. In addition, this exercise will enable West Point officials; emergency first responders and managers; host and tenant organizations; the Corps of Cadets; West Point Schools and Child Development Centers; and community members to participate in an assessment of their emergency preparedness procedures and capabilities.
Active shooter incidents are among the most dynamic acts of violence that we might encounter. West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams is committed to the belief that a timely and capable response to an incident involving an active assailant at West Point will be crucial to safeguarding lives, operations and the image of this institution and the United States Army.
As such, he intends for this exercise to stress and assess West Point’s preparedness, response and consequence-management plans and capabilities throughout the installation in a near-realistic, challenging and safe operating environment. The end state is the achievement of all training objectives, a more engaged and prepared community and an improvement plan that enhances our protection posture.
On April 22 and 23, specific Random Antiterrorism Measures (RAMs) for the month of April will be assessed throughout the installation. On April 22, West Point will test the MWNS, and West Point Schools, Child Development Centers and USMAPS will conduct intruder-response drills. On April 24, the “bang” occurs when a simulated active shooter attack causes chaos and mass casualties in Central Area.
Initially, all personnel are expected to respond to protection directives (e.g., lockdown), and anticipate short-term restrictions on movement and access to West Point. Please consult your organization’s Emergency Management Coordinator for specific operational impacts.
While the exercise scenario, extent of damage and level of threat are based on a hypothetical situation and are not intended as a forecast of future harmful events, they do reflect the potential threat to personnel, our Armed Forces and college campuses across the country.
This exercise—the last of several emergency preparedness exercises conducted this year, and among the most comprehensive undertaken at West Point—is part of West Point’s continuing commitment to obtaining valuable insights to guide future preparedness and response efforts.  The Command Information Channel will run an informative video entitled “Surviving an Active Shooter—LA County Sheriffs” between April 8-12.
You can obtain additional information by contacting Dr. Christopher Hennen at 938-7092 or email Christopher.g.hennen.civ@mail.mil.
Are you ready?