Misawa security forces learn new tactics for effective emergency response
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — With hotter-than-normal weather forcing heat advisories, 11 airmen and three sailors sweated through first-responder training at Edgren High School, wearing protective gear and carrying weapons.
In the aftermath of the November shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 32 injured, Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the military to revamp first-responder training.
Tech. Sgt. Rich Garcia, a security forces specialist from Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii, said each major Air Force command is developing its own training. He said PACAF hired the civilian company Anser Analytic Services Inc. to design its program.
The result is the five-day course that the 14 Misawa servicemembers took part in, featuring the latest procedures and techniques used by civilian agencies in the States.
“PACAF gave us the freedom to put together what was best from everything” we reviewed, said course instructor John Knipe, a senior analyst with Anser’s asymmetric threat division.
The key difference from past approaches, Knipe said, is empowering each security forces member — including the most junior one-striper on patrol — to make the decision on whether to immediately engage a shooter instead of calling for backup, containing the area and waiting for specialized teams.
“Now we realize that those valuable seconds that are wasted waiting — either for backup or for a SWAT team — that is generally when all of the victims have been killed,” Knipe said.
Misawa is the third PACAF base to receive the training, following two bases in Alaska.Knipe said the training will continue on the other six PACAF bases in Japan, South Korea and Hawaii.
Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Aldana, a security forces airman for 15 years, said he sees the benefit of the new training, but said there might be an adjustment period.
“Old tactics," he said. "It’s hard to break old tactics.”