Florida’s Navy bases to conduct anti-terrorism drills Feb. 3 to 13
By DAN SCANLAN | The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union | Published: February 2, 2020
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Anti-terrorism drills will be conducted on and off Florida’s U.S. Navy installations starting Monday, including Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, as part of nationwide Citadel Shield/Solid Curtain exercises.
The annual anti-terrorism/force protection exercises are designed to train Navy security forces and first responders to react to potential threats to their bases and units.
The Navy says the exercises, which end Feb. 13, are not in response to any specific threat. But they come only two months after a deadly Dec. 6 shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station in which Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight other people.
Base security, medical and emergency staff will take part in February’s drills based on assessments of foreign or homegrown violent extremist groups’ objectives and capabilities as well as current real-world events, the Navy said. These exercises consist of field-training events on and off bases designed to assess and test different anti-terrorism forces’ preparedness, response, and operational abilities.
Drill coordinators are taking measures to minimize disruptions to normal base operations. But the Navy said there might be times when the exercise will cause increased traffic around bases or delays in access. People who live near the bases might see increased security activity associated with the exercises.
Mayport has had some recent incidents of people trying to ram their way through its main gates for unknown reasons.
On June 14, Rodney Simeon, a former Alabama State University basketball player from Miami, was arrested after trying to smash through the gate with a stolen dump truck, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. The attempt failed when the truck hit a steel barrier activated by Navy sentries.
On June 3, an unidentified driver tried to ram his way through the gate but also was stopped when he crashed into the pop-up steel security barrier, according to WJXT TV-4. The man, who died of his injuries a few days later, did not show any credentials to guards when he was stopped at the gate and was told to turn around. Instead, he showed a can of beer to the guard, then sped on until he crashed, the Navy said.
Jacksonville naval staff have alerted state, county and city officials about the drills so they can tell local residents whether they need to set aside more time to access installations.
The drills come about a week after Naval Air Station Jacksonville conducted exercises on the St. Johns River, which included the firing of blank rounds by sailors on patrol boats, the Navy said.