Training to fight terrorism
A suicide bomber drives a truck into an office building and then blows himself up.
Another man plants a homemade bomb next to a shed containing propane canisters.
Two workers are taken hostage.
Any one of those incidents could throw a U.S. base into chaos. On Thursday, the Army’s 835th Transportation Battalion stationed at the Port of Naha, Okinawa, along with personnel from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Japanese police simulated an attack involving all three.
“It’s been three years since the post has conducted an exercise,” said Capt. Duane Foot, of the 835th, who organized the event. “Ports are the most vulnerable to attack.”
The exercise started shortly after 8:30 a.m., when a flatbed freight truck “crashed” through the front gate at the Naha Port. As the driver of the truck sped off to the headquarters of the 835th, another man jumped out of the vehicle, sprinted to a shed containing propane, planted a bomb and continued running.
When the driver got the headquarters building, he simulated setting off a bomb, which — according to the exercise — collapsed half the building. Meanwhile, the other terrorist hid in a garage and took two hostages.
The fire department on base quickly evacuated the rest of the headquarters building and set up both a command center and a triage unit to treat casualties. While units from Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster were notified and deployed to the scene, firefighters treated casualties.
A Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal team was deployed to the port, as was an Air Force hostage negotiation team and a special reaction team from Camp Foster that has capabilities much like a SWAT team.
For a couple of hours, the terrorist taunted the command center with insults. After the mock explosive device was disarmed by a remote-controlled robot, the reaction team assaulted the building where the terrorist was.
The mock terrorist was “killed” and the hostages saved.
The exercise wasn’t without its hang-ups. Foote said certain assets could have gotten into action a lot faster than they did. He also said they need more local involvement in the training.
“Next year, we’ll go back over these and do much better,” he said.