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Military, Civilians Team Up For Security Exercise At Coronado Navy Base

Law enforcement officials discuss response operations following an active shooter drill on a pier at Naval Air Station North Island, Feb. 10, 2016.

Aired 2/11/16 on KPBS News.

Exercise Solid Curtain involves hundreds of military and civilian personnel and comes two weeks after a shooting scare at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park.

Hundreds of military and civilian personnel are teaming up this week for security exercises at Naval Air Station North Island. The training is part of an annual nationwide exercise to prepare military personnel to respond to threats and emergencies.

Exercise Solid Curtain comes two weeks after a shooting scare at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park.

Wednesday morning’s drill in Coronado: a scenario of an active shooter on a pier next to the docked USS Rushmore.

Emergency vehicles line up along a pier beside the USS Rushmore during a shooter response exercise at Naval Air Station North Island, Feb. 10, 2016.

The exercise began with a disgruntled military member gunning his way through a security gate and taking down everyone in his path. A mock gun battle followed with service members chasing the shooter down the pier.

The drill seemed to come from an all-too-real playbook.

“In the past couple of years, there’s certainly been an uptick in active shooting cases and scenarios,” said Tom Stephens, commanding officer of the Rushmore. “This is something we want to be able to be ready for as any training revolution.”

Stephens told his 360-member crew that vigilance and communication are key.

“For us, if you’re going to see something that doesn’t seem right, you want to sound that alarm and you want to get that full team support,” Stephens said.

The mock shooter was killed before he had a chance to board the ship. Still, a dozen people were dead or injured. The exercise continued with civilian emergency responders being called in to help, including Coronado police, paramedics and homeland security.

“If we have a problem here on the base, it’s going to take more than just the local military to handle that situation,” said Capt. Stephen Barnett, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado.

Barnett said the coordinated training is an opportunity to practice for a very real threat.

“In the military, we train like we fight,” Barnett said. “It’s great opportunity for the new sailors, the new folks who work with our partners to see how we train in the military."

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