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NEWS | Nov. 24, 2020

Fort Eustis military police conduct rapid response exercise

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Soldiers assigned to the 221st and 3rd Military Police Detachments conducted an advanced law enforcement rapid response exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Nov. 18, 2020.

The Soldiers sought to enhance their proficiency in taking down threats which may arise against the Fort Eustis community.

Participants in the training used non-lethal training ammunition which fired paintball-like projectiles. This provided a more realistic training experience for all players in the exercise.

“This exercise presents a call for assistance in a community with a possible active shooter or hostage situation,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Larry Eley, 221st MPD operations non-commissioned officer in charge. “There’s only so much you can get from blank firing or laser systems, so having a simulated round actually hit the individual provides instant response to perform the actions correctly.”

The exercise took place away from the base populace on a training ground that featured multiple buildings designed to simulate a community.

During the exercise, law enforcement officers stormed buildings where individuals playing the role of active shooters hunkered down. Both sides exchanged fire as the scenarios played out. Military working dog handlers also participated in the training, using their canines to chase after active shooters fleeing the scene.

Those role-playing as active shooters wore protective outfits to avoid injuries when taken down by canines.

U.S. Army Spc. Darius Clarkston, 221st MPD military police officer, said although the firefights were simulated and the ammunition wasn’t lethal, the explosion of energy and emotions felt very real.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Clarkston. “It’s something you don’t get used to whether it’s fake or real. You just have to move through it.”

Clarkston emphasized the importance of teamwork in such training events, adding it could mean the difference between life and death.

“We have to work together,” Clarkston said. “I can’t effectively clear a building by myself; I need at least one other person to back me up. I am confident in my teammates. I trust them, they trust me and we trust each other in all aspects of our mission.”
The last stage of the exercise was a scenario of “capture the flag.” The Soldiers were divided into teams: one team guarded the detachment’s guidon, while the other team attempted to capture it. This event mirrored a hostage situation, wherein the team trying to capture the flag is rescuing the hostage.

While some outsiders might dismiss the event as a glorified paintball tournament, Eley explained that the exercise has real applications for military police units.

“This training is important for our Soldiers because it hones their skills as they respond to dangerous calls or critical threats where there are civilian lives at risk,” Eley said. “We want them to have more confidence in themselves and their team to respond to some of these threats—to make them more competent and capable in their abilities. We’re prepared to respond and engage in any type of situation that may arise … to keep the civilian population safe on Fort Eustis.”