STANLY COUNTY, N.C. --
Before sounding off simulated gun fire, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Van Dyke immediately yells, "Exercise! Exercise! Exercise," to keep personnel from undue panic.
For the first time in the history of the 145th Airlift Wing, an active-shooter training was completed with local emergency responders in Stanly County, N.C., March 28, 2023.
Although this is the first time completing a practical, active-shooter training with local emergency responders, it did not mark the first active-shooter training. In fact, Air Force emergency management standards require them to complete active-shooter training bi-yearly.
"In the past few years," said Maj. Ryan Wagner, 145th Airlift Wing director of inspections, "we've done tabletop exercises, that's more of an inspector general lead, internal exercise. This time we wanted to incorporate some local agencies to test our capabilities in Stanly County."
To execute this training, resources were pulled from several units throughout the 145th Airlift Wing, such as: security forces, emergency management, the inspector generals, and civil engineering. The wing partnered with the Stanly County's sheriff's office, fire department, emergency medical technicians, emergency management, and the Albemarle police department.
"We went after a level of realism that we haven't done in the past," said Wagner. “We knew that by not incorporating the local agencies, we would be doing ourselves a disservice.”
The job of a military inspector general is to plan exercises and validate compliance, but they are not subject matter experts. Regarding this exercise, the 145th Inspector General relied on the expertise and relationships of the 145th Security Forces Squadron.
"What we witnessed today were years of IG (inspector general) exercises, networking, and communication come to life," said Van Dyke, 145 SFS unit training manager. "I was approached by IG for my input; I spoke about stepping outside our comfort zone and making it as real as possible, and they agreed."
The realism of the exercise allowed both civilian and military agencies to see what each one should start, stop, or continue to do.
"It was a great learning experience," said Tim Rogers, a sergeant with the Stanly County Sheriff's Office. "I expected to see how our local agencies worked together as a group as we integrated with the military and base personnel," explained Rogers. "I walked away with new relationships and satisfaction knowing our guys did what needed to be done to complete the
Practicing how one plays better prepares someone for real-world responses, and this exercise was no different.
"These types of events are real world," said Wagner. "We're not training for deployment, we're training for domestic operations, and active-shooter type exercises to help keep our airmen and community safe. In addition, these types of exercises help to broker relationships with outside agencies. If this ever happens, we'll know how to react, who to call, how to keep each other safe, and how to de-escalate the threat."