Citadel Shield Trains for the Unknown

By William Phillips
Commander, Navy Installations Command, lead planner for Citadel Shield 2013

Navy installations are executing their anti-terrorism “Super Bowl” of exercises, so to speak. CNIC’s Citadel Shield 2013 began Feb. 19; it will conclude Friday.

Sailors from Naval Station Mayport participate in an active shooter drill for Exercise Citadel Shield 2013, Feb. 22. Citadel Shield is an annual Force Protection and Anti-Terrorism exercise conducted on naval bases and installations throughout the continental U.S. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damian Berg/Released)

Sailors from Naval Station Mayport participate in an active shooter drill for Exercise Citadel Shield 2013, Feb. 22. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damian Berg/Released)

So, what does it look like on game day?

The scope of the exercise is huge; all six Navy regions (and their 50+ installations) across the continental United States are involved. Each region has fictional scenarios that are generated by planners from actual national and international terrorist threats. These scenarios affect all Navy bases and range from identifying surveillance, to large-scale, multifaceted threats originating from the sea (i.e. civilian boats attacking a ship in port, deployed floating explosive devices, etc.). Navy security forces on the bases are assessed on their response to the emerging threats and information is collected throughout the exercise, which is instrumental in assessing and improving upon current tactics, techniques and procedures.

Participating units use Citadel Shield as an opportunity to exercise mutual aid agreements with various local, state, federal and tribal organizations. In short, Citadel Shield includes not just the bases, but also city, state, county and federal resources. This coordinated effort between military and civilian responders is essential to support effective response activities during a large-scale event.

First responders treat simulated casualties during an active shooter drill at Naval Support Activity South Potomac during Citadel Shield 2013, Feb. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Andrew Revelos/Released)

First responders treat simulated casualties during an active shooter drill at Naval Support Activity South Potomac during Citadel Shield 2013, Feb. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Andrew Revelos/Released)

Training events like Citadel Shield are important elements of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the department.

Throughout the year, hundreds of planners nationwide continually develop, collaborate and modify exercise plans to make Citadel Shield, the largest Department of Defense anti-terrorism exercise in the world, a realistic and effective tool used to evaluate the Navy’s readiness and resiliency.

It’s truly been a rewarding experience to be a part of the exercise planning process and work with so many great individuals who are passionately committed to ensure that our Sailors, families and naval bases are protected from foreign or domestic attacks. There are literally hundreds of military personnel, civilians and contractors who strive to see Citadel Shield really taxes the Sailors’ training proficiency in a way that is realistic, constructive and safe.