Elmendorf, Alaska (SPX) Jun 09, 2010
Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and state of Alaska officials came together to participate in the Arctic Fencing Inter-Agency Arrow 2010 field training exercise here May 26.
The goal of the exercise was to test the interagency response between DOD, DOJ and Homeland Security members to an attempted aircraft hijacking.
"Multi-agency training opportunities such as this allow the participants to share best practices, develop professional relationships and fine tune coordinated responses prior to an actual threat to aviation," said Cameron Porter, the assistant federal security director of law enforcement for Alaska, Federal Air Marshal Service.
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 190th Air Refueling Squadron from the Kansas Air National Guard, simulated a Boeing 747 scheduled from Anchorage, Alaska, to Tokyo. The exercise commenced with two hijackers attempting to gain control of the aircraft.
DOD servicemembers, Kansas and Alaska Air National Guard members, Canadian military members, FBI agents, federal air marshals and the Alaska State Troopers participated in the exercise.
A federal air marshal team engaged the threat and took action to secure the aircraft while F-22 Raptors were scrambled to direct and escort the aircraft to the nearest airport. Once on the ground in Anchorage, FBI agents and the Alaska State Trooper Joint SWAT team made entry into the aircraft and worked with the federal air marshal team to secure it.
This exercise offered the Federal Air Marshal Service a rare opportunity to validate its tactical doctrine onboard an aircraft in flight.
"When federal air marshals board an aircraft they have only the resources they bring with them," Mr. Porter said. "These resources must be sufficient to resolve any situation that may occur in flight."
For the Air Force members, it was an opportunity to get interagency experience during a live fly exercise.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command is a bi-national U.S. and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America to include the monitoring of manmade objects in space, and the detection, validation and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.
Each service will use the information gathered from this exercise to enhance their ability to protect the traveling public aboard aircraft worldwide.
"The practices and lessons learned here can also be use in other locations," Colonel Balfe said. "We hope to continue these types of exercises in the future."
Federal Air Marshal Service officials said they were very pleased with the marshals' ability to stabilize the situation and communicate with the pilot, ground support and the joint FBI/AST SWAT team to secure the aircraft once on the ground.
"Interagency training exercises like this one are invaluable when preparing our personnel to deal with the unthinkable," said Annmarie Lontz, the special agent in charge of the Seattle Federal Air Marshals Field Office. "The experiences shared during this exercise will be a tremendous benefit for all involved and ultimately the flying public."
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