NEWS | Aug. 29, 2018

U.S. Army Garrison Japan Tests Emergency Preparedness with Annual Full-scale Exercise

By Noriko Kudo U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- U.S. Army Garrison Japan conducted its annual full-scale exercise Aug. 20 through 23, which included participation from various units on the installation, neighboring cities' first responders, and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Will Luna, Camp Zama's installation emergency manager, said the exercise focused on terrorist threats this time to ensure that the installation's security forces are prepared to respond to different types of threats in order to keep the community safe.

The exercise included three major scenarios: an active shooter on the nearby Sagamihara Housing Area, a helicopter crash on Camp Zama's airfield cause by a drone, the discovery and mitigation of a suspected "explosive device" on Sagami General Depot. Also incorporated into the exercise was a shelter-in-place drill on Camp Zama.

"One of the main purposes of these exercises is to see if our (emergency preparedness) plans are executable," said Luna.

Luna said the exercise gave him and his team the opportunity to see which emergency plans can be sustained, and which ones need improvements or revisions.

"Every time we do one of these exercises, we get just a little bit better," said Luna.

Luna said if any of the threats presented in the exercise actually occurred, he is confident that law enforcement and emergency services personnel on the installation would be able to respond properly with the knowledge and confidence of having trained on those scenarios.

Another intent of the exercise was to build stronger relationships with the cities neighboring Camp Zama, JGSDF, sister services and other tenant units.

"No individual or individual organization can do as good as all of us (can) together," said Luna.

Col. Phillip K. Gage, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said the real value of the exercise is to be able to practice with all the different elements working together as one team.

"As we complete this exercise this week we can honestly look back and say that we are more ready at the end of this exercises than we were at the beginning," said Gage.

Paul Fameli, chief of operations and plans for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, who was part of Emergency Operation Center function throughout the four-day exercise said, the community is definitely in a better place than before the exercise in terms of the capability to prepare, to respond and to recover from a major event whether it's man-made or natural disaster.