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Laughlin participates in Scarlet Hawk 18-05 exercise

Members of the 47th Security Forces Squadron, as a part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise Scarlet Hawk 18-05, respond to the scene of an active shooter, Aug. 23, 2018. While the 47th SFS conducts its own exercises regularly with its local community and emergency services partners in addition to base-wide exercises like scarlet Hawk 18-05, it’s important for all base personnel to respond to a situation with speed and importance, exercise or not. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Moulage, used to simulate various wounds, is strewn out on a table as Laughlin medics prepare for active shooter exercise, Scarlet Hawk 18-05, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 23, 2018. Fake, but realistic wounds were applied to players so first responders would have a chance to react to a real-world catastrophe. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Second Lieutenant David Arneberg, 47th Student Squadron undergraduate pilot training student, is given a makeover simulating a gunshot wound in advance to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ active shooter exercise, Aug. 23, 2018. Fake, but realistic wounds were applied to players so first responders would have a chance to react to a real-world catastrophe. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Members of the 47th Security Forces Squadron, as a part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise Scarlet Hawk 18-05, respond to the scene of an active shooter, Aug. 23, 2018. While the 47th SFS conducts its own exercises regularly with its local community and emergency services partners in addition to base-wide exercises like scarlet Hawk 18-05, it’s important for all base personnel to respond to a situation with speed and importance, exercise or not. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Members of the 47th Security Forces Squadron, as a part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise Scarlet Hawk 18-05, respond to the scene of an active shooter, Aug. 23, 2018. While the 47th SFS conducts its own exercises regularly with its local community and emergency services partners in addition to base-wide exercises like scarlet Hawk 18-05, it’s important for all base personnel to respond to a situation with speed and importance, exercise or not. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Emergency Responders from the 47th Flying Training Wing respond to the site of an active shooter as part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise, Scarlett Hawk 18-05, Aug. 23, 2018. One of the exercise’s goals was to test the joint response effort between Laughlin and its community partners—a test the Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans, believes went very well. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Emergency Responders from the 47th Flying Training Wing respond to the site of an active shooter as part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise, Scarlett Hawk 18-05, Aug. 23, 2018. One of the exercise’s goals was to test the joint response effort between Laughlin and its community partners—a test the Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans, believes went very well. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Emergency Responders from the 47th Flying Training Wing respond to the site of an active shooter as part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise, Scarlett Hawk 18-05, Aug. 23, 2018. One of the exercise’s goals was to test the joint response effort between Laughlin and its community partners—a test the Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans, believes went very well. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Emergency Responders from the 47th Flying Training Wing respond to the site of an active shooter as part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise, Scarlett Hawk 18-05, Aug. 23, 2018. One of the exercise’s goals was to test the joint response effort between Laughlin and its community partners—a test the Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans, believes went very well. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

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Emergency Responders from the 47th Flying Training Wing respond to the site of an active shooter as part of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ base-wide exercise, Scarlett Hawk 18-05, Aug. 23, 2018. One of the exercise’s goals was to test the joint response effort between Laughlin and its community partners—a test the Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans, believes went very well. (U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

For the Department of Defense, one of the biggest threats to security is on the inside: an active shooter that’s trained, willing and able to open fire on fellow service members.

The scenario was the subject of a base wide exercise as part of Scarlet Hawk 18-05, Thursday, Aug. 23, when an Airman, playing the part of a disgruntled military member, walked into Club XL and hypothetically changed the course of Laughlin history forever.

It may not seem possible at first glance, however, Chuck McKaughan, 47th Security Forces Squadron anti-terrorism program manager, describes the crisis as an ever-so-real possibility no matter the place.

To complicate matters, and to drive home the importance of conducting exercises and raising awareness, Kaughan described the mere seconds one must respond to a real-world situation.

“When the warning of an active shooter comes out, what many people are not aware of is that [the crisis] is already happening,” he said. “The active shooter, at that moment, holds all the cards. The defenders and emergency personnel response are purely reactionary.”

Scarlet Hawk 18-05 put the base’s traditional response to the test while implementing newer capabilities, like the ability to help emergency medical services tend to injured victims much faster, and joint-coordinated efforts with local community agencies like the Val Verde Regional Medical Center, the Del Rio Fire Department, and the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Even with Laughlin’s newer capabilities, according to Kaughan, it’s vital for all base personnel to respond to a situation with speed and importance, exercise or not.

“There’s two distinct terms the Air Force uses during these situations, it’s ‘shelter-in-place’ and ‘lockdown,’” he said. “The difference is that shelter-in-place, which is a designated room in a facility used to prevent an atmospheric threat from intruding. A lockdown is an immediate threat that requires quick action to protect yourself.”

It’s a distinction in the first few moments of a situation-in-progress that was observed and recorded by Laughlin’s assigned wing inspection teams, or WIT members, like Willard Brown, 47th Wing Staff Agencies chief of wing plans.

“I thought the lockdown procedures went very well as far as people’s energy and personal response,” he said. “I also thought our coordination with off base agencies to respond, turning it into a joint-exercise, was also a positive.”

Brown, along with Kaughan, agree that while the base’s response to Scarlet Hawk 18-05 was good in several respects, they also strive for units to always improve, and never let up or get complacent in their work centers.

“It’s important to be ready for any type of situation,” Brown said. “and it’s all our responsibility to be prepared.”