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Quarterly exercise keeps Thule ready for real-world situations

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado -- In just five days the Airmen at Thule Air Base had to deal with an active shooter, a sexual assault incident, storm condition changes, shelter in place and do an emergency operations center tabletop recall.

Each of these events was an important part of Condor Crest, a quarterly base exercise meant to challenge the readiness and preparedness of Airmen and the effectiveness of their responses. Thule's Condor Crest was held Nov. 3-7.

Thule is a geographically separated unit attached to the 21st Space Wing, so the general construct of the exercise is the same and follows the same schedule as Peterson's Condor Crest. Tech. Sgt. Simon McCabe, 821st Air Base Group exercise coordinator and installation emergency manager, said because the weather is so drastically different, the exercises have to be altered slightly to accommodate that.

"We have limited resources and personnel, so our capabilities are much less," McCabe said. "For us, it's more of the initial response we prepare for."

The small population consists of about 550 people, which includes military personnel as well as Greenlandic and Danish contractors.

McCabe said the exercises not only allow them to evaluate AFI 10-2501 Air Force Emergency Management Program Planning and Operations and make sure the military personnel are ready for any situation that might arise, but to make sure the contractors are in compliance with the base maintenance regulations as well.

"We rely heavily on our Danish and Greenlandic partners," he said. "Continuity and interoperability is a must."

And work together they did. Overall, the exercise was a success McCabe said, including the storm condition exercise that was interrupted by a real-world storm.

"Here at Thule we have five separate storm conditions," he explained. "The intent of our exercise was to progress from normal conditions up to storm condition CHARLIE."

Due to the real-world storm that descended on the base, the response that followed was evaluated.

McCabe said the base went to Storm Condition BRAVO, with sustained winds greater than 20 knots and visibility less than one mile. All non-essential personnel were restricted to base and a buddy system was required by anyone traveling on foot or in vehicles without a radio.

No discrepancies were noted and the exercise-turned-real-world-event went off without a hitch, he said, providing a prime example of exactly why quarterly exercises are required.

By participating in possible scenarios and practicing them, Airmen and their civilian or contractor counterparts can better understand their role on a day-to day basis and their part in the mission.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui