NAS Fallon passes major evaluation
LVN Editor Emeritus
All systems are good at Naval Air Station Fallon.
After months of training and self-evaluations, the air station received a passing grade in July from Command Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and Fleet Forces Command evaluators. Both commands worked together to administer the two-day evaluation. Navy Region Southwest in San Diego, which worked with NAS Fallon personnel during the previously training, participated in an observation role.
“The final evaluation is the culmination of a three-year assessment cycle,” said Capt. Evan Morrison, commander of NAS Fallon. “The training and security departments and many other people put in a lot of work, energy and preparation for it.”
The evaluators spent several days at NAS Fallon grading the installation’s responses to an intruder, an active shooter with a hostage situation and an unplanned alarm. Once evaluators tallied the points, NAS Fallon achieved 87 percent with the minimum being 80 percent.
“We took a hit on our flight-line physical security,” Morrison added. “We are in the process of constructing an enclave around the flight line that will bring us up to the current requirement for security.”
Morrison said the goal is to meet the requirement within the next three to four months.
Morrison, the air station’s executive officer Cmdr. Marshall Chastain, and training officer Chris Pierce were pleased with the overall grade. If NAS Fallon had fallen below the 80 percent threshold, Morrison said personnel would be required to train constantly for six months under the watchful eye of evaluators sent by Navy Region Southwest.
“We don’t train to a grade, but we train to a mission,” Morrison said. “We train to a mission and make sure that we can complete that mission in a safe and secure manner.”
During the two days of evaluation, each scenario tested the air station’s response and how well security police handled the situation. After officers responded to an alarm near the Federal Fire Department’s station, other personnel were faced with protests at the south gate followed by a motorist running the gate in his vehicle and not stopping until police cornered him at the end of the road.
Pierce said personnel responded to an alarm not knowing if the situation was real or false. He said evaluators graded the security police officers on how well they responded.
At the base theater, security forces faced an active shooter situation and negotiated a hostage release. Medical personnel and paramedics from Banner Churchill Community Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services and Federal Fire set up a triage zone away from the theater to treat the wounded.
“Every person knew what to do and acted accordingly to how they trained,” Pierce said, adding officers neutralized the first suspect and then moved in to encounter the hostage situation.
Not only did Banner EMS paramedics respond to the drill but the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office also participated by reporting to the incident command station.
“The coordination and communication were phenomenal,” Pierce said. “CNIC and Navy Region Southwest want to see integration … they want to see us work with our outside partners who are always professional.”
During previous training exercises, the base has worked with other civilian agencies including the Fallon Police and the Fallon Churchill Volunteer Fire departments and Churchill County School District.
With the major training exercise now history, Chastain said NAS Fallon continually drills. Recently, the base conducted an earthquake drill.
“We did our first drill since the major evaluation,” he said. “The key to a high degree of readiness is a strong training department that is able to see and assess what we do well.”
As NAS Fallon’s executive officer and director of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Chastain ensures the base maintains readiness at the highest level and does not drop off in its responses to various situations. Chastain, though, previously served as an EOC director at another command, so he is aware of the Navy’s high standards.
“I’m impressed with the long hours of training, self-inspection and re-drilling,” he said. “I am also impressed with our folks.”
Pierce echoed Chastain’s observation in how personnel performed during the evaluation, and Morrison said much planning, briefing, executing and debriefing goes into each drill. Pierce said each tenant command becomes involved by loaning key personnel for up to three days to drill, and he said the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center also contributes personnel and its expertise. For NAS Fallon, the coordination pays off.
“The time to establish and forge a relationship is during the training, not during a time of crisis,” Morrison said.