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Truax hosts joint 'suspicious' package exercise

Tech. Sgt. Michael Harvey, 115th Security Forces Squadron, provides cordon security  around Bldg. 500 following a report of a suspicious package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Tech. Sgt. Michael Harvey, 115th Security Forces Squadron, provides cordon security around Bldg. 500 following a report of a suspicious package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Senior Airman Erich Sanford, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, readies a F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot for a trip to the second floor of Bldg. 500 during a “suspicious” package exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Senior Airman Erich Sanford, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, readies a F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot for a trip to the second floor of Bldg. 500 during a “suspicious” package exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Tech Sgt. Paul Opper, 115th Security Forces Squadron, Lt. Col. John Gaedke, 115th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Tim Covington, 54th Civil Support Team, discuss various response methods to a “suspicious” package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon LaDue)

Tech Sgt. Paul Opper, 115th Security Forces Squadron, Lt. Col. John Gaedke, 115th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Tim Covington, 54th Civil Support Team, discuss various response methods to a “suspicious” package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon LaDue)

Senior Master Sgt. Edward Smith, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight and Exercise Evaluation Team member, walks behind the F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot that was used to give critical intelligence to responding forces during a suspicious package exercise held at here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Senior Master Sgt. Edward Smith, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight and Exercise Evaluation Team member, walks behind the F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot that was used to give critical intelligence to responding forces during a suspicious package exercise held at here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

The video camera on a F-6A Andros hazardous explosive robot, relays the live feed to a trailer outside of Bldg. 500 where this computer gives a view of a “suspicious” package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

The video camera on a F-6A Andros hazardous explosive robot, relays the live feed to a trailer outside of Bldg. 500 where this computer gives a view of a “suspicious” package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Senior Airman Erich Sanford, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, sits outside of Bldg. 500 in Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, while he sets up a laptop to receive imagery from a F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon LaDue)

Senior Airman Erich Sanford, 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, sits outside of Bldg. 500 in Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, while he sets up a laptop to receive imagery from a F-6A Andros hazardous duty robot. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon LaDue)

A fire fighter from the 115th Fighter Wing Fire Department walks a fire hose to the decontamination pool to prepare for any possible chemical contamination from a “suspicious” package that was found in Bldg. 500 March 18 as part of an exercise here. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

A fire fighter from the 115th Fighter Wing Fire Department walks a fire hose to the decontamination pool to prepare for any possible chemical contamination from a “suspicious” package that was found in Bldg. 500 March 18 as part of an exercise here. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Two fire fighters from the 115th Fighter Wing Fire Department strategize about emergency response tactics outside of Bldg. 500 where a “suspicious” package was found March 18 as part of an exercise here. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Two fire fighters from the 115th Fighter Wing Fire Department strategize about emergency response tactics outside of Bldg. 500 where a “suspicious” package was found March 18 as part of an exercise here. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th Civil Support Team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Capt. Kenneth Van Horn, 54th Civil Support Team science officer, examines data suspicious package and response protocols for a "suspicious" package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th CST. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Capt. Kenneth Van Horn, 54th Civil Support Team science officer, examines data suspicious package and response protocols for a "suspicious" package during an exercise here March 18. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th CST. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

Two members of the 54th Civil Support Team open and examine the contents of a suspicious package during a joint exercise here March 18. The 54th CST provided support on examination, testing and extraction of the package. They also assisted the 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight with decontamination of their equipment. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th CST. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)
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Two members of the 54th Civil Support Team open and examine the contents of a suspicious package during a joint exercise here March 18. The 54th CST provided support on examination, testing and extraction of the package. They also assisted the 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight with decontamination of their equipment. The joint exercise included many different units on Truax Field as well as the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 54th CST. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dan Richardson)

MADISON, Wis. -- "For the Commander Truax Field"   Emergency responders got the call shortly after it was discovered -- approximately 7:40 a.m. They weren't exactly sure what they were responding to, but it was "suspicious." 

It was a small cardboard box, taped up and found in the command suite of Bldg. 500. It was addressed to the commander with no return address, no postage paid, not even a real address. 

The suspicious package exercise was held March 18 on Truax Field as part of a yearly requirement to test the emergency management and response capabilities for natural or man-made threats. The exercise involved every group on base and a few external organizations as well. 

"The exercise was intended to test the capabilities of each responding element working together under Air Force Emergency Management and communication processes. It's rare that all agencies are given the opportunity to work together and see what each agency brings to the (table)," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Lemke, 115th Security Forces Squadron. 

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Miles, 115 FW, discovered the package and, according to exercise evaluators, acted appropriately and in line with what today's Airmen are trained to do. 

"Sergeant Miles did an outstanding job of recognizing the package did not belong in the area," said Lt Col John Gaedke, 115th Mission Support Group. "She sounded the alarm, which then activated all emergency response forces." 

Security forces quickly set up a cordon around the building and were the first to evaluate the package. 

The 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight then maneuvered their F6-A Andros hazardous duty robot up the stairs to the second floor of Bldg. 500 to assess the package. After the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team finished their examination of the package and found it to be free of any explosive threat, they turned it over to the 54th Civil Support Team to further evaluate the package. 

"It is rare that an exercise goes exactly as planned," said Sergeant Lemke. "In reality, it's the decisions and actions of the players that dictate how the exercise goes." 

In addition to the 115 FW's involvement, many agencies from outside the gate participated as well, to include the 54 CST, U.S. Postal Service Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation - Madison Office and the Wisconsin Joint Operation Center. 

"In the post 9/11 world, it is critical that all agencies can work and communicate with each other," said Col. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th Fighter Wing Commander. "Everyone did a great job and really reinforced joint operations." 

The 54 CST responded with a decontamination trailer, equipment, personnel and a lot of experience and insight. Their primary role was to provide Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear response and support capabilities. They provided decontamination for 115 EOD equipment, which in a real-world situation could mean its availability for future contingencies. 

After a truly joint effort in recognizing, communicating, evaluating and neutralizing the threat, every player gained a little more experience and when the after action report is published, everyone will be able to take those lessons and apply them to future scenarios or even real-world events. 

"Exercises help us prepare and train for real world emergencies. They allow us to sit down afterward and evaluate every aspect of the scenario, to determine what worked well and what areas need attention," said Colonel Brandemuehl. "The more exercises we do, the better prepared we are when we deploy overseas or respond to a State or local emergency."
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