Military drills in Virginia Beach test security readiness

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Operation Solid Curtain got underway Thursday at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story.

Much like real-life incidents that have happened in Hampton Roads, first responders from both the military and civilian agencies joined forces to save lives and property.

Photos: Operation Solid Curtain held in VB

Fire and Rescue crews from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic were the first to arrive on scene during Thursday’s drills. Although it was not a real plane crash, the scenario is based on actual events.

“On December 13, 1984 there actually was a small aircraft that came in short to runway 2-3 into Norfolk International Airport,” explained Chief Ken Snyder, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.

In this drill scenario, the aircraft clipped the Port Operations Tower and crashed on the base. With casualties spread out, there was organized chaos.

“God forbid something like that happens, but if it happens we want to be ready. We don’t want to have seen it for the first time when it actually happens,” said Lt. Col. Jamie Efaw, Deputy Joint Base Commander.

They wear different uniforms, but on Thursday, the Coast Guard, Navy and Virginia Beach Fire-Rescue were all on the same team. This kind of team work has already proven its value, most recently during the Navy jet crash at Mayfair Mews Apartments in Virginia Beach.

“In 2012, if we hadn’t done the training for that, I don’t think we would have had the success we had with Mayfair Mews,” said Snyder.

“It’s a great opportunity for the organizations that are outside the base to come in work those things that we’ve talked about or we’ve done table-top exercises, and see if they work in a real, live situation,” Lt. Col. Efaw.

All of the agencies that participated in Thursday’s exercise will meet to determine what went well and identify areas where improvements can be made. Operation Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield runs through Feb. 28. Officials say other aspects of this exercise could create traffic problems entering and exiting naval installations in the area.

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