FORT A.P. Hill, Virginia. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 229th Military Police Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, conducted active shooter training July 14, 2020, during their two weeks of annual training at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
“This is going to be what MP’s will see if they are on a military base and there is a report of an active shooter,” said Capt. Quentin Escobar, commander of the 229th. “This gives the soldiers the training that they need to respond effectively and efficiently in that situation.”
MPs in the 229th train to move towards the sound of an active shooter. “If we respond to a multi-level building, we go straight to the sound,” said Escobar. “MPs have to be able to move tactfully through a building quickly to respond to that noise. We are under the mindset that with every ‘bang’ we hear, that’s a potential loss of life.”
With more than 30 years of experience as an MP, 1st Sgt. Danny Warren continued to pass on his knowledge to both officers and enlisted Soldiers of the 229th during their annual training. 1st Sgt. Warren cited the Army Values and Soldier care as key components to success in the military.
“Without integrity you don’t have anything,” he said. “Take care of your soldiers. If you take care of them, they will take care of you. If they can’t trust me and I can’t trust them, then we don’t have a team.”
Warren also stressed how todays MPs are a major part of the Virginia National Guard’s combat support.
“We are the state QRF (Quick Reaction Force) and technically we can be called into any of the five missions that we do. Today’s training will be key going forward because it is one of our roles in the combat support effort.”
The unit conducted scenarios to train for reacting to active shooter threats both at home in the states and those they might face when deployed overseas. The missions utilized buildings and mock casualties, as well as between one and four active shooters per scenario.
The training also used special ammunition to further help simulate an actual active shooter scenario. These non-lethal training rounds are designed to be fired through police and military service weapons using a conversion kit that only allows simulated rounds to be fired during training, helping create a more realistic training environment.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unit took classes remotely in the months leading up to their AT. They also conducted dry runs and wall-throughs in the days leading up to the exercise, helping the unit get up to speed for the event.
“The platoons have plenty of active-duty law enforcement officers, of which I am one,” said Spc. Kyle Licud of Virginia Beach. “I’m actually out here as an advisor to the senior staff running the scenario because I responded to the active shooter that we had last year in Virginia Beach on May 31st.”
As the state’s only Military Police unit, the 229th and Escobar place the utmost value on the quality of their training.
“Whether it’s a pandemic or a severe weather situation, or a social situation where we need to respond, we want to be able to respond effectively,” Escobar said. “So no matter what is going on in the world, we will continue to train.”