White Sands Missile Range will conduct a full-scale antiterrorism exercise Oct. 17 and 18, which will affect the Las Cruces and El Paso gates, the WSMR mail room and the Oro Grande gate on both days.
“We want the community to understand that this is an installation exercise. We ask them to be patient and prepare for the possibility of route closures and traffic congestion on both days,” said Directorate of Plans Training Mobilization and Security Director Dennis Stockwell. “We appreciate the community’s support and understanding as we improve our ability to respond to emergency situations.”
The two-day exercise will begin at 9 a.m. and run until about 4 p.m. each day. The exercise will test WSMR’s ability to deal with real-world scenarios on the installation.
All members of Team WSMR, to include Department of Defense military, civilian personnel and supporting defense contractors, as well as those who plan to visit the facility during those two days are required to cooperate with the exercise scenario.
“Many of the actions that will occur will be transparent to the workforce and residents of WSMR,” said WSMR Antiterrorism Officer James Sykes. “As the exercise is taking place and the Force Protection Condition levels increase, regular visitors to WSMR may encounter delays at all entry gates, along with random vehicle checks.”
Random vehicle inspections will be conducted by the Directorate of Emergency Services police and security guards. On those two days anyone entering the installation should be prepared for 100 percent identification checks.
Sykes said barriers will be implemented when Force Protection Conditions increase.
“The community is asked to prepare for delays as full-vehicle inspections will be conducted throughout the day,” Stockwell said.
On Oct. 17 a suspicious package exercise will be conducted at the installation’s post office. The mailroom exercise will require police and fire response and will cause a temporary closure from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Civilians who normally park near the mailroom will be asked to park further away as a precautionary measure during the exercise.
“Traffic routes could be diverted due to exercise situations, as well as parking lot closures,” Sykes said. “Please be patient and allow for extra time when attempting to reach your destination.”
On Oct. 18 the Oro Grande gate will be closed from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., for safety reasons.
An “Active Shooter” lockdown drill will take place at select facilities Oct. 18, one of the facilities includes White Sands School. Notices were sent out to parents and teachers about the lockdown. Students and school personnel were told to expect to see Soldiers with training rifles during the exercise, according to Sykes. The lockdown drill will also fulfill the school’s training requirement.
“We want to let parents know now and will continue to reinforce this message up until the day of the exercise,” Sykes said.
Along with the exercise, U.S Army Northern Command and Army North will be conducting tactical training exercises after WSMR’s full-scale exercise. The unit of Soldiers will arrive in C-130s on Oct. 17. The Soldiers will assist in WSMR’s two-day full-scale exercise, conduct their training exercise and depart Oct. 21.