188th security forces Airmen train for civil disturbance response
By Tech. Sgt. John E. Hillier, 188th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 10, 2019
EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark. -- Airmen with the 188th Security Forces Squadron, along with other military and civilian agencies, participated in a civil disturbance response exercise March 30-31, 2019, held at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
Dubbed Operation Phalanx, the exercise provided the almost 400 military and civilian participants an opportunity to practice working together under realistic conditions when responding to a civil disturbance.
In addition to 188th Airmen, participants came from the 189th Airlift Wing, the Army National Guard’s 216th Military Police Company, the Arkansas State Police, and several city police departments throughout the state.
“The National Guard has a civil disturbance responsibility in which we act as aid to civilian authorities in case there’s a civil disturbance that gets too big or out of hand,” said Master Sgt. Frank Koeth, 188th Security Forces Squadron domestic operations coordinator. “If it’s too big for them to control, that’s when they would call in the Guard. And that’s what we were there to exercise, our ability to integrate with civilian agencies.”
“An actual call-out to a civil disturbance is not the time to learn that kind of stuff,” Koeth explained. “If our people ever respond for something like this, they’ll have been through it before. They’ll know how the state police and the 216th MPs will communicate and what assets they’ll bring to the table.”
Phalanx is an annual exercise that builds on experience from previous years. One new aspect to this year’s event was to hold it at night.
“We needed to make sure we could exercise our ability to have fresh troops on the line and how we would operate overnight,” Koeth said. “Past experience has shown us that usually a civil disturbance can turn into a riot situation in the nighttime hours, so we wanted to exercise our ability to do that over a longer 12-hour period.”