Personnel from Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, the 436th Airlift Wing and supporting agencies gather in the Command, Control and Communication Center at the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, Dover Air Force Base, Del., for a mass fatality tabletop exercise Feb. 12, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chalanda Roberts)
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. —
The operations center of the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs hosted a packed crowd Feb. 12 for its first tabletop exercise to put to test a mass fatality scenario.
The operations center, the hub for the command, control and communication portion of the mission, opened in March 2013. Changes to C3 included incorporating other aspects of the mortuary mission as well as creating work centers for base and sister service agencies in the event of a mass fatality. The center has 41 work stations as well as additional private office space to accommodate multiple people.
"We need to be prepared to execute," said Col. John M. Devillier, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander, in his opening remarks of the table top exercise. "And we can't do it alone - we have to do this as a team."
The scenario included casualties from Dover Air Force Base as well as Navy casualties. Although five or more casualties is considered a mass fatality, the scenario included 18 casualties arriving on two aircraft to potentially stress key players and get them thinking outside the box, explained Cory Larsen, AFMAO Operations Support chief.
Senior Master Sgt. Brian Denny, the port mortuary superintendent and Robin Vitale, C3 manager did a remarkable job of creating a mass fatality plan and exercise, added Larsen.
"It is a piece of our mission we hope we are never called upon to enact, however the reality is at some point we might," said Larsen.
Personnel from security forces, vehicle operations, the aerial port, contracting, public affairs, protocol, communications, force support, service liaisons and more discussed any limiting factors that may be an issue if this scenario were to ever happen.
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Finan, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron, NCO in charge of vehicle operations control center, explained manpower would be the primary concern for their support of the mission. Realizing it may be an issue, he reached out to several installations within reasonable commuting distance to augment the support his shop could provide.
"We support whatever mission is given to us," said Holly Mehringer, 436th Mission Support Group deputy commander. "The mission on our flightline is airlift, but when the airlift brings in a dignified transfer, that is our mission and we take that very seriously - that is a no-fail mission."
The exercise was educational for both sides, said Mehringer.
"We look forward to partnering in the future," she added. "It's our honor to help make your mission successful and bring our heroes home."
The Friends of the Fallen and USO were also in attendance to discuss the support they would provide for the families and carry teams coming to Dover.
"The men and women of AFMAO cannot be successful without the outstanding support from the professionals of Team Dover," said Larsen. "Active duty, reservists, civilians and volunteers alike provide world-class support whenever we call upon them. Our nation's fallen and their families deserve the best we have to offer and this exercise enables us to ensure we are always ready if the time comes."