Japan Engineer District
Published Sept. 29, 2021
People standing around.

Teyo Santana, Security Manager, Japan Engineer District, and John Herron, Assistant Security Manager, Japan Engineer District, conduct an antiterrorism exercise at Japan Engineer District headquarters on Camp Zama, Japan, September 8, 2021. The exercise helped people practice reacting to possible threats in real time, helping keep USACE employees safe should the need to enact these protocols in real-life arise.

“Exercise! Exercise! Exercise,” the voice boomed over the building’s public address system, “Emergency! Emergency! Emergency! There is an emergency situation on the installation. Lockdown! Lockdown! Lockdown!”

This is how Japan Engineer District’s antiterrorism exercise began the morning of September 8, 2021, at their headquarters located on Camp Zama, Japan. The exercise was spearheaded by the security team of Teyo Santana, JED’s security manager, and John Herron, JED’s assistant security manager.

The team described the language leveraged during the exercise as “universal” helping familiarize JED team members with syntax used across the Department of Defense, commercial hotels, malls, and other public buildings.

“They may be somewhere else and hear something similar and they’ll know what to do in an emergency situation,” Santana pointed out, emphasizing the real-world usefulness of the exercise.

Moving door-to-door, office-to-office, Santana and Herron inspected people’s reactions to a scenario that can easily become a reality in today’s world. To make sure people knew what to do in advance, the security team sent out an email with tips and tactics to employ when the exercise kicked off.

Tips included locking all doors and windows, turning off office lights, silencing phones, and closing window blinds.

“For the most part, people followed the procedures. I think they payed attention and they went through the PowerPoint and hit most of the major things,” Herron reflected. “A couple of things that we noticed were that blinds were still left open. So, people should be aware that blinds need to be closed if there are assailants or somebody looking for easy targets – [this way] they won’t be able to view the interiors of our building.”

Santana nodded, agreeing with his partner that interior visibility was an area that could be improved upon in the future.

“Even though you may be on the second floor or third floor, you still need to close those blinds,” Santana emphasized.  “You still need to shut off those lights because whoever could be approaching the building - they could see up on the second floor and realize that there’s someone up there, making them a potential target.”

Not only did offices take the exercise seriously, some employees got innovative in efforts to keep fellow team members safe in the event of an actual emergency.

“One of the things [logistsics] did,” recounted Santana, “…is they have a small window that you can actually see in. They took a piece of cardboard and they taped it over the window and to the wall and to the door. So if an individual was trying to get into that space, they’re not going to be able to see in, but as they were trying to push their way in, that tape from the cardboard that’s attached to the wall will make noise. That allows individuals that are in that workspace to know that somebody is trying to enter their space and they can be prepared to react to that situation that may be occurring.”

Herron found himself impressed by JED’s record’s management office.

“They already had a plan in place for accountability. They had already pre-planned on where to go and how to account for the personnel after the “all clear” had been given. That was very good,” he said.

The two said that engagement in the exercise was high, with JED teammates reaching out afterwards to get more tips and tricks for the future. And while they’re thrilled to have such an enthusiastic workforce within the JED headquarters building, they’re anxious to push out the same training to all area offices within the district.

“We really appreciate the support of [JED],” added Santana. “...we’re going to be reaching out to the other area offices also to work with them to be able to train them up so that they have that information also. We were appreciative of how everyone wanted to work with us and learn the proper way to do things in an emergency situation.”

Santana and Herron say that there will be additional exercises in the future covering differing emergency scenarios.