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Groton - Starting Monday, the Naval Submarine Base will conduct three major security training exercises, some of which include live automatic weapons firing with blanks. The exercises will occur through Feb. 28.
On Feb. 20 and Feb. 25, as part of the exercise, the base may increase its force protection condition and limit access, possibly affecting local traffic. Traffic may be temporarily blocked and access to the base may be briefly delayed at other times as security forces move throughout the installation. The Naval Security Force drills are regularly scheduled and designed to enhance readiness to respond to threats to the base and its submarines.
Firing weapons with blanks from Feb. 17 to Feb. 21 is a "new and very realistic element to this year's training," Al Atkinson, the base training officer, said, and the base worked with the Coast Guard and local law enforcement authorities to plan for it. The most activity will occur during the morning and afternoon drills along the base waterfront on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19.
"While it will help our security forces get the most out of the training, we want to ensure our neighbors in the community and all base personnel are aware of the live automatic weapons firing with blanks and do not panic or cause undue concern in the community," Atkinson said in a statement.
The base security boats, waterfront units and simulated aggressor boats will be involved, said Atkinson, who noted that the exercises will only occur during the work day.
"If our neighbors or base personnel hear gunfire or something of concern before 8 a.m. or after 4 p.m. that week, then they should report it immediately for the proper authorities to investigate," he said.
These exercises, Citadel Protect and Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2014, will also be conducted at naval bases and installations throughout the continental United States. During some scenarios, base personnel and patrons at base activities will be required to briefly shelter in place.
"Headlines from around the world continue to show that terrorists are highly innovative and adaptive," Cmdr. Kurt Stronach, executive officer of the base, said in a statement. "This local training will simulate real-world responses to real-world threats and will be extremely valuable in stressing different areas of our Naval Security Forces' anti-terrorism program as realistically as we can."