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Drills Aim to Make Schriever Air Force Base Even More Secure

By 2005, there were 69 buildings on Schriever Air Force Base, which occupied more than 4,100 acres. The base was renamed in honor of Gen. Bernard Schriever in 1998 and was the first base to be named for a living individual. (Air Force/Courtesy Photo)
By 2005, there were 69 buildings on Schriever Air Force Base, which occupied more than 4,100 acres. The base was renamed in honor of Gen. Bernard Schriever in 1998 and was the first base to be named for a living individual. (Air Force/Courtesy Photo)

Leaders say drills this week at Schriever Air Force Base will make one of the most secure sites in the military even safer.

Driven by rising terror threats around the globe, Schriever's 50th Space Wing has spent the week battling mock attacks in an exercise that triggered a brief panic Wednesday when the mass-shooting drill was mistaken for a real-world incident. Security forces were back at it Thursday with a mock hostage situation inside the prison-like double fence of Schriever's secure area.

The phony attacks reflect a real-world concern at the base, where airmen control the military's constellation of communications and navigation satellites, said Anthony Mastalir, the wing's vice commander.

"The Paris attacks are a poignant reminder that these threats are everywhere," Mastalir said.

The military has not officially heightened security in the wake of last week's Islamic State attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and left more than 350 wounded. U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, which increased security measures at military bases in the U.S. in May to respond to Islamic State threats, said that there's no specific threat of attacks on American soil.

Northern Command spokesman John Cornelio said the command, which is responsible for protecting the continent from attack, continues "to work closely with our inter-agency partners to ensure we are sharing information on possible threats as soon as it becomes available."

Enhanced security at Schriever is fairly difficult to notice. The place has long been legendary for tight security with heavily armed guards and layers of protection.

"We have the largest secure area in the Air Force, and we have that for a reason," Mastalir said.

That security defends some of the military's most precious communications systems and the Global Positioning System, which the planet relies on for navigation and timing signals that regulate financial systems, telephone networks and the Internet.

"We generally have a heightened level of security at Schriever because of the mission we do," Mastalir said.

That mission, though, makes training for security breaches at Schriever difficult. While soldiers at Fort Carson can go to dedicated training areas for mock warfare, Schriever security troops must practice in the heart of the base while other airmen stay at their desks to control satellites. Mastalir said the satellite mission is critical to fighting in Afghanistan and the battle against the Islamic State and cannot be interrupted.

"We fight from the buildings right here at Schriever Air Force Base," he said.

The exercises are planned to cause a minimum of disruption for satellite operators, Mastalir said.

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