St. Louis Public Radio News
12:28 pm
Tue March 25, 2003

Crews Stage Mock Suicide Bombing at Scott AFB

Scott Air Force Base, Ill. – Emergency crews at Scott Air Force Base responded to a fake terrorist attack Monday. An explosion simulated a bombing in which some of the base's top commanders were killed and half a building was destroyed.

The building is the headquarters of the 375th Airlift Wing, the unit that runs the airbase.

Colonel Larry Strube says the exercise was planned months ago and there was discussion of changing plans because of the war in Iraq.

"But we thought that was very important," Strube said. "This is something that we, as Americans, have learned to deal with.

"And we're going to have to deal with it in the future as our borders are not as secure as we once thought they were."

The mock attack allowed responders to deal with incidents at Scott Air Force base, but Strube says there are mutual aid agreements in which nearby fire departments or the military could respond to any disaster in the area.

Emergency crews responding to the fake attack to found out that a man had gotten the bomb in a package to the commander's office suite by posing as a delivery man.

While Col. Strube says such an attack is unlikely given Scott's security, he said they have to be ready for anything.

"Who would have thought a soldier would throw a grenade into a tent at Camp Pennsylvannia," he asked, alluding to an incident in Kuwait last week. A U.S. soldier was arrested in connection with a grenade attack inside a military camp.

Lt. Col. Eddie Bell evaluated how well crews responded to the Scott "disaster" and says it gave those who are first on the scene a chance to hone skills.

"We have to be prepared," he said.

Scott Air Force Base holds such exercises regularly. Monday's drill was the first sine the war in Iraq started.