Boone Center, State Police diffuse threat during bomb exercise

Story and photos by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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Kentucky Guardsman Spc. Austin Kirk, a security specialist at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort,Ky., plays the role of a terrorist during a training exercise designed to simulate a suicide bomb attack August 15, 2012. Ginger Starrett and Brady Murphy, also security specialists at BNGC were on scene to apprehend Kirk as he attempted to detonate a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. (photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

FRANKFORT, Ky.— An unassuming vehicle pulls up to the front gate of the Boone National Guard Center August 15, 2012 in Frankfort, Ky.  It’s a typical Wednesday afternoon.  The driver is motioned forward by Ginger Starrett, a security specialist assigned to BNGC.  White-knuckled with a stone-cold face, the driver pulls up to the entry control point.  Noticing his stern demeanor, Starrett begins to inspect the vehicle with a discerning eye.  An instant later, the driver has pulled out a homemade detonator and attempts to set off a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).What happened next was part of a carefully designed and choreographed series of events that was meant to diminish any further threat to service members and civilians working at BNGC.

“We have a plan for Boone Center”, said Eldern Riley, State Anti-terrorism Program Manager.  “Protect the assets and resources of the Kentucky National Guard including personnel and facilities.”

Col. Charlie Harris, State Security Manager, said that in addition to exercising the plan to keep the people of BNGC safe, the coordination with other agencies like the Kentucky State Police Bomb Squad and the Frankfort Police Department was important.

Despite the intensity of this event, it is not the first rigorous training exercise that has taken place at BNGC.  Other scenarios have included an active shooter situation in which the security forces had to respond to a shooter on post.

“Our security force has done a lot,” said Larry McCord, Security Operations Chief at BNGC.  “J2 (which deals with physical, personnel, and intelligence security) writes the plans and someone must implement it, we can do that.”

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Jennifer Chilton, an Interim Security Specialist at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., directs traffic away from the front gates after a Vehicle-Bourne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) was detected as part of a bomb threat exercise scenario at BNGCC in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 15, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The hard work of the BNGC officers has not gone unnoticed.  Over the past few years the BNGC has been presented the Army Security Award as well as the Department of the Army’s Best Antiterrorism Program Unit for 2011.The process of responding and adjusting to these kinds of threats is continually revamped based on prior exercises and training simulations.

“We learned some things and we’ll use what we learned to update future plans,” said Harris.

McCord noted that the exercise was a huge success saying, “It’s a big feather in our cap for the Kentucky State Police to give us credit for our part in the exercise.

The true benefit of conducting this kind of life-like training is the payoff that it brings.

Riley said that the training exercises helped the younger officers to prepare for real world events.

“There’s a lot more than most people think,” said McCord.  “Someday, someone is going to make a move and I hope that we’re there to catch it.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

The Kentucky Guard Command Staff directed August as Antiterrorism Awareness Month to bring a heightened sense to the potential threats against personnel and facilities throughout Kentucky.

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