A Training Opportunity

Ramstein AB, Germany, location of USAFE headquarters, got an emergency alarm over the weekend of an in-progress missile attack on the base. The alarm turned out to be false.

There are a couple of ways such a false alarm might be triggered. One is that the alarm was part of an exercise and the exercise label simply dropped or missed. Another is that, as part of a Russian exercise, by happenstance in also progress, missiles were launched at exercise targets inside Russia during that exercise’s final phase, and detection systems acted on the fact and a short time later (but after the alarm had been sent) recognized the launches for what they were and canceled the alarm.

In any event, as “a Pentagon official” said,

It’s important that we find out what happened, for a lot of reasons. We don’t want people getting needlessly alarmed, and we don’t want them to be complacent in the face of a genuine alert.

“Ramstein officials” also noted

Today, the Ramstein Air Base Command Post was notified via an alert notification system of a real-world missile launch in the European theater.  The Command Post followed proper procedure and provided timely and accurate notifications to personnel in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

And in response to the alarm, those officials said,

Those who heard the warning took it seriously.

Which raises another important aspect of the false alarm: the real-world operational training opportunity the alarm presented to the base and the surrounding Kaiserslautern Military Community. Finding out what happened regarding the transmittal of a false alarm should include a detailed, critical post mortem on the base and community response to the fact of the alarm. That post mortem also should include an assessment of why less than everyone heard the alarm.

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