British Forces Cyprus (BFC) said on Thursday they had just completed a realistic exercise which aimed to prepare the bases community for any crisis it could be faced with in the future.
The exercise – Lions Mane – tested both military and civilian personnel working within the bases and in particular, the Joint Operations Centre in Episkopi, which in times of crisis, would dictate BFC’s response to any incident, it said.
The exercise centered around a simulated terrorist attack on Dhekelia where three soldiers were shot and a hostage scenario ensued.
It aimed at replicating as closely as possible, what could happen under real circumstances, the bases said.
“We have to be prepared for any eventuality,” said Sovereign Bases Areas (SBA) Police Chief Constable, Mick Matthews. “Recent events have told us that tactics will change from those who wish to bring terror to the public and our job is to make sure that we keep this community safe. Our job during this exercise was about putting in an appropriate intervention.”
Throughout the exercise, those taking part were constantly being assessed to monitor how they reacted to a rapidly changing scenario, according to an announcement.
Detective Chief Inspector, Keith Surtees, an expert from the National Counter Terrorism Police HQ in London, said: “I now have a much broader understanding of the uniqueness of the British Sovereign Bases that will help us in formalising contingency plans in the future.”
Cyprus police also took part. Chief Inspector Costas Konstantinou said their participation had further enhanced the working relationship between the two police forces.
“The cooperation between CyPol and the SBA Police is ongoing and we share working practices in tackling crime,” he said. “Joint exercises are always welcomed by us (CyPol) in order to enhance the mutual support and it is something that we will continue to pursue in the future.”
Colonel Mick Aston, in charge of operations in the bases said BFC spends a lot of time preparing for such incidents. “This exercise was based around a terrorist threat but we must also be prepared for other sorts of threats, such as a civil crisis, an emergency of some sort and even a natural disaster, all of which will require a coordinated police and military response, whilst working closely with the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.