Northcom Urged to Set Priorities
The U.S. Northern Command needs to set priorities in its homeland security
responsibilities, recommended a recent Defense Science Board study.
The study, led by retired Adm. Donald Pilling and Donald Latham, suggested
15 new tasks for Northcom. “We know that putting all these [tasks] on
their plate now would be too much,” said the study.
The “big four” priorities, as the study called them, are developing
an integrated plan for maritime surveillance; developing a low-altitude air-threat
defense roadmap; taking the operational lead for Defense Department mission
critical infrastructure protection in the continental United States, and leading
homeland defense-related exercises, training, experiments and standards.
Northcom also should sponsor an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD)
for information sharing. This ACTD should be able to test new strategies for
information sharing, classification, data tagging and collaboration.
The command needs to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security,
share information and interact with other agencies, according to the study.
For peer-to-peer contacts between Northcom and DHS, clear guidelines need to
be drafted, stipulating the availability of Defense Department resources and
potential policy commitments. The assistant secretary of defense for homeland
defense must be kept informed of issues and progress, said the Defense Science
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Study Focuses on Surviving Terrorist Attacks
The Rand Corporation has published a 33-page guide to preparing and responding
to a chemical or biological attack. The free book titled, “Individual
Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear and Biological
Terrorists Attacks,” is the result of a year-long study to see what the
public would face in those situations.
“It is the most authoritative study in this area,” said Kenneth
Shine, director of the Rand Center for Domestic and International Health Security.
“It’s the first time anyone has built guidelines based on attacks,”
said Lynn Davis, a senior political scientist at Rand.
The strategy, said Davis, is determining what people would face in an NBC attack,
and what rules and steps to follow. People’s actions could make a difference
in whether they survive, she said.
“Acting very quickly is critical,” Davis said. “The dangers
will arrive quickly; emergency response won’t.”
Each chapter examines a particular type of event and specific actions that
an individual should take. For example, during a chemical attack the overarching
goal is to find clean air immediately. Specific actions include taking shelter
in the closest building, closing all doors and windows, and shutting off the
flow of air.
Along with the book is a small expandable reference card containing steps to
take during an attack.
Davis recommended that people take some fairly simple steps, such as storing
a battery-powered radio, duct tape and plastic sheeting to cover windows and
doors during a chemical attack. They also should have a dust mask.
“Should protective gear be as common as fire extinguishers? It’s
important to start thinking about it,” she said.
Maryland Creates Security Innovation Center
The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation, in Annapolis, Md., has created
a homeland security technology incubator, to help companies market their products.
Seven firms have leased sites in the Chesapeake Innovation Center. The industries’
expertise includes biodefense, communications and information technology solutions.
More than 100 companies went through a four-step application process scrutinizing
business potential, technical merit, commercial viability and potential economic
impact to the region. The center is 80 percent leased.
Participants include Global Wireless Network, designers and manufacturers of
wireless hardware devices; ICUC, a communications company that integrates telephone
numbers with Internet services; Lighthouse Communications LLC, a location-based
services and wireless communication; PharmAthene Inc., which specializes in
the development of human therapeutics and vaccines to treat and prevent biological
warfare threats; Realinterface Expert Systems, which provides first responders
with wireless diagnostic and surveillance tools; Real User Corporation, which
has patented Passface, a password technology; and Secured Processing Inc., which
owns a patented technology for insider threats on personal computers and workstations.
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States Need to Manage First Responder Funding
The U.S. government must do a better job providing access to funding, equipment
and training to first responders, said Connecticut Governor John Rowland.
Speaking before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, Rowland endorsed
legislation that would allocate grants to states on the basis of a threat to
a region’s population and critical infrastructure.
He advocated allocating funds through governors’ offices and not directly
sending money to municipalities.
“Comprehensive interoperable national and state plans simply cannot be
created if funding goes directly to municipalities or other separate organizations
without the involvement of the state,” Rowland said. “State coordination
is essential and must be maintained.”
The grant process should be simplified, he added. There is too much overhead
and bureaucracy at the federal level.
“The 16 different grant programs spread across three major federal agencies
and several sub-offices are simply too cumbersome and too confusing,”
The grants should be dispersed based upon threat analysis and unique regional
vulnerabilities. Funds could be sent to areas that are deemed most vulnerable
by the intelligence agencies, he said.
Financial incentives for creative partnerships also should be offered, Rowland
But matching grants should not be required, he said. “Available grants
are of no use if we cannot afford the match. Unfortunately, that is a reality
in today’s economic environment,” Rowland said. “This is all
the more reason why regional grant initiatives and applications for grants must
be coordinated through the states.”
“Allowing towns and regional entities to apply for their own grants,
while looking to the state to help cover matching requirements, is simply not
practical,” said Rowland.
He praised programs such as FIRE ACT, COPS and Emergency Management Performance
grants. “They are working, and must be maintained. Let’s not ‘rob
Peter’ to find new grant money for ‘Paul.’”
States and municipalities have spent millions on homeland security, Rowland
said. And they are now working on detailed threat assessments in preparation
for fiscal year 2004 funding.
Connecticut, for example, has created a homeland security office entirely with
state funding. It has set up a state anti-terrorism task force to assist local
law enforcement. Connecticut also has linked police, fire and emergency medical
incident commanders through a statewide communications system. The state is
bonding $3 million to equip a state Urban Search and Rescue Team and plans to
invest $30 million in a state-of-the-art public health lab and portable 100-bed
hospital, Rowland said.
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Boeing to Test Cargo Security System
The Boeing Company has been selected to demonstrate its cargo container security
system for Operation Safe Commerce, a Department of Homeland Security initiative
aimed at protecting U.S. ports.
Boeing soon will begin a 10-month trial of its system at both the Port of Los
Angeles and Port of New York.
“Our solution provides for the secure and efficient movement of containerized
goods on a global scale from the manufacturer to a port of entry and on to retailers,”
said Rick Stephens, vice president and general manager of Boeing Homeland Security
According to Boeing, its system integrates real-time, in-transit container
information with existing and future networks and databases.
“Our solution can confirm that [a cargo container] has not been tampered
with along the way,” said Fernando Vivanco, Boeing communications director.
“Part of the tracking is knowing when the cargo left, that it [has] not
been opened, and verifying [the cargo’s security] all along the way.”
Boeing is teaming up with ADT Security Services Inc., Global Marine Security
Systems Company, Iridium Satellite LLC and Parsons Commercial Technology group,
to take advantage of commercially available technologies, Vivanco said.
Congress approved $58 million in funding, in 2002, for the Department of Homeland
Security to improve protection of international and domestic cargo through pilot
projects involving the three largest container load centers in the country.
Boeing was awarded $4.2 million for the Port of Los Angeles demonstrations.
However, the company declined to disclose the award amount for the Port of New
Operation Safe Commerce will examine new techniques for increasing security
of container shipments. The Port of Tacoma/Seattle, along with the Port of Los
Angeles/Long Beach, and New York/New Jersey, will work with private and public
entities to identify supply chain weaknesses and develop technologies to secure
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Coast Guard ‘Rescue 21’ Behind Schedule
The Coast Guard will have to reschedule its initial operating capability for
Rescue 21—the planned modernization of its search and rescue systems.
The service was to begin testing the new technology in September. A new schedule
currently is in the works.
The postponement was attributed in part to delays in the development of the
technology, said the General Accounting Office, a Congressional watchdog agency.
Rescue 21 is a $611 million program to upgrade the Coast Guard’s communications
systems. The program will replace a wide range of aging equipment, including
VHF-FM radios, consoles, remote transceiver sites, as well as the network connecting
270 sites. The equipment would be installed on nearly 700 vessels, and the Coast
Guard would purchase approximately 3,000 portable radios.
“In reviewing the Coast Guard’s test management practices, we found
that the Coast Guard postponed key tests, in part, because prior schedules showed
delay, overlap and compression of tests, which increased the risk that all requirements
would not be tested. In addition, schedules for key tests and deliverables,
including test plans, were still outstanding,” according to GAO.
These tests (formal qualification testing, system integration testing and operational
testing and evaluation) are incremental checks that the Coast Guard is planning
to perform before reaching initial operating capability.
GAO recommended that the Department of Homeland Security direct the commandant
of the Coast Guard to “establish a new schedule for critical testing phases
and initial operating capability, and ensure that milestones are established
for completing test plans...”