Which Security Missions Are Military, Civilian?
An “overarching issue” in homeland security is which missions should
be assigned to military reservists and which should be handled by civilian first
responders, said Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve
Such missions as defense of U.S. air space, for example, “is a national
requirement,” Hall told a breakfast gathering of defense writers. Approximately
80 percent of the air defense flights are conducted by Air National Guard and
reserve pilots, he said.
“Most of them are pilots for the airlines,” Hall said. With the
economically troubled airlines offering fewer flights these days, the pilots
have plenty of time to fly for the Guard and reserves. “That will be a
continuing requirement,” he said.
To provide security at important sites around the country “we ought to
develop more... first responders... rather than have the armed forces do it,”
One of the proposals under consideration, Hall said, is the expanded use of
volunteer organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air
Patrol. “How about retirees? We have a huge pool of retirees. I am one
of them ... We can still serve.”
The Defense Department wants to focus the use of the Guard and reserves on
solely military missions, Hall said. Currently, 223,622 members of the Guard
and reserves—more than one out of four—are on active duty, the largest
mobilization of National Guard forces since World War II. In the past 13 years,
he said, “we have had eight mobilizations.”
Transferring Army Technology to States Not Easy
The U.S. Army has invested billions of dollars in training systems that would
have a variety of applications in homeland security. But transferring this technology
from the military to National Guard and law-enforcement agencies is easier said
A case in point is a marksmanship trainer—called Engagement Skills Trainer—which
can create virtual scenarios for infantry combatants as well as for police forces
and anti-terrorism squads.
The EST was developed by the Army’s program executive office for simulation,
training and instrumentation. The Army directed PEO STRI officials to market
the EST trainer to National Guard units and other homeland security organizations.
That has proven to be a tougher job than anyone had expected, said Lt. Col.
Joseph A. Giunta Jr., product manager for ground combat tactical trainers at
In the absence of a central procurement office for homeland security equipment,
the Army has contacted individual states, trying to interest them in the EST
trainer for their National Guard forces.
After discussing the matter with various Guard officials, Giunta realized,
to his chagrin, that most states lack funds for new technology and that each
state plays by different rules when it comes to the procurement of homeland
During a recent conference of the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement,
Giunta was asked what agency would be responsible to fund the procurement of
trainers for homeland security. His response: “If you can find out, please
Complicating matters is that fact that each National Guard unit has different
requirements for training. “It’s a challenge,” said Giunta.
“Each National Guard team in each state trains differently. ... The capabilities
An executive from ECC Corp., the Orlando, Fla.-based manufacturer of the trainer,
has been helping Giunta’s office pitch the EST to state governments. One
frustrated executive told National Defense: “It’s tough to deal
with individual states.”
National Guard Needs Cash for WMD Support Teams
The National Guard is making its case to Congress this month to receive sufficient
funds to stand up Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams in all states,
according to Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
“We have to figure out how we will fund that, how we will field those
teams,” Hall told reporters at a breakfast meeting. “No money was
put in the ‘04 bill, so we always have that challenge.”
He said that the National Guard has already committed to Congress that there
will be 55 of those support teams. The Guard has recently fielded the 32nd group.
Because of its size and population, California will have two teams, said Hall.
The concept for the WMD Civil Support Teams was developed back in 1998 during
Bill Clinton’s administration. The teams are meant to deploy rapidly and
assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of a
WMD attack. The teams also provide expert technical advice on response operations
and help identify response assets. Each team consists of 22 members of the National
“They have great capability,” said Hall. “We have used five
in the shuttle [Columbia] recovery. They have great...flexibility and mobility”
to do things like that.”
However, Hall stressed that there was no money in this year’s budget
either to allocate for the new teams. “The requirement was there with
no money,” he said. But he stressed that Congress will have to find a
way to add on the funds.
Coast Guard Goes to Dogs for Bomb, Drug Searches
As part of its role in homeland security, the U.S. Coast Guard is deploying
dogs trained to detect explosives and narcotics.
The dogs will work with the Coast Guard’s quick-reaction forces—known
as Maritime Safety and Security Teams and Tactical Law Enforcement Teams—to
conduct shipboard searches and helicopter deployments. They will be based initially
in Chesapeake, Va.; Seattle, Miami and the California ports of Los Angeles and
The dogs have been undergoing a rigorous, eight-week training course, learning
techniques for searching ships, vehicles and buildings, as well as deploying
from boats and helicopters. The training is being conducted in Mobile, Ala.,
by personnel from Auburn University’s Canine Training Center, near Anniston,
Pentagon Official Challenges Information Industry
One of the biggest deficiencies in the intelligence community is “knowing
what we do not know,” said Richard Haver, the special assistant to the
secretary of defense for intelligence.
“Our community ... has lost sight of what we do not know. Our systems
do not cue us to the unknown, they cue us to the known,” Haver said in
a speech at the Technet 2003 conference organized by the Armed Forces Communications
and Electronics Association.
The industry’s task in building next-generation systems, he said, is
thinking about how to incorporate the unknown factors.
Haver challenged the notion of “information superiority” that has
been circling in the intelligence and security community. Information, he said,
is just a small part of a bigger picture. “I have a particular unhappiness
with the term ‘information superiority,’” he said. “It
bothers me, because I do not think information is the answer.”
That information needs to be converted into knowledge that has to be made readily
available to decision-makers, he said. “I am not interested in information
superiority alone, I am not interested in knowledge superiority alone. I am
interested in decision superiority.”
The government has to work with industry to “significantly” change
the way “we are dealing with these problems” in intelligence gathering
and security, Haver said.
He equated the current situation with the security environment of the mid-1950s.
Back then, he added, “in a period of about 10 years, we reinvented the
way information was gathered. ... Industry built those satellites, industry
built those computers. ... The government gave the focus and the program management,
but the inventions were from the industry,” he said.
The United States is at a crossroads again, even though the government is dealing
with a different enemy and different circumstances. “Fundamentally, we
have to produce the same thing and we have to reinvent this community again,”
Cold Plasma Could Destroy Bio-Hazards
The Defense Department is looking to develop technology based on cold plasma
to decontaminate equipment exposed to chemical and biological hazards. Once
developed, this technology will also prove useful for homeland security, according
to industry experts.
Cold plasma supposedly destroys deadly microbes lodged on skin, weapons, medical
instruments or clothing. Research shows that plasma can rapidly break down complex
chemicals found in nerve gas and deadly biological agents, such as anthrax.
A Connecticut-based company, Markland Technologies, will take over management
responsibilities for three ongoing military research and development contracts
involving cold plasma. Markland spent $1 million on atmospheric pressure plasmas
(cold plasma) developed by a company called ASI, according to a company release.
‘Sick’ Buildings Find Their Cure
Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory has licensed a
system that can destroy airborne biological agents as they move through a building’s
heating and air conditioning ducts.
The system sterilizes “sick,” buildings, airplanes and cruise ships
by neutralizing and destroys pathogens as they pass through a building’s
The technology has passed proof-of-concept tests that involved retrofitting
the system into existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The system works without any special filtering that might impede airflow, according
to Johns Hopkins.
“We’re seeing that the technology can be easily scaled up to handle
real-world environments,” said Richard Potember, the project manager at
APL’s Research and Technology Development Center.
The Bio-Defense Research Group, Inc., in Upper Marlboro, Md. will build this
“The Bio-Defense Research Group will take the research from APL’s
prototype stage and scale it up to a system that works as effectively in commercial-size
buildings,” said Potember.
Prime candidates for such a system are hospitals, where it could knock out
staph and other infections.
Air Force Gets Force Protection on the Half Shell
To protect Langley Air Force Base, a team of government agencies and private
environmental groups has built a manmade oyster reef under the waters of the
Back River. Langley, in Hampton Roads, Va., is home to the Air Force’s
Air Combat Command.
The reef was built of natural oyster shells and recycled porcelain, and nearly
250,000 seed oysters—native to the nearby Chesapeake Bay—have been
transplanted there. “That reef—with its oyster shells and other
sharp objects—will certainly slow down any seaward attack on the base,”
said Raymond S. DuBois, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and