Friday, August 24, 2007

Liveblogging: Noble Resolve 07-2 (OTB)

I would like to introduce you to the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM). These are the people behind the scenes who do all they can to ensure that we are safe and secure. Please visit their site, and you may receive news through the e-mail by subscribing to their site. This is one of their articles which I am sharing with you. I did not write this, but I sure do like it! lol. Thank you.

Robert Pursell from U.S. Joint Forces Command Public Affairs blogged live Aug. 22 from Noble Resolve 07-2, the latest in the command's series of experiments examining ways to improve information sharing between various levels of government and improve military support to civil authorities both before and after natural and man-made disasters. The experiment brings together numerous partners at the federal level, such as the Department if Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command, and at the state level, such as the state of Oregon.

Editor's note: USJFCOM Public Affairs provided a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed for this liveblog all day. This allowed readers to track Robert's entries in real time as they are posted. Click here to add this feed to your RSS reader. To learn more about RSS and other feeds USJFCOM offers, click here.

12:15 p.m. - I'm here in Suffolk, Va. today for the third day of U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Noble Resolve 07-2, a series of experiments designed to improve information sharing and enhance homeland defense measures and military support to civil agencies during natural or man-made disasters.

Although sponsored by USJFCOM, Noble Resolve is an experimentation campaign plan supporting U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). You might remember NORTHCOM was the command set up after 9/11 to work the military aspects of homeland defense. Noble Resolve participants look at this as a great opportunity to open the lines of communication by sharing information in the event that there was ever a real threat aimed at the U.S. and its interests.

I'm situated in the middle of the Joint Operations Center at USJFCOM's Joint Futures Lab where I have a first-hand view of everything that's going on. There are three huge projection screens in the front of the room, each showing something different. I'll get to what those are later. There are also about 50 people here, each with their own computer. It shows how far technology has come in the last couple of decades and how it's being put to good use.

This portion of Noble Resolve is focused on the Pacific theater. In April's Noble Resolve 07-1, the scenarios involved threats in Norfolk, such as a terrorist threat on a ship in the city's harbor and what would happen if a massive hurricane came into town, how would authorities react and share information? Today, some of the scenarios will include a tsunami hitting Hawaii and an earthquake causing a dam break in Oregon.

Just as I typed that, someone on the loud speaker just announced that there was tsunami warning off of Hawaii, so I guess we're on our way. In my next blog, I'll discuss some of the technologies and tools that participants are using for these experiments.

2:31 p.m. - At this point in the experiment, the scenario dealing with the Hawaiian tsunami has officially become a disaster. Officials have just announced that the tsunami has hit Waikiki Beach and water has come up to the first floor of beach hotels. When all this is going on, especially with Hawaii which is miles from the mainland, one might ask, "How will they receive any support?" That's what Noble Resolve is all about.

As I noted earlier, this event it using state-of-the-art technology to its fullest in order to share information in a high-speed fashion. USJFCOM officials are particularly excited because it's a chance to use some of its own modeling and simulation (M&S) tools.

I had the chance to talk to Navy Capt. John Kersh, the experimentation director of Noble Resolve who explained to me what I was seeing in the front of the room on the three huge displays.

He said the first screen on the left, showed the Event News Network, along with C-SPAN.

"It's a Web site for just the participants where all of our video pieces are parked," he said. "You can click on them and bring them up. We'll put up video that we've created displaying simulated footage of the disaster. We have our own news network, kind of like CNN."

The middle screen shows the Integrated Common Analytical Viewer (ICAV), owned by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). In the weeks building up to Noble Resolve, organizers seemed excited over the chance to use this tool.

"It is the common operational picture that DHS is using. It allows us to work through processes with first responders at the different fusion centers," said Kersh.

ICAV looks like a map of the area they're focusing; in this case it is Hawaii. Participants can apply different layers to give different looks for the area. For example, you can apply a layer that shows all of the hospitals in the area so you can figure out a plan as to which hospitals are available or closest to the impact zone. Also, because ICAV is web-based, it's easier to access as well.

Kersh said the screen on the right displayed the master scenario event list which indicates which scenario is being executed and its description just to keep people on the same page.

Another announcement was just made. As part of the simulated event, it seems that the Oregon earthquake scenario just kicked off. The announcement, which I now know is coming from the Event News Network, said buildings in Portland are on fire and the Beaver Dam just collapsed causing wide-spread flooding. It seems like there's a lot going on at once here, yet everyone is calmly doing their job.

4 p.m. -- Sitting in front of me are foreign officials from Japan and Finland. In addition to the state and government, USJFCOM is also partnering with foreign liaison officers from other countries for Noble Resolve 07-2. One of those liaison officers is Col. Byungjin Park, from the Republic of Korea.

He discussed with me what he is looking to get out Noble Resolve for his country, which has a long history as an active geological region.

"We have the same situation with our changing environment," said Park. "With the military we have to coordinate with the civil authorities, so in terms of that, we use the scenarios here to develop a process to provide assistance to our disaster areas."

He said once his government takes all that is learned from past disasters in their region and develop their own process, they'll be in good enough shape to provide support to other countries.

"We are going review our own process to help provide support to international disaster areas," said Park. "We have lessons learned from Katrina, from the tsunami in Asia in 2004, as well as the Pakistan earthquake situation. It has also allowed us to review our own government process.

Park also noted that the opportunity to work with such intricate information tools is beneficial.

"With some of the experimentation tools, such as ICAV, it will be very interesting and helpful to update our own systems," he said.

After speaking with Col. Park and looking around at the other liaisons busy at work, those countries are really going to benefit from their involvement here.

6:31 p.m. - When looking around, all you see is people busy talking and clicking away on their keyboards. But what are these people actually doing and what piece of the puzzle are they to fit into this Noble Resolve campaign? That's sort of the untold story around here for an outsider. I decided to go around and talk to a few people to see what their role in this was.

One person I talked to was Mark Nesselrode, a training analyst from Old Dominion University. He was brought in help set up the training portion of the event and keep a watchful eye on it. Once things wrap up, he'll evaluate and offer recommendations on where to improve the training process.

I also talked with Lisa Orloff, founder and executive director of the World Cares Center. She explained why her organization is participating.

"We saw after 9/11 a larger way that we need to utilize our citizens more effectively in disaster response. They need to be not only asked to serve but educated and trained properly so they can be used as force multipliers for disaster response," she said. "We're here to observe and to see if the technologies can be used to more effectively to allow responding agencies to access those resources."

I also had the chance to converse with Matt Begert, an executive for the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue. Like the others he's here observing for his organization. He said the process was extremely beneficial and it's a great first step.

I talked to Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brad Stillabower. He is a reservist who, based on his experience with FEMA, is a role player acting as a representative from there.

"They have role playing slots associated with different agencies and they didn't have anyone here from FEMA so they asked me to pretend that I'm from there and answer questions and simulate as if I worked there," he said.

7:40 p.m. - So far, we've discussed everything that's been going on here in Suffolk, however, most of the action is out west. I was given the opportunity to speak with Air Force Maj. Marty Plotner of the Oregon National Guard. He's the guy in charge out there.

Plotner said so far things have been going well.

"We're thrilled with the opportunity to get the experience and work some of the systems that other agencies are also examining," he said. "The internal review on some of our procedures is fantastic and it's a great opportunity for us to expand our relationship building because we have a number of first responder and local folks participating and it's a great network for us."

He explained the benefit of working with USJFCOM.

"The biggest benefit is that USJFCOM is actually actively testing these systems and trying to work both the interoperability and information distribution processes."

Plotner discussed what's next for everyone out in Oregon.

"Our next step is taking some of the lessons learned and some of the tabled items that we weren't able to resolve this week and problem-solve that out and to continue to expand the networks that we're working with," he said. "It's also going to be important to ask questions of the agencies that we're working with, including the Office of Emergency Management and local first responders, and get ready for the next exercise. The hope is that we're well-prepared and well-suited when the first emergency does arrive."

That just about wraps things up for the third day of Noble Resolve. As I noted earlier, this is an information sharing event. This is a great way to experience it, without it actually happening. If a similar threat were to occur, authorities can draw back on their experiences from Noble Resolve and say, "Hey, this is what worked in Noble Resolve, let's apply that to our current situation."

Watching things up close and personal, there are some extremely bright and intelligent people, along with some sophisticated tools, on the right path to creating processes for dealing with disaster.

This concludes the liveblogging for Noble Resolve 07-2. If you have more questions, please click here to send us an email.

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis Digg!

I have decided to post this article (that was written by the USJFCom) because I would like to give them some exposure. They do so much for us that we are unaware of, and I would just like to give them so kudos and gratitude. Thanks and have a great day!

These are the posts I have backtracked to through Linkfest: Outside the Beltway, Is It Just Me?, Leaning Straight Up, Faultline USA, Walls of the City, The World According to Carl, Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Faultline USA, Big Dog's Weblog, Shadowscope, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, CommonSenseAmerica, Church State, Pirate's Cove, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Perri Nelson's Website, The Bullwinkle Blog, third world county, Woman Honor Thyself, DeMediacratic Nation, The Uncooperative Radio Show!, and The World According to Carl, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

These are the posts whom have backlinked to this post:
1. Nanotechnology Today: Beyond batteries Storing power in a sheet of paper.
2. The Amboy Times: Joe Kaufman of Americans Against Hate - on H&C.

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