LEXINGTON, Mass. – The National Guard Bureau Homeland Security Institute, in cooperation with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, recently hosted the first of its kind Homeland Protection Course in January 2012 at Hanscom Air Force Base.
Fifty professionals from across the country and all branches of service from the rank of lieutenant colonel to brigadier general and DoD civilians attended a five-day course designed to provide a broad understanding of Homeland Protection missions, enabling technologies, architectures and current challenges. The course consisted of technical lectures, tours and hands-on exercises. Each lecture, tour and exercise was given by a leading expert at MIT Lincoln Laboratory who works in that particular area. Dr. Israel Soibelman, Head of the Homeland Protection and Air Traffic Control Division at MIT Lincoln Laboratory provided opening remarks. “The mission of MIT Lincoln Laboratory is technology in support of National Security,” said Soibelman. “Our key roles are system architect engineering, long term technology development and system prototyping,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Paul G. Smith, Assistant Adjutant General (Army), Massachusetts National Guard gave a warm New England welcome to the class. “I thank you for traveling here to attend this important course. For 375 years the National Guard has been in the business of homeland protection. This course will assist our leaders to prepare for the unique challenges we may encounter in the future,” said Smith.
Smith had the distinct pleasure of introducing Maj. Gen. David L. Harris, Director of Joint Military and Civil Operations, National Guard Bureau. Harris provides direct leadership for National Guard Domestic Operations programs including Homeland Defense, Civil Support, Counterdrug, and Military Support to Civil Authorities.
“What you will discuss during this course is how we will do business at the operational and tactical level,” said Harris. “Defense of the homeland is our number one priority and we are in a no fail scenario. Our ability to respond to Defense Support to Civil Authorities has to be unequivocally ready to go and is our main priority,” said Harris.
The course began with topics on Homeland Air Defense and Air Security and future challenges. “This is a unique opportunity for Coast Guard members to get the latest information on technology for the homeland protection mission,” said Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, Director of Governmental and Public Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard in Washington D.C. “It is a dual benefit for us particularly with the National Guard as we have a shared interest in their support of defense. It’s a win on both fronts; learn about the technology and network with the Guard,” said Shultz.
The course continued with main topics of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Disaster Response Management. “This course is vital for our organization because it deals with cutting edge homeland security technologies,” said Brig. Gen. Elton Lewis, Assistant Adjutant General for the U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard and Director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency. “From a strategic level this course will be good for our future decision making process regarding protection of the homeland,” said Lewis.
Cutting edge presentations in Communications and Cyber Security were very popular and relevant for the class as the course progressed during the middle of the week.
“We are here to learn about homeland protection and Inter-Agency coordination and will help me determine where the efforts are and how to leverage my parent agency (DHS) to match our acquisition needs,” said Ms. Rashea McCall Jackson, Lead System Engineer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington D.C.
The course concluded with a real world Homeland Protection Exercise which all class members participated in and deemed it a success.
“It is very challenging and exciting for me to learn that the nation’s brightest scientists are working on technology advances that will benefit soldiers on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Lisa Meriwether, Director of Military Support, Rhode Island National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard presented the class with certificates at a banquet ceremony at the end of the course. “In March 2011 a Presidential Policy Directive titled National Preparedness stated our Commander in Chief sought strength, security and resiliency for the nation through systematic preparation for threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of our nation,” said Carter.
“In response to the challenges posed in those critical documents, The Massachusetts National Guard committed itself to becoming the agent of change in the realm of Homeland Security preparedness. Today, we’ve taken another critical step toward fully realizing the vision of creating and sustaining a program of professional training that identifies, engages and leverages the very best military and academic resources to the nation,” said Carter.
The inaugural course was deemed a great success by the class participants as it provided a common homeland security framework which can be utilized as part of strategic decision-making processes within the agencies that protect our nation in times of crisis.For information on future National Guard Bureau Homeland Security Institute’s courses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.