CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The National Guard Bureau Homeland Security Institute, in cooperation with Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, recently hosted the second annual General and Flag Officer Homeland Security Executive Seminar, here.
Fifty professionals throughout the country from the rank of colonel to major general and DoD civilians attended the course designed to provide a broad understanding of federal and state emergencies, crisis decision making and multi-agency collaboration.
The seminar provided senior leaders with a common operating picture of the resources and capabilities required to effectively respond to the challenges of a landscape-scale catastrophic event. It emphasized the critical role of the National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard as the backbone of the nation’s leadership cadre providing the essential intermediate response to large, complex and multi-jurisdiction events.
The course began with topics of crisis management and responding to federal and state emergencies.
“This seminar was an excellent training opportunity for senior leaders responsible for homeland security in their respective organizations. The professors and guest lectures were world class, but the fellow students had a wealth of experience dealing with floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the adjutant general, Vermont National Guard. "I am proud of how the Vermont National Guard responded to the challenges presented as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. As a result of this course, I consider myself even more prepared for the next disaster that may strike our state.”
The course continued with main topics of decentralized multi-organizational response, building capacity for multi-agency collaboration, political and operational interface and working with the private sector during emergencies.
Brig. Gen. Julie Bentz, director of strategic capabilities policy, National Security Council, stated: “It has given me insight into the cognitive biases that I bring to policy development and has challenged me to maintain and enhance the decentralized options necessary during crisis."
The course concluded with a brilliant forum moderated by Prof. Herman “Dutch” Leonard, Harvard School of Business and featuring the following keynote speakers: Gen. Craig McKinley, chief, National Guard Bureau, retired Adm. Mary Landry, director of incident management and preparedness policy, U.S. Coast Guard and Brig. Gen. Julie Bentz, director of strategic capabilities policy, National Security Council.
After the forum, the class convened at the historic Harvard Loeb House for a dinner banquet and certificate presentation.
Leonard provided opening remarks to the audience: “I commend General McKinley for having the vision to see that there was a program that could be used to develop the capabilities of the National Guard Bureau and affiliated agencies."
Leonard thanked the Massachusetts National Guard for being the host of the event and introduced Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the adjutant general (acting), Massachusetts National Guard. “It is all about relationships and dealing with the unexpected. If you shake six people’s hands in line, you’ll touch six billion people in the world," said Rice.
Rice introduced McKinley and stated: “It is our honor to introduce the first four-star general of the National Guard, General Craig McKinley.”
“This seminar comes at a pivotal time for all of us. Secretary Panetta calls this a strategic turning point and Arnold Punaro calls it an inflection point. The president’s new strategic guidance informed us that the military is part of the defense of the homeland," said McKinley.
“As defenders of this great nation, we are challenged every day, just as when this nation was started with 10 consecutive miracles when a guy by the name of Washington showed up and said ‘you really want me to take on the greatest military power the world’s ever known?’ The answer was yes, do it!”
Rice presented McKinley the Massachusetts Medal of Merit signed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
McKinley and Rice awarded the class with certificates at the end of the course.
The course was deemed a great success by class participants as it provided a common management framework which can be used as part of strategic decision-making processes within the agencies that protect our nation in times of crisis.