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80 Proceedings Spring 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Operation Procedures (WCR MTOP) for Offshore Oil Pollu- tion Response, and bilateral agreements among the United States, Mexico, and Canada further define procedures, expectations, logistical arrangements, and cooperative efforts for environmental response operation. Within the U.S., the National Contingency Plan (NCP) guides government involvement in response operations. This plan, coupled with other regulations (such as those that require developing and testing vessel and facility oil spill response plans), provide the principal authorities and linkages necessary to mount an appropriate response. Unifed Command Elements The concept of a unifed command is explained within the National Incident Management System. When the U.S. has clear jurisdiction, such as when an incident occurs within a port area, the structure is clear — the U.S. Coast Guard pro- vides national representation, state and city governments provide regional and local representation, and the respon- sible party provides "ownership" representation. When it comes to international engagement, the term uni- fed command may take on a different meaning. If the inci- dent occurs outside of U.S. jurisdiction, responders must determine whether or not the spill threatens U.S. waters. If there is potential impact, the U.S. may staff a response organization. In this instance, responders will likely create two separate and distinct unifed commands — one for the foreign government and one for the U.S. This can become problematic if there is not a coordinated approach to the incident management process. While a singular incident management organization is typically desired, achieving this may not be physically possible or politically practical. In the event multiple unified com- mands are established, incident commanders must consider how they will be linked. One solution is to employ liaison offcers. However, when deploying a liaison or team to another country, it is impor- tant to set expectations for those personnel, including any authorities they may exercise on behalf of their government, briefng schedules to their chain of command, and critical or emergent notifcation criteria such as major successes or setbacks. Organizing the Response Of course, the ultimate goal of any operation is to mount the best response, and doing so requires a unity of effort. Applying the term "unity" to a situation where there are two separate unifed command structures seems contradic- tory, and it will be if there is no coordination. Building upon a scenario where there are two separate uni- fed command organizations, but linked through liaison teams, we add one more twist — responders have deter- mined a threat to U.S. interests. Now, the responsible party must answer to two governments. How is unity of effort and a best response achieved in such a complicated scenario? Much of that answer lies in how well the two command structures interact with each other. Under the National Incident Management System, there is a dedicated planning process that allows the unifed com- mand to set response objectives that drive response strat- egies and tactics. In a case where there are multiple uni- fed commands and distinct geographic boundaries, it may make the most sense to set complementary objectives. Envision an uncontrolled spill from a subsurface well, with large quantities of oil affecting open ocean areas. In National Strike Force Capabilities Worldwide Deployment ● Atlantic Strike Team — Europe, Middle East, eastern Canada, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Africa ● Gulf Strike Team — South America, Central America, eastern Mexico, Caribbean ● Pacifc Strike Team — Asia, Arctic, Antarctica, western Mexico, western Canada Highly Skilled Cadre of Professional Responders ● incident commanders ● operations, planning, fnance, and logistics section chiefs ● safety ofcers ● oil spill, hazardous materials, and salvage technicians Air-Deployable Response Equipment ● vessel damage assessment kits ● oil and chemical pumps, hoses, and temporary storage devices ● viscous oil pumping ● oil skimming systems ● alternative response monitoring for in-situ burns and dispersant application