Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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69 Spring 2015 Proceedings Incident Command System (ICS), but it was not a common tool at the time. At the time of 9/11, ICS was the standard command and control system for the NSF. But very few out- side of the NSF understood ICS well and fewer were skilled practitioners. ICS and terrorism were not things that were on the radar at this point. The transition to Incident Command was diffcult, but nec- essary. We were tasked with a mission assignment — work- ing for the Environmental Protection Agency at Ground Zero and at the waste sites — conducting air monitoring and dust-suppression activities. So many eyes were on the NSF during that response. It was the multi-faceted set of problems with a highly political overlay that made it so challenging. It was unlike anything we'd yet seen. CK: It was around this time that biological agents were found at the Capitol? RDML Austin: While we were at Ground Zero, I received a call from the Gulf Strike Team commanding offcer, Capt. Ed Stanton (ret.), regarding the anthrax letters, asking if biological response was something the NSF could do. That was the start to CBR work in the NSF. No one looked at the capability of the teams before the request for forces — the NSF's make-up just "ft" the mission. A valuable feature of the teams is the ability to work inde- pendently in undefned environments; the NSF members tend to be masters in ingenuity. We easily adapted to the mission because of the operational exposure we'd already had in hazardous substance response. At this point, we, as the NSF, began to develop our required operational capability/projected operational environment (ROC & POE). This would become a critical component for the future. It would help defne what the NSF can and can- not do — it was the line in the sand. We needed to limit what we were doing, rather than become the jack-of-all-trades. But we also needed to defne the things we could do. "We needed to limit what we were doing, rather than become the jack-of-all-trades." The NSF had always done oil well. But as we developed the ROC & POE, there was laser-like focus on broadening NSF capability. One of the primary tasks was to defne the crisis and consequence management environments in which the NSF would operate. Our emergency response levels and our response protocols changed — we adopted the highest hazmat response capa- bilities we could operate in. The training our members received changed. Rather than an informal training environment, training venues changed to what we use today: Fort Leonard Wood Dismounted Recon Course, Center for Domestic Preparedness Tunnel Course, and others. The NSF contracted the best training providers and devel- oped specifc objectives to heighten our responders' skill levels. CK: What were your thoughts on the NSF taking on the CBR role, executing in support of the D.C. Capitol Police during the Capitol Hill anthrax response? RDML Austin: We were working with EPA Region 2 in Edison, New Jersey, when the anthrax letters were found at the Senate Hart Building in 2001. The AST dispatched a team to the District of Columbia to support. What made this particular case unique was the response command structure. Rather than the EPA being the primary response agency, as the incident commander, the D.C. Capi- tol Police, who work for Congress, held the role. This created a politicized and very dynamic response. Using ICS became essential to managing the response. September 11 th , Katrina, and Deepwater Horizon all shared some similarities. In these major crises, there's the incident and there's the event. The former is what we deal with imme- diately and tangibly — the hurricane's damage or the spilled oil in the water. The latter is the "politics" of the response, by which I mean all of the external stakeholders — government National Strike Force personnel respond to the U.S. Capitol anthrax attack. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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