Military, agencies plan disaster drills

The U.S. Joint Forces Command and Northern Command are planning a series of computer-based disaster drills with four states this year as part of their Noble Resolve 2008 preparedness exercises.

The drills are intended to enhance military support during and after natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks. The participating states are Indiana, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.

Although the Joint Forces Command is based in Suffolk, Va., and Northcom is at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., the exercises will bring together participants using computer models and common scenarios, Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of the joint concept development and experimentation directorate for the joint forces, said in a news release.

The scenarios will focus on maritime domain awareness, tracking of weapons of mass destruction, information sharing and tracking of populations.

Participants will make decisions and work together online just as they would in case of a real crisis. By using the models, no troops or emergency personnel will have to actually deploy or respond to events, saving money and time, the news release stated.

"We can let them actually see the scenario and provide their responses and execute their procedures in their own locations, fusion centers and operating centers," Davenport said.

Other participants in the exercises include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Department, U.S. Pacific Command, National Guard Bureau and National Guard organizations from several states. Several smaller Noble Resolve events will be held throughout the year, as well as a major exercise in July.

Disaster drills typically involve government employees, contractors, public officials and volunteers. Government contractors sometimes are called on to provide additional support during major preparedness exercises.

Alice Lipowicz writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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