Military Lessons Benefit Homeland

February 2008
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

Capt. Ed Campbell, USN, U.S. Northern Command, explains global maritime traffic patterns during Noble Resolve 07-1. Noble Resolve is a U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) experimentation campaign plan to enhance homeland defense and improve military support to civil authorities in advance of and following natural and man-made disasters.
Futurists experiment with defense and civil support concepts designed for fighting operations.

Some of the most forward-thinking minds in the U.S. Defense Department that regularly tackle the tough tactical problems in the Global War on Terrorism are applying their innovative ideas at home. These architects who design the latest military approaches to defeating the enemy are assisting combatant commands, specifically the U.S. Northern Command, to determine the best ways to support homeland defense. In addition, these experts are ferreting out the most ideal balance for the department in its support to civil authorities. Recent experiments that demonstrate technical capabilities are bridging the gap between the military, other government agencies and civilian organizations by facilitating information sharing and creating critical partnerships that are essential during times of crisis.

Members of the Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Directorate (J-9) at the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), Norfolk, Virginia, currently are reviewing the results of a two-part event that specifically dealt with homeland defense and the response to crises. Noble Resolve 2007-1 and -2 were offshoots of two 2006 experiments in which the directorate participated that focused on operations in an urban environment overseas. Multinational Experiment 4 examined how to integrate coalition elements of power to influence adversary behavior in Afghanistan. Urban Resolve 2015, an experiment with a scenario set in Baghdad, Iraq, identified the capability gaps that take place in an urban setting.

In addition to the directorate’s experiments, a 2006 U.S. Army war game called Unified Quest added to deliberations regarding the special challenges an urban environment poses. The war game fictional situation focused on smuggling nuclear device components. The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, was interested in determining how early the military could identify a threat that originated overseas and then prevent that threat from reaching U.S. shores. Further, the command questioned how best to reduce the damage and shorten disaster response times.

As the combatant commands’ go-to source for exploration, JFCOM was the obvious choice for NORTHCOM to call to help fill in some of these blanks. Accordingly, the Noble Resolve dual-segment approach first addressed threats to the U.S. East Coast and then tackled issues specific to the U.S. West Coast, which covers a much larger geographical area.

Despite the geographic differences, directorate personnel identified several key concerns common to both areas. As a result, they focused on maritime domain awareness and the information integration and sharing necessary to support both homeland defense and crisis management.

During the first segment—Noble Resolve 07-1, which took place in April 2007—conditions as they exist today were documented and potential solutions identified for improving information sharing and communications interoperability. These ideas aim at facilitating collaboration between the Defense Department and multinational, local, state and federal agencies.

The experiment involved four primary objectives: identify and evaluate the current state of maritime domain awareness information; assist the Commonwealth of Virginia in evaluating information sharing and situational awareness to support threat response and consequence management planning; examine worldwide logistics efforts needed when major logistics nodes or key lines of communication are compromised; and study the information flow and process requirements when a catastrophic event disables a U.S. or foreign post. Participants in the event included government agencies and multinational partners.

The scenario for Noble Resolve 07-1 involved terrorist activities and one natural disaster all occurring within a matter of days and all requiring the assistance of the military located in the Norfolk, Virginia, area. All of the crises were centered in the maritime environment.

Noble Resolve 07-2’s scenario also involved both manmade and natural crises. The fictional situation began with significant global tension from unrest at the G-8 summit and volcanic activity erupting on Mount Hood in Oregon. A foreign-flagged vessel detonating a radiological dispersal device pierside during an unscheduled stop in Guam followed this turmoil. Then, based on a note found on a foreign pier, another non-U.S. vessel bound for Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon, was designated a vessel of interest. Meanwhile, intelligence reports indicated that a radiological dispersal device might be onboard one or more vessels heading for the North American West Coast. Finally, the scenario included a major earthquake that takes place in the Portland, Oregon, area and causes large-scale infrastructure damage to the city and nearby port.

While Noble Resolve 07-1 piggybacked on training events taking place in Virginia, Noble Resolve 07-2 was an independent event. In addition, although both segments of the experiment involved approximately 100 participants, the latter integrated modeling and simulation tools more extensively into the activity. Further, for Noble Resolve 07-2, JFCOM worked more closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Homeland Defense, which is part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard participate in the Noble Resolve experiment held at JFCOM’s complex in Suffolk, Virginia. The primary goal of this experiment series is to locate, identify and eliminate the communications bottlenecks occurring between federal and local government agencies. 
Rear Adm. Daniel W. Davenport, USN, director, Joint Innovation and Experimentation Directorate, JFCOM, explains that the impetus for the Noble Resolve events stems at least in part from the challenges identified very clearly during Hurricane Katrina and the events that surrounded it. NORTHCOM stated the need not only for the Defense Department but also for all U.S. government agencies to be able to respond to those types of crises, he says.

The admiral explains that during Noble Resolve 07-2, the J-9 demonstrated a common operational tool that the  DHS had been developing called the Integrated Common Analytical Viewer (ICAV). The viewer, resembling the area of operations map, enables all key participants in an event to see a common operational picture. Participants can change the view to focus on different areas of interest. For example, users can highlight all the hospitals in an area so they will know which are closest or most available in the area of activity.

“We were able to demonstrate—in the field at the federal, state and local responder levels—that a tool like this would be very effective in providing information sharing and coordination across these different agencies. It ensures that our first responders are in fact connected and seeing the same situation develop as well as have a way to coordinate and collaborate,” Adm. Davenport explains.

Based on this demonstration, it is the J-9’s understanding that the DHS is establishing ICAV as its standard tool and is pushing it out to state and local authorities to make it their standard as well, he adds. Although NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will have access to the tool, it was developed specifically to address the difficulties federal and local authorities are facing in trying to connect with the DHS.

Another sorely needed capability is one that allows collaboration across different security domains—classified, unclassified and multinational—and language barriers. Some significant progress has been made in this area, the admiral allows, and Noble Resolve provided a forum to evaluate one product. The Cross-Domain Collaborative Information Environment, or CDCIE, supplied this capability, and Adm. Davenport says the directorate is now attempting to have it transitioned into the program of record.

In addition to ICAV and the CDCIE, the Noble Resolve participants examined maritime domain awareness capabilities. The admiral relates that the J-9 examined these technologies not only from the Defense Department perspective but also from how the department plugs into federal and state groups to share information about the maritime domain.

Work with both Virginia and Oregon gave the directorate the opportunity to examine these states’ first-responder capabilities and coordination processes. In doing so, the directorate was able to help them improve their procedures and processes, as well as infuse some organizational changes. Many of these enhancements were based on lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, Adm. Davenport notes.

Although the experiments centered on U.S. homeland defense and disaster recovery efforts, Noble Resolve 07-2 also included some initial work with the Republic of Korea to help its representatives evaluate their concept of operations for providing international assistance to other governments. This is one element of a larger focus area of the directorate called the international community comprehensive approach. Currently, the directorate has approximately a dozen partner nations in its multinational experiments series and approximately another six countries that observe the experiments. “These are countries with common interests that are working toward common objectives and have identified the need to share their experimentation and work together to improve capabilities across the board,” the admiral says.

On the U.S. side, the directorate is working on a unified action project that involves the U.S. Department of State, and it is examining U.S. government and nongovernment coordination to improve the nation’s ability to respond to international crises.

While multinational cooperation is paramount during operations both military and humanitarian, one of the largest hurdles standing in the way remains ensuring collaboration occurs smoothly. “It’s [multinational information sharing] a big problem that needs the focus, and it’s right for this kind of experimentation. Hopefully, over a series of efforts in the next few years, we can make some real gains in these areas such that the next time we have to go into a coalition operation, we don’t have the same challenges that we have today,” Adm. Davenport states.

Although the Noble Resolve experiments are important to examining technical capabilities, they are just as much about the partnerships these kinds of activities foster. The admiral admits that technologies that allow experimentation across vast geographic areas surely impress him. However, he is equally excited about the human element of operations these technologies facilitate.

“The technology provides that experimentation environment that is realistic enough for first responders or whoever is involved to go through the activities. As a result, we were able to make meaningful adjustments to the tactics, techniques, procedures and processes to improve our capabilities. But, the important outcome of this isn’t just the technology; it’s the partnerships,” Adm. Davenport emphasizes.

Responses during the Noble Resolve 07-2 after-action review were very positive, but the admiral says, “It is up to people to take the lessons that have been learned and the insights that have been gained and actually turn that into long-term improvements. One of the actions that I have assigned our folks is to follow up with all the participants to ensure that they have what they need to drive that action and that they are, in fact, following up,” Adm. Davenport maintains.

Although the admiral has his eyes on the future, he admits that one of his jobs is to ensure that the directorate achieves the right balance and meets both near-term and far-term requirements. “Obviously, one of JFCOM’s primary charters is to be the forward-looking organization for the Defense Department. We have to maintain a pretty solid look at the future, but there are also near-term challenges facing our warfighters today, and they need help. We are trying to achieve that right balance all the time here, and we’ve got quite a bit of focus in both directions,” the admiral says.

In addition to balancing work that both supports current operations and aims to improve future operations, attention must be paid equally to consequence management and consequence prevention, he adds. “For Noble Resolve in particular, the key is to continue to develop our capabilities for homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities to ensure the right kind of partnerships are developing and information sharing is being improved,” Adm. Davenport asserts.

Web Resources
Noble Resolve 2007:
Urban Resolve 2015:
Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Directorate:
U.S. Joint Forces Command:
U.S. Northern Command: