Last week’s highly successful Mid-Atlantic All Hazards Forum at the Baltimore Convention Center was a gathering of some of the brightest minds in the nation’s first-responder, homeland-security, law-enforcement, and counterterrorism communities. It was also, in all probability, the harbinger of many such events in the future – larger, though, more heavily attended, and even broader in scope – in all areas and regions of the country. The announced theme of the Baltimore Forum, “Regional Readiness in a Post-Katrina World,” reflected the fact that the distinguished list of speakers represented a broad and multitalented spectrum of high-level state, local, and federal decision makers from the seven contiguous states in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia. Academia, non-government organizations, and private-sector businesses and professional associations also were well represented, both as participants in the numerous panel discussions and in the highly attentive audiences. The Opening Plenary Session, which set the ambitious tone for the three-day conclave, featured a Homeland Security Directors Roundtable composed of senior preparedness officials from all of the states participating. Fourteen additional working events – plus two luncheons and two receptions – were included on the tightly packed but well organized and extremely diversified schedule. Peers and Colleagues, But No Strangers The key word here is “diversified.” Police chiefs were comparing notes with other police chiefs, of course. And college professors and department heads were renewing acquaintances with their own peers and professional colleagues. More important by far, though, is the fact that all attendees, whatever their professional field, were talking to, mixing with, and learning from (and about) one another.
The friendly, knowledgeable, and highly articulate mix of views that characterized all of the forum’s 18 scheduled events seems to have been built into the program from the start. The three members of the 12 October “Maritime Domain Awareness” Panel, to cite but one example, were a senior police officer (Colonel Steve Chaney of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources), a Coast Guard officer (Captain Brian Kelley, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Baltimore), and a business executive (Joe Anderson, a project manager for the Computer Sciences Corporation). What is happening, obviously, is that the nation’s former and sometimes uncomfortable mix of separate highly specialized domestic-preparedness communities (plural) is evolving, slowly but surely, into a larger, more homogeneous, and much more effective as well as productive national domestic-preparedness community (singular). This does not mean that the expert knowledge, training, and experience resident in the individual professional communities are now less important than in the past. Just the opposite, in fact. In the global war on terrorism all of that accumulated experience and collective wisdom is still urgently needed – both now and for the foreseeable future.
The Dawn of a New Age But a new age is dawning – has already dawned, in fact – in which the synergistic capabilities of many disciplines, numerous sciences, and a rapidly growing array of technologically sophisticated systems and equipment all will be needed to defeat the common enemy of international terrorism. The nation’s armed services provide excellent working examples of the next stages in the evolution of the U.S. domestic-preparedness community. West Point graduates go into Army aviation, or the artillery, the infantry, or start on any of several other career paths. But they remain Army officers first and foremost. In the U.S. Marine Corps, every Marine is first of all a rifleman. Individual military occupational specialties run a distant second. Aboard the Navy’s submarines, all officers and all enlisted personnel, no matter what their assigned specialties, are expected to be able to carry out a broad spectrum of duties, large and small, important and – well, aboard submarines, there is no task, no duty, no chore that is trivial or unimportant. Meanwhile, the multimission Coast Guard outdoes all of its sister services by “specializing” in a varied and difficult mix of duties ranging from search-and-rescue missions to the interdiction of illegal drugs (and illegal migrants) to protecting the maritime environment to port security to icebreaking to training allied coast guards and a myriad of other missions. America’s domestic-preparedness professionals, no matter what their previous background, experience, training, and/or designated specialty, should adopt the same patriotic attitude of dedication, service to the country and the community, and personal sacrifice displayed by the fine young men and women of the nation’s armed services (the Guard and Reserve components as well). When the protection of the U.S. homeland is at stake, the end result achieved will always be much greater than the collective sum of the individual parts involved.
Martin D. Masiuk
Martin (Marty) Masiuk is president and founder of International Media Representatives Inc. (IMR Group Inc.), which was established in 1986 as an American-based media representation firm for overseas, aerospace, and defense publications. In 1998, under the IMR Group, he established DomesticPreparedness.com, which has evolved into a highly trusted, and important information service for the multi-disclipline, multi-jurisdiction preparedness community. In 2014, he transitioned the DomPrep40 into the Preparedness Leadership Council to lessen the burden on and increase the effectiveness of operational preparedness professionals and help policy professionals make better-informed decisions. Prior to IMR Group, he served as an account representative for McGraw Hill’s Business Week and Aviation Week & Space Technology publications.