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News > Technology enables more effective homeland defense
Technology enables more effective homeland defense

Posted 3/5/2013   Updated 3/5/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Mary McHale
AFNORTH Public Affairs


3/5/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When a threat to North America occurs, there is a wide variety of federal and state government agencies that will need to respond.

Along with response, rapid, effective communication between these agencies will be critical to successful homeland defense. To answer this critical need, the Command and Control Gap Filler Joint Capabilities Technologies Demonstration (C2GF JCTD) was introduced. Originally an initiative of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, its primary goal is to decrease the timeline to get critical operational capabilities to the warfighter. In the Air Forces Northern enterprise, officials from the Strategic Programs and Requirements directorate are working on it.

One incident that reinforced this need was a real-world incident known as Thunder Bay, 2009. During this incident, a pilot stole a Cessna 172 from an Ontario flight school and flew to a rural Missouri road where he landed and was subsequently captured by FBI agents.

"The conclusion of the 2009 Thunder Bay matter reinforced the need for different agencies to create the ability to rapidly communicate information from disparate sensors," said Lt. Col. Karen Sanders, Chief, C2GF JCTD Strategic Communications.
In this case, agencies involved included U.S. and Canadian North American Air Defense teams; the Federal Aviation Administration; the Department of Homeland Security; the FBI; Customs and Border Protection; Air and Marine Operations Center and numerous law enforcement agencies.

According to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, "The experiences of the past several years have deepened the realization that state and non-state adversaries alike may seek to attack military and civilian targets within the United States. Protecting the nation and its people from such threats requires close synchronization between civilian and military efforts. Although many efforts to protect the United States are led by other federal agencies to include the Department of Homeland Security, the role of the Department of Defense in defending the nation against direct attack and in providing support to civil authorities, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event, has steadily gained prominence."

With goals of improved surveillance coverage through sensor netting and improved command and control through information sharing, C2GF JCTD is a constantly evolving concept that leverages current technologies to the fullest extent possible. For example, according to the C2GF JCTD communication plan, sensor netting is a "new operational concept that combines disparate sensors from existing systems of record and emerging detection system to create a complete Wide Area Air Surveillance Air Situation Display."

"Leveraging current technologies provides combatant commanders, other services and inter-agencies an affordable means to fuse disparate sensors in legacy C2 systems," said Sanders. "C2GF JCTD will not replace, but will improve and enhance existing programs and system of records."

Sanders went on to explain that developing the effects of pursuing C2GF JCTD will include enhanced capabilities such as increased surveillance area and improved detection and tracking techniques.

In fact, in 2012, the C2GF team reenacted the Thunder Bay 2009 incident using a Royal Canadian Mounted Police light aircraft following a similar flight path and included participants from both the United States and Canada.

"It gave participants the opportunity to highlight C2GF JCTD technologies that contribute to Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational information sharing," Sanders said. "Information that generally was not available to some participants was provided in an automated fashion and was enhanced with amplifying data without use of voice contact. This first step means more information in a manner that is faster, more accurate and provides leaders with a common picture of the event."



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