NorthComm Picks Key Terror-War Products

The selection underscores NorthCom commander Adm. Timothy Keating’s recent statements about coordinating operations with local agencies as the military takes the lead in responding to some major domestic terrorist attacks. North-Com is based at Peterson Air Force Base.

Homeland Defense Secretary Michael Chertoff since has said his agency, not the Pentagon, would be in charge, although the military would help with personnel and equipment that go beyond those of local governments.

That said, there’s no dispute that the response to domestic attack would require coordination among NorthCom, local, state and federal agencies.

In June, NorthCom hosted the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration in Colorado Springs to demonstrate ways to bridge gaps between the Pentagon and others who play a role in homeland defense.

A July 18 “after action” report recommends that three products be developed for mili- tary use. The recommendation will go to the Joint Forces Command. Funding would require congressional approval.

A portable system, called the Incident Commanders’ Radio Interface, would link military and civilian radios and phone systems despite their reliance on different frequencies.

Communications Applied-Technology of Reston, Va., a firm with fewer than 25 employees that has been making the system since before 2001, has sold a few hundred, company spokesman Joel Greenberg said.

The system was tested during the air show at Peterson Air Force Base this summer and again during the June product demonstration.

Costing $5,000 to $10,000 per unit, the laptop-size kit can be activated in five minutes, Greenberg said.

“Can you imagine the number of agencies that are going to show up regardless of who will take the lead?” he said. “All sorts of agencies with different radio equipment, and it’s going to be mass confusion unless you have commanders who can talk among themselves.”

Another finalist, the WMD Common Operational Picture, gives a view of how chemical agents would spread and allows various agencies to see what’s happening and respond efficiently.

Developed by the military’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the technology will “cultivate and enhance” NorthCom’s relationships with other agencies, the report said. It also “provides capability to visualize and understand the effects of WMD” by allowing planners “to visualize and understand the vulnerabilities of their organization and forces.”

Lastly, the Multi-level-secure Information Infrastructure, a Boeing Co. product, enables translation and sharing of information among multiple computer networks simultaneously. It would accommodate interagency sharing without requiring compatible systems.

The trials included participation from the Missouri and Kentucky National Guard, Coast Guard, Homeland Security Department and Colorado Springs Police Department.