USNORTHCOM hosts Private Sector Conference

By Master Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson | NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | August 11, 2008

When a community is in a crisis, it takes resources from both the public and private sectors to help with the full recovery efforts.  Waiting until a crisis is the wrong time to realize vital resources are not available.

Hurricane, Tornado, flood and wild fire survivors need items, such as water, bleach to purify and disinfect, communication and technological devices, and lumber to rebuild.  

To assist with this need, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command along with FEMA’s Private Sector Office, co-hosted the first Public and Private Partnership for Disaster Response Conference in July, in an effort to develop a relationship with private sector organizations that have a role in disaster relief as well the defense and security of the Nation.

“This first conference was a ‘kick-off’ event designed to start building this community of DoD{Department of Defense}, DHS {Department of Homeland Security} and private sector disaster response practitioners and to highlight some terrific new work being done by the different organizations,” said Lt. Col. Kristine Shelstad, domestic initiative team leader for the Interagency Coordination Directorate.

After hurricane Katrina the lack of coordination between the businesses and the government bodies proved detrimental, according to Asa Hutchinson, chairman of the Corporate Crisis Response Officers Association advisory board and the former Homeland Security Department Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. 

After Katrina, the leaders of NORAD and USNORTHCOM also recognized this need to have the public and private sectors come together and began working with DHS to reach out to the business, humanitarian, faith-based and non-government organization communities, and determine each others role in planning and responding to disasters in the homeland.

“When something disastrous happens in America – it’s in all of our interests to know each other before-hand so that we can work better together,” Shelstad said.

Now, with this ongoing initiative, they are developing relationships that will be mutually beneficial currently and in the future.  There are three people on the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Private Sector team working within the Interagency Coordination Directorate to make this happen.

Their role is to determine ways in which NORAD and USNORTHCOM, in partnership with DHS, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Office of the Secretary of Defense, can work with the private sector to accomplish mutual defense, security and response missions, she said.

When a crisis occurs, the Interagency Coordination Directorate stands up this team and they are charged with understanding the private sector’s response and how both the DoD and the private sector can mutually support each other.

“We want to be part of a community of practice that promotes a ‘whole of society’ approach to disaster planning and response,” said Shelstad.

U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests.