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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The National Guard Bureau Homeland Security Institute, in cooperation with Harvard University's JFK School of Government, recently hosted the fifth annual General and Flag Officer Homeland Security Executive Seminar, here, April 7-10, 2015.
Approximately 50 professionals throughout the USA and Canada from different branches of military service holding the rank of colonel to general attended the course. Professionals from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Massachusetts State Police and the Defense Department also attended the course.
One of the students this year was Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief, National Guard Bureau. Grass welcomed the students and stated: “It is important for all senior leaders to attend this class regardless of their discipline. This course specifically focuses on large scale catastrophic events which you can learn from and think about when you return home.”
The seminar is designed to provide a broad understanding of federal and state emergencies, crisis decision making and multi-agency collaboration.
Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general, Massachusetts National Guard opened the seminar with a warm Boston welcome. He mentioned the critical role the Guard had in defense support to civil authorities during the January 2015 Blizzard also known as Winter Storm Juno.
The seminar provided senior leaders with a common operating picture of the resources and capabilities required to effectively respond to the challenges of a landscape-scale catastrophic event. It emphasized the critical role that the National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard provide during essential response to complex multi-jurisdiction events.
The course began with topics of crisis management and responding to federal and state emergencies.
"This seminar served as a wonderful opportunity to learn not just from the faculty and presenters but also from the participants,” said Army Brig. Gen. Timothy Williams, the adjutant general of the Virginia National Guard. There aren't many times when you have that level of experience and talent assembled! A great event!”
“This exceptional educational opportunity has built on our principle foundations of crisis leadership by ensuring we are adequately prepared to successfully respond to various challenges during crisis,” said Lt. Col. Sharon Costine, Massachusetts State Police Commanding Officer for the Division of Standing and Training. “We have a great responsibility to meet these challenges as expected by members of our communities"
The course continued with main topics of decentralized multi-organizational response, building capacity for multi-agency collaboration, political and operational interface and working with the private sector during emergencies.
“The Harvard Kennedy School, Homeland Executive Seminar is one of the most valuable executive level courses I have had the privilege to attend in my career,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Berry, the adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard. The open dialogue with subject matter experts, who have dealt with major tragedies in our nation’s past, will better prepare me to handle crisis situations that I might be confronted with in my own state.”
The course concluded with a forum moderated by Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Lecturer and featuring the following keynote speakers: Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukonft, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Dubie, deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command.
"This course was a tremendous opportunity to more deeply understand, analyze and discuss the lessons learned with a talented group of Homeland Security professionals,” said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, adjutant general, Iowa National Guard. I felt the real value of this course was through the interaction and daily exchange of thoughts between the class participants."
After the forum, the class convened at the Harvard Loeb House for a dinner banquet and certificate presentation.
Prof. Herman “Dutch” Leonard provided opening remarks to the audience. Leonard thanked the Massachusetts National Guard for being the host of the event and introduced Rice to make some remarks about the program.
Rice introduced Grass and stated it was an honor to introduce the chief of the National Guard Bureau as a guest speaker. Grass and Rice awarded the students with graduation certificates.
The course was deemed a great success by the students as it provided a common management framework which can be used as part of strategic decision-making processes within the agencies that protect our nation in times of crisis.
Command Sergeant Major
Carlos Ramos Rivera
State Command Sergeant Major