Forty-two students from 14 different countries completed the 2012 Perspectives on Homeland Security and Defense (PHSD) course in Colorado Springs on Friday, 27 April.
The students spent the second week of the two-week course examining how US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) manages homeland security and homeland defense issues. The students heard from more than 20 international and interagency members of NORTHCOM including representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), US Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Guard, Canadian Air Force, and Mexican Army.
The students also collaborated in a series of practical exercises that permitted them to apply much of the theoretical course material into real-world scenarios. The scenarios included situations involving hurricane preparations, terrorism, martial law, and cybersecurity. Additionally, the final class project required the students to manage an international crisis in an all-day “war game” engineered by CHDS professor Dr. Evan Ellis. The simulation compelled the students to consider international and interagency aspects of the scenario as well as political, economic, military, and social aspects of the conditions of country following a major natural disaster.
Most participants considered the exercise to be a valuable compendium of many of the aspects of the course. One of the students, Brigadier General Eduardo Morales of Guatemala, called it “the most realistic and complex” simulation in which he has ever participated.
During his remarks at the farewell dinner on Thursday evening, course director Professor Pat Paterson stressed the importance of utilizing the course material when the students return to their countries. He cited examples of natural and man-made disasters that have struck Latin American countries in the past – the 1972 Managua earthquake, the 1985 volcano eruption at Nevada del Ruiz in Colombia, Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1998, the 2011 earthquake in Haiti and threats from trans-national criminal organizations like the Zetas, the FARC, and Al Qaeda – to emphasize the urgency of implementing much of what the students learned during the previous two weeks.
On Friday, April 27th, inside US Northern Command headquarters, Brigadier General Dan Hokanson, Deputy Director for Strategy, Policy and Plans for NORTHCOM, congratulated the students for their excellent work and passed out graduation certificates to each of the 42 students. CHDS Deputy Director Ken LaPlante subsequently welcomed the new graduates to the CHDS family and officially closed the 2012 PHSD course.