Students and staff from the 2012 Perspectives on Homeland Security and Defense (PHSD) course moved into the second phase of the course by flying to Colorado Springs from Washington, DC on Saturday, 21 April 2012.
Following an intensive first week of lectures, panels, and group discussions in Washington, DC, the group headed to the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base to learn how the Department of Defense (DOD) manages homeland security and defense. The in-person phase of the course is intentionally designed to provide complementary portions for the participants. The first week in Washington includes a theoretical examination of many of the facets of homeland security – terrorism, trans-national criminal organizations, border and port security, critical infrastructure protection, continuity of operations, cyber security, natural disaster preparedness, and states of emergency.
In contrast, the second week examines how NORTHCOM manages the issues of homeland security. NORTHCOM’s principal mission is homeland defense. Its 1200-person staff includes representatives from all the branches of the military as well as interagency partners and foreign Liaison Officers. In fact, Lieutenant General Tom Lawson of the Royal Canadian Air Force who serves as the Deputy Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command provided the official welcome to the PHSD course. The fact that a Canadian Officer at an American military command welcomed the group was indicative of the importance of international partnerships in homeland security, an oft-repeated theme of the PHSD 2012 course.
In addition to the briefs at NORTHCOM, the remainder of the second week of the course will be devoted to practical exercises that include elements of much of the course material. The participants are divided into groups and will examine scenarios that require international coordination and decision making among the participants. On Wednesday afternoon, as part of a cultural tour, the group will visit the US Air Force Academy and dine with the Cadet Wing. Finally, the course will conclude with a graduation ceremony inside US Northern Command headquarters on Friday, 27 April.