Guard takes part in security exercise

The Army National Guard took part last month in a homeland security exercise, providing its intranet, known as GuardNet, to allow public safety agencies and National Guard personnel to coordinate their response to simulated terrorists acts in cities nationwide.

GuardNet served as the backbone for the Domestic Emergency Response Information Service, an information portal for federal, state and local personnel responding to emergencies. The service is designed to link first responders to existing information resources and networks.

As part of the exercise, held March 12, Army National Guard personnel in California and Virginia accessed the network using Lan2Go, wireless local-area network technology from Xtria, said Hank Kaylor, a contractor with SNVC who is serving as the program manager for homeland security information technology for the National Guard Bureau.

Kaylor, who held a similar position with the Guard before retiring in October, said the scenario allowed the responders to "come as you are" with various technologies, from handheld devices to laptops, and still be able to share information with one other and to access their base resources.

"The goal is to eliminate communication as the hardship," Kaylor said. "Bring what you have and integrate it in, whether it's a radio, phone or laptop ...they can all get together."

The exercise featured a series of simulated incidents, beginning with the explosion of a rail car containing chlorine gas in Chicago, followed by a lead on a "specific and credible threat" that further attacks would occur along the California coast. Eventually, law enforcement and emergency response communities were activated on the West Coast, resulting in the arrest of terrorists en route by boat to blow up the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.

Robert Gac, Xtria's executive vice president of government services, said the company contributed its system to the homeland security exercise free of charge to show that data could be collected from handheld devices and transmitted wirelessly to the Internet.

The Lan2Go system was part of a larger exercise that included law enforcement and emergency management teams in Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles, along with the California National Guard and Navy Region Southwest.

Kaylor said his team was focused on using GuardNet as a part of the homeland security efforts supporting the emergency response service team. The biggest obstacle was working through the firewalls and intrusion-detection systems of the various agencies, which took two to three hours in some cases, but that time should decrease as collaboration and cooperation increase in the future.

"The difference between five minutes and a half-hour is the difference between mission success and mission failure," Kaylor said.Related Links:

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