Dec 6, 2013 1:31 PM by Brian White
NOGALES - Local U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel, along with their Mexican,
Tohono O'odham tribal and Arizona law enforcement counterparts participated in a full-scale, bi-national exercise yesterday involving multiple challenges of international significance.
Participants were required to make difficult decisions while carrying out essential functions and maintaining a common operating picture - law enforcement lingo for "cross-organizational communication."
While the exercise served many purposes, the main areas of focus involved all federal, state and local law enforcement responding capabilities, mass rescue operations, potential casualty capabilities, survivor accountability and public information outreach.
"Not only did this exercise involve dozens of partner agencies, it also extended across borders. This is particularly important in the southwest region where cross-border events occur on a daily basis," said Martin Vaughan, acting commander of Arizona's Joint Field Command in Tucson.
"This was one of the largest full-scale exercise ever conducted along the shared U.S. and Mexican border," said Vaughan. "Lessons learned yesterday will enable us to improve close-working relationships between our international, federal, state, local and industry partners. We clearly recognize this unique port shares jurisdiction with Mexico over an international commercial gateway and is critical to the economic well-being and security of Arizona."
The purpose of conducting a full-scale exercise is to emphasize the role and responsibilities of the Policy Group: leaders at the Nogales POE, and the Nogales, Sonora city, state and federal Mexican law enforcement agencies, as they relate to an incident command structure, as well as internal and external agency communications.
The National Planning Scenarios and establishment of the National Preparedness Priorities have steered the focus of homeland security toward a capabilities-based planning approach.
Capabilities-based planning focuses on planning under uncertainty because the next danger or disaster can never be forecast with complete accuracy.
Therefore, capabilities-based planning takes an all-hazards approach to planning and preparation that builds capabilities that can be applied to a wide variety of incidents.
States and urban areas use capabilities-based planning to identify a baseline assessment of their homeland security efforts by comparing their current capabilities against the Target Capabilities List and the critical tasks of the Universal Task List.
This approach identifies gaps in current capabilities and focuses efforts on identifying and developing priority capabilities and tasks for the jurisdiction. These priority capabilities are articulated in the jurisdiction's homeland security strategy and Multiyear Training and Exercise Plan, of which this exercise is a component.