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03 30 2014

NCI Agency support to the preparation of the NSS 2014

On 24 and 25 March 2014 the Netherlands hosted the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 (NSS 2014). In order to prepare the various Command and Control (C2) staffs for their specific tasks during the NSS 2014, the Dutch National Police cooperated with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency. In order to assess and improve various C2 processes, a training and exercise programme was put together.

The summit brought together the leaders from over 50 countries to discuss important nuclear security issues and international agreements. During NSS 2014, the undisturbed transportation and protection of the delegations was prepared and provided by the Dutch National police. Although the summit was held in the Hague, the presence of so many high ranking representatives from around the globe had a wider impact on the Netherlands, making this in turn the largest security operation ever held in the Netherlands and coordinated by the Dutch Police. Command and Control of the security operation was a combined effort of the Civil police (KNP) and the Military police (KMAR) under the supervision of the Ministry of Security and Justice (V&J).

During the NSS 2014 the police used 10 command and control rooms (some co-located) to direct this operation. All C2 staffs (Staf Grootschalig Bijzonder Optreden) at the various locations had to work as one team to provide a seamless execution of the summit's schedule and to provide protection for the Heads of Delegations.

Training and Exercise programme

In order to prepare the various C2 staffs for their specific duties during the NSS2014, the NCI Agency's Education and Training Service Line provided training software and exercise expertise to schedule, plan and prepare a total of seven training events. During 2013, two one-day table top exercises were conducted to train the staff on Roles and Responsibilities, as well as a one-day 'script driven' exercise to verify incident control measures and information flow procedures. Furthermore, from 4 to 6 February 2014, a 48 hours mission rehearsal exercise was conducted to validate all the C2 measures.

Mr JGJ Tuinder EMPM, Police Commissioner, and coordinator for National Operations and advisor to the National Police, said: "The preparation through the use of the NATO Joint Exercise Management Module (JEMM) enabled a very easy way to administer the exercises. We could conduct testing at multiple locations simultaneously. Above all, I think most importantly this project has changed our approach and way of thinking. Instead from learning by doing, we set ourselves learning objectives, the Agency supported the creation of assignments, and subsequently we executed the scenarios during the seven training events in preparation for the NSS."

NCI Agency support to the preparation of the NSS 2014

More than 120 storylines

The NCI Agency provided a full range of training and exercise expertise to schedule the seven events and to define the exercise and training objectives for each of the events. The NCI Agency team led by Mr Tom Koolen directed the script development for all events. In total more than 120 storylines were developed over a period of less than four months. The NATO JEMM was used to store, manage and execute the exercise script.

Mr Tuinder explained, "It is not so much about creating a scenario in which everything goes wrong, rather the exercises allowed us to optimize our processes and procedures during normally expected events. For example traffic jams or small incidents are something we cope with every day. For an event such as the NSS2014 it was important , for instance, to optimize the flow of communication between various parties. That enabled coherent communication with a strategic angle because procedures are not self-evident. These need to be set-up and properly executed. It is during our exercises that gaps in this respect came to the surface since we have been able to do focussed testing in this regard."

During the mission rehearsal exercise, conducted from 4 to 6 February 2014, Exercise Control (EXCON) was organized at the police academy in Ossendrecht. A continuous coverage of 48 hours was provided by 90 people divided over 15 response cells. The NCI Agency team provided 48 hours continuous EXCON management and control, to a training audience located at 11 different locations, where observers provided the eyes and ears for the Exercise Control organization. The training audience was staffed to the same levels as those anticipated for the actual NSS 2014 period.

Mr Koolen stated that it has been highly rewarding to work with the National Police. "We noticed a very flexible and eager attitude in the training audience, and a drive for improvement. The safe testing environment stimulated a judgement free atmosphere; both the participating police staff and ourselves had a very positive experience. We found it interesting to experience the difference between the police culture, which is more civilian in nature, versus the inherently military NATO work environment."

This successful mission rehearsal exercise provided the training audience with a wide variety of conceptual and practical points to improve. Mr Tuinder elaborated, "During the testing all participants at all levels were able to identify weak spots in communication flows at all C2 level. Also, it led to a more profound realization that could change our very ad-hoc pragmatic mind-set to one with a more comprehensive long-term learning focus. The main gain is in thinking through the training and goals step-by-step in anticipation of an exercise. The exercise itself is then the test of this from which we identify the lessons, and we are glad the Agency contributed to that," Mr Tuinder concluded.

The NCI Agency thanks the National Police for their time and willingness to contribute to this article.