A Haiti Disaster Relief Scenario Was Envisaged by the US Military One Day Before the Earthquake

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A Haiti disaster
relief scenario had been envisaged at the headquarters of US Southern
Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami one day prior to the earthquake.

The holding
of pre-disaster simulations pertained to the impacts of a hurricane
in Haiti. They were held on January 11. (Bob Brewin, Defense
launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts
– GovExec.com.

The Defense
Information Systems Agency (DISA), which is under the jurisdiction
of the Department of Defense (DoD), was involved in organizing these
scenarios on behalf of US Southern Command.(SOUTHCOM).

Defined as
a "Combat Support Agency", DISA has a mandate to provide
IT and telecommunications, systems, logistics services in support
of the US military. (See DISA website: Defense
Information Systems Agency

On the day
prior to the earthquake, "on Monday [January 11, 2010], Jean
Demay, DISA’s technical manager for the agency’s Transnational Information
Sharing Cooperation project, happened to be at the headquarters
of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami preparing for a test of the
system in a scenario that involved providing relief to Haiti in
the wake of a hurricane
." (Bob Brewin, op cit, emphasis

The Transnational
Information Sharing Cooperation project (TISC) is a communications-information
tool which "links non-government organizations with the United
States [government and military] and other nations for tracking,
coordinating and organizing relief efforts".(Government IT
Scrambles To Help Haiti, TECHWEB January 15, 2010).

The TISC is
an essential component of the militarization of emergency relief.
The US military through DISA oversees the information – communications
system used by participating aid agencies. Essentially, it is a
communications sharing system controlled by the US military, which
is made available to approved non-governmental partner organizations.
The Defense Information Systems Agency also "provides bandwidth
to aid organizations involved in Haiti relief efforts."

There are no
details on the nature of the tests conducted on January 11 at SOUTHCOM

DISA’s Jean
Demay was in charge of coordinating the tests. There are no reports
on the participants involved in the disaster relief scenarios.

One would expect,
given DISA’s mandate, that the tests pertained to simulating communications.
logistics and information systems in the case of a major emergency
relief program in Haiti.

The fundamental
concept underlying DISA’s Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation
project (TISC) is to "Achieve Interoperability With Warfighters,
Coalition Partners And NGOs" (Defense Daily, December 19, 2008)

Upon completing
the tests and disaster scenarios on January 11, TISC was considered
to be, in relation to Haiti, in "an advanced stage of readiness".
On January 13, the day following the earthquake, SOUTHCOM took the
decision to implement the TISC system, which had been rehearsed
in Miami two days earlier:

the earthquake hit on Tuesday [January 12, 2010], Demay said SOUTHCOM
decided to go live with the system. On [the following day] Wednesday
[January 13, 2010], DISA opened up its All
Partners Access Network
, supported by the Transnational Information
Sharing Cooperation project, to any organization supporting Haiti
relief efforts.

The information
sharing project, developed with backing from both SOUTHCOM and
the Defense Department’s European Command, has been in development
for three years. It is designed to facilitate multilateral
collaboration between federal and nongovernmental agencies.

Demay said
that since DISA set up a Haiti Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster
Relief Community of Interest on APAN on Wednesday [the day following
the earthquake], almost 500 organizations and individuals have
joined, including a range of Defense units and various nongovernmental
organizations and relief groups
. (Bob Brewin, Defense
launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts

(1/15/10) – GovExec.com emphasis added).

has a Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Field Office
in Miami. Under
the Haiti Disaster Emergency Program initiated on January 12, DISA’s
mandate is described as part of a carefully planned military operation:

is providing US Southern Command with information capabilities
which will support our nation in quickly responding to the critical
situation in Haiti,"
said Larry K. Huffman, DISA’s Principal
Director of Global Information Grid Operations. "Our experience
in providing support to contingency operations around the world
postures us to be responsive in meeting USSOUTHCOM’s requirements."

Combat Support Agency, engineers and [sic] provides command and
control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously
operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct
support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other
mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations.
As DoD’s satellite communications leader, DISA is using the Defense
Satellite Communications System to provide frequency and bandwidth
support to all organizations in the Haitian relief effort
This includes Super High Frequency missions that are providing
bandwidth for US Navy ships and one Marine Expeditionary Unit
that will arrive shortly on station to provide medical help, security,
and helicopters among other support. This also includes all satellite
communications for the US Air Force handling round-the-clock air
traffic control and air freight operations at the extremely busy
Port-Au-Prince Airport. DISA is also providing military Ultra
High Frequency channels and contracting for additional commercial
SATCOM missions that greatly increase this capability for relief
efforts. (DISA
~ Press Release
, January 2010, undated, emphasis added)

In the immediate
wake of the earthquake, DISA played a key supportive role to SOUTHCOM,
which was designated by the Obama administration as the de facto
"lead agency" in the US Haitian relief program. The underlying
system consists in integrating civilian aid agencies into the orbit
of an advanced communications information system controlled by the
US military.

is also leveraging a new technology in Haiti that is already linking
NGOs, other nations and US forces together to track, coordinate
and better organize relief efforts" (Ibid)

This article
originally appeared on GlobalResearch.ca.

23, 2010

Michel Chossudovsky
is the publisher of GlobalResearch.ca.

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