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Committed to Secuity: California's 2010 Golden Guardian exercises focus on Seaport Terrorism
By Mark Withrow
Golden Guardian 2010

With annual full-scale exercises since 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger makes homeland security a top priority

The seaport terrorism-themed drill, held May 17–19, 2010, is the sixth statewide full-scale exercise (FSE) in the governor’s annual Golden Guardian series. Events occurred throughout all three of California’s regional areas: Coastal, Inland, and Southern. With over 3,000 local, regional, state, and federal responders, as well as state agency and private industry participants, Golden Guardian continues to be the largest statewide disaster preparedness drill in the nation. “Governor Schwarzenegger has made public safety a top priority,” said Matthew Bettenhausen, secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA). “Training and exercises like this assures all levels of government and different public safety disciplines can work together to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and quickly recover from intentional and natural disasters. These drills are essential to California’s overall prevention, response, and recovery capabilities.” Governor Schwarzenegger began the Golden Guardian Statewide Exercise Series in 2004. It has become an annual event to coordinate prevention, preparation, response, and recovery mechanisms of city, county, and state governmental entities, as well as private sector and volunteer organizations. The goal of the exercise series is to build upon lessons learned from these and subsequent exercises conducted throughout the nation, as well as real-world scenarios, and improve the coordination of first responders in order to deter, prevent, prepare for, respond, recover, and minimize the effects of an intentional or catastrophic natural disaster. ABCHS members Roger Rickman (CHS-V) and Mark Withrow (CHS-V) accepted an invitation from the Governor’s Office, Cal EMA, to attend this year’s event at the Redwood City and Sacramento locations.

Golden Guardian 2010 included the following scenarios:

Day 1

Coastal Region: Port of Redwood City, San Mateo County; Port of Oakland in Alameda County Multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) cause structural collapse within a Cemex facility at the port. As first responders initiate rescue efforts, a secondary device traps several victims, activating triage, search and rescue, and decontamination procedures led by the 95th Civil Support Team (CST) and other critical emergency activities. A docked ship at an alternate pier releases an unknown hazardous material, activating HazMat and CST to respond, assist in the investigation, determine the cause, mitigate the release, and provide treatment to those affected. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) opens in response to these events.

At the American Presidents Line pier at the Port of Oakland, a small boat goes undetected, attacking a container ship. The resulting explosion causes an onboard fire and hazardous materials release. A large plume of smoke drifts into the city of Oakland and forces an evacuation. A second ship entering the Oakland port channel strikes an underwater IED and loses its steering ability. The ship runs aground, blocking the entrance to the harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard elevates Marine Security (MARSEC) to level 3, shutting down the Bay Area to all marine traffic. Suspicious divers are reportedly seen near the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) underwater tunnel. A package is discovered submerged in a cove and local city and county agencies coordinate search efforts with the U.S. Navy SPAWAR marine mammals to locate the divers. A gasoline tanker near the Port of Oakland explodes and burns, causing structural damage to a freeway overpass and forcing long-term closure of a freeway hub. A second gasoline tanker, displaying an explosive placard, is discovered abandoned near the city of Benicia, causing the California Highway Patrol to initiate a 24-hour shutdown of an additional freeway. A simulated pipe failure at the Valero Oil Refinery releases thousands of gallons of gasoline and prompts the evacuation of the refinery and a nearby bridge closure. The Coastal Regional Emergency Operations Center (CREOC) and the State Operations Center (SOC) are activated in response to these events. The governor proclaims a state of emergency, and the California National Guard is called to secure key points of critical infrastructure in the Bay Area.

Southern Region: Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles County A security breach occurs at the Tesoro Oil Refinery at the Port of Los Angeles. A second breach of a shipping terminal at the Port of Long Beach involves an active shooter incident on a suspicious vessel. An underwater IED detonates and causes the rupture of a below-water fuel line at the Port of San Diego. During a World Cup soccer match at the California State University, San Marcos, multiple shooters detonate a dirty bomb in the parking lot of the campus and take hostages at a dormitory, activating a SWAT and local police agency response.

Day 2

Inland Region: Port of West Sacramento, Sacramento County Terrorists attack a vessel docked at the port. Multiple explosions cause an onboard fire, prompting the response of an Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team, local bomb squad, and the engagement of a Crisis/Hostage Negotiation team. Local SWAT teams conduct hostage rescue and protect first responders who perform mutual aid, incident command, and firefighting operations.

Coastal Region: City of Richmond, Alameda County A group of terrorists is responsible for the derailment of a train, causing a tank car to leak. The leaking hazardous material develops into a smoke plume, resulting in evacuations and shelter-in-place activities in several Richmond neighborhoods. The Coastal REOC remains activated. Situational reports from all previous night operations are received at the Coastal REOC and sent to the SOC. Proclamation of a State of Emergency is still in effect. MARSEC Level 3 is still in effect.

Southern Region: Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles County At the shoreline park, active shooters assault a commuter vessel and take hostages. The terrorists leave behind an unexploded chemical bomb in the park. This threat activates a SWAT and law enforcement response along with the U.S. Coast Guard. An escape attempt in a rogue ship prompts a pursuit by marine and air assets in an attempt to apprehend those involved.

Day 3

The Sacramento Regional Terrorist Threat Assessment Center (RTTAC) and the State Terrorist Threat Assessment Center (STTAC) exercise information sharing and dissemination of the events at the Port of West Sacramento. A Bay Area Maritime Security recovery tabletop exercise takes place in Oakland. A Port of Long Beach Marine Transportation System/Recovery Unit tabletop exercise takes place in Long Beach. Writers’ acknowledgements: Considering how many thousands of attempts have been made over the past several years, readers around the world should understand that California has not sustained even a minor terrorist attack. This record speaks volumes for Governor Schwarzenegger and Cal EMA’s management of NIMS/SEMS education, exercise, and proper vision concerning the safety of Californians. In a state that has a greater area, economy, and population that most nations, California stands prepared to face future threats, including not only terrorism but also earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters. We salute and extend our thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger for actually doing the impossible-—protecting his people and state (especially when that state happens to be California). ABCHS is continuing the process of implementing the National Emergency Management Teams (NEMT) across America, the priority function of which is to minimize the loss of life and property while containing the incident and assisting our first responders, providing whatever they most need at any given incident.

Special note of thanks:

The American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS) wishes to express its thanks to Jay Alan, Cal EMA Public Information Officer, for his assistance in facilitating this year’s FSE, and to the staff of Denevi Digital Imaging for allowing CHS access to their photo files.

Governor’s initiatives for homeland security

Governor Schwarzenegger’s actions have greatly enhanced California’s capability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and quickly recover from intentional and natural disasters. These actions include: Signed AB 38, which merged the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and the Office of Emergency Services (OES) into a new cabinet-level California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), streamlining the responsibility of overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and homeland security activities throughout the state Improved the state’s ability to quickly receive aid from other states by securing the passage of legislation allowing California to join the nationwide Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Secured $1 billion in bond funds to protect California’s mass transit systems and create a world-class emergency water transit system in the Bay Area Secured $214 million for public health emergency response, which includes $78.2 million for medical supplies and equipment and $53.4 million for 3.7 million courses of antiviral medications Secured more than $2.1 billion in federal funds for homeland security and public health Invested over $200 million to enhance interoperable communications the state. Funded statewide capability for Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) Established the California Maritime Security Council to enhance security measures throughout the state’s seaports Developed eight memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the private sector that officially make them key partners in the state’s disaster response network Invested in 19 new fire suppression engines to improve statewide fire preparedness Invested more than $1.8 million in homeland security funds to increase the number of accredited swift water rescue teams in California from 10 to 13 and to upgrade vehicles and equipment belonging to the existing 10 teams Source: Congressional Quarterly

By the numbers: California homeland security

Investments for security in urban areas

Homeland security investments since 2004 in these four California Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) regions participating in Golden Guardian include:
Los Angeles/Long Beach Area, $361 million
San Francisco Bay Area, $183 million
San Diego, $97 million
Sacramento, $37 million

Grant funding for port security

Port security, the focus of Golden Guardian 2010, has been enhanced by the Schwarzenegger administration by the addition of these funds from the Port Security Grant Program, including:
Los Angeles/Long Beach, $221.2 million
San Francisco, $90.4 million
San Diego, $24.4 million
Oakland, $20.6 million
Sacramento, $1.1 million
Redwood City, $1.1 million
Source: Congressional Quarterly

A comprehensive report on how homeland security funds have been invested by state and local agencies to keep California safe may be found at www.calema.ca.gov.

Funding for local agencies

California has received and invested more than $2 billion in federal homeland security grants to improve the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities of state and local public safety agencies. These investments, in full partnership with local agencies, support the priorities of California’s homeland security strategy, which are: Strengthen communications capabilities Information sharing, collaboration capabilities, and law enforcement investigations Strengthen medical and public health preparedness Enhance protection of critical infrastructure and key resources Citizen preparedness and participation Enhance agriculture, food systems, and animal health preparedness Enhance catastrophic incident planning, response, and recovery Homeland security exercise, evaluation and training programs


Mark Withrow, NEMT Western Regional Coordinator for FEMA Region IX, is a qualified FEMA Professional Development course instructor, is P.O.S.T. certified in Search and Rescue (SAR), and is a Certified Training Officer (CTO) for the State of California. Since his involvement with the Golden Guardian Full-Scale Exercises, he remains passionate in his efforts to promote the CHS program to key officials within the Governor’s Office, Cal Emergency Management Agency, and attends scheduled meetings in Sacramento to discuss ways that the organization can best benefit first responders. Currently with the U.S. Department of State at the Federal building in San Francisco, he can be reached at: strikeforce574@aol.com.

Roger E. Rickman, PhD, ThD, and one of the first 10 Life Members to join the CHS program, sits on three Executive Boards as Fellow: the ABCHS (Certified Master Chaplain), AAIM, and the Editorial Advisory Board of the Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association. As the Western Director of the NEMT for FEMA Regions VI, VIII, IX, & X, his never-ending energy welcomes the challenge placed before him to strategize how the governors of 21 states may work together to include NEMT in their emergency response repertoire. Rickman is founder and senior pastor of the National Assembly of Fresh Anointing Faith International (FAFI) Christian Churches, and chaplain for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars for the city of Tracy, California. He can be reached at: roger@rickmancpa.com.

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