This speech was given by Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Eastman at the Lexington Institute’s Capitol Hill forum on the National Guard’s Role in Cybersecurity for the U.S. Power Grid on June 21, 2016. Lieutenant Colonel Eastman is the Deputy Director, Domestic Operations, of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Click here to watch a video of Lieutenant Colonel Gerald J. Eastman’s speech.
Good afternoon, my name is LTC Jerry Eastman. I’ve served the past 18 months, as Deputy Director of Domestic Operations, in the Wisconsin National Guard.
Thank you for the opportunity to present a short brief on an exciting partnership between the Utility companies, the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management.
In February 2015, the Wisconsin National Guard reached out to the major electrical utilities in the state. The very next month, during the Governor’s Emergency Management conference, Major General Donald P. Dunbar, our Adjutant General, spoke to the importance of the electrical grid and cyber security. This was our beginning point and solidified establishing the partnership. Those utilities present and I met, formed a basic concept and forged ahead.
Over the past 15 months, the five major electrical utilities in Wisconsin have readily engaged in our partnership. To date, the team has met eleven times and each utility has hosted meetings at their respective headquarters. On a regular basis executives attend the meetings, providing guidance and support to the team.
Early on, the team realized establishing a vision, mission and endstate was a key component to the partnership.
Simply put, our vision is a public/private partnership to ensure sustainable delivery of electricity.
Our mission is: the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and Utilities partnership team, plans and coordinates, effective disaster response and recovery efforts, in support of local governments and citizens. We prepare ourselves to minimize the loss of lives and property, through information sharing, planning, training and exercising.
Thus our endstate is: the electrical grid’s resiliency is enhanced.
So how do we meet our desired endstate? The team has identified four lines of effort. These efforts focus the group on areas and gaps where the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin emergency management and other stakeholders can leverage their resources to enhance the grid, ultimately supporting the citizens of Wisconsin.
The lines of effort are: cyber security, communications, logistics/transportation and exercises.
Within the cyber security effort, several opportunities have arisen to collaborate on capabilities and share information. A goal of this committee is mapping out systems, channels and methods to exchange cyber information. A recent success is participation of four cyber professionals from a utility in the cyber shield who took an active role in an exercise held at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, a few months ago.
The second line of effort falls within communications: the experts within this team are focused on enhancing and maintaining communication during response and recovery during and after a disaster. As there are areas in Wisconsin where cell phones simply do not work, they are looking at ways to utilize high and ultra-high frequency radios in the event cell phone service is not available. One option is using the Wisconsin integrated communication system, which allows interoperable radio communication across the entire state. Additionally, a utility is working to connect a dedicated fiber optic line to our state emergency operations center, thus ensuring communications.
Logistics and transportation is our third line of effort. This team is working on those challenges which can affect the industry. Currently under consideration are heavy transport permits, logistical resupply, personnel and equipment staging and tracking. The team continues to explore opportunities to increase efficiency prior to and during an event.
For example: tracking of response teams during a disaster is difficult at best for the utilities, as potentially hundreds of personnel and pieces of equipment enter the incident area. The Wisconsin Credentialing and Asset Management Software (WI-CAMS) provides incident commanders visibility about who and what is in their area of responsibility. At the staging area, a responder scans their WI-CAMS ID card, capturing credentials and capabilities into the event database. A utility can see via the software, their responder’s arrival and departure from the incident site, thus facilitating more effective use of scarce resources. Our utilities are beginning the credentialing process.
Finally, exercising and testing our plans is the fourth line of effort. We are continually identifying and coordinating our exercise plans. Recently the wing was invited to embed liaison officers (LNOs) into two utility response teams during GRIDEX 3. A team was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Madison and Pewaukee, Wisconsin. These LNOs provided real time information across state and utility borders. Liaison officers at one utility command post in Wisconsin, within minutes, provided, accurate situational awareness, to another LNO in Cedar Rapids. Leaders in each company and location have a better understanding what is happening outside of their normal sphere of interest, can readily see information and build a better common operating picture as they work through response and restoration.
Additionally, utility executives recently attended two large WING/WEM exercises to observe integrated civilian and military agencies using the incident command system and the national incident management system.
In closing, this partnership, continually evolving, is a huge step in breaking down barriers and paradigms. We are collaborating, understanding and learning as never before. The way ahead is continuous coordination, building and maintaining relationships as far reaching as possible.
Those in the emergency management business agree that it is much better to trade business cards prior to an incident than meeting for the first time at an incident.
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