Joint Base San Antonio tackles community resilience

  • Published
  • By Summer Shuler
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio, Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s National Security Collaboration Center co-hosted the InfraGard National Disaster Resiliency Council’s annual summit Dec. 5-6.

InfraGard is an FBI-affiliated non-profit organization with 37,000 members dedicated to strengthening national security and protecting United States critical infrastructure.

“We are honored to co-host this annual summit,” said Brig. Gen. Russell D. Driggers, JBSA and 502nd Air Base Wing commander. “As the seventh-largest city in the U.S., and as the largest joint base in the Department of Defense, it’s appropriate that we have these important discussions here. It is crucial that we work together to mitigate the high-impact threat of long-term power and communications failures.”

Driggers noted San Antonio is a good location for the summit due to it being the second largest concentration of cyber professionals, behind Washington, D.C, and is the headquarters for U.S. Army North and U.S. Army South.

Driggers also spoke about the strain San Antonio experienced due to Winter Storm Uri. The storm affected hundreds of JBSA facilities when electricity was out for several days, resulting in a water system failure. He thanked the attendees for coming together and taking the necessary steps to protect our critical infrastructure.

“By hosting the summit in San Antonio, JBSA brought subject-matter experts from throughout the nation to San Antonio with innovative ideas, benchmarks and solutions for some of the most challenging aspects of promoting infrastructure resilience,” said Michael Lovell, executive director of JBSA Electromagnetic Defense Initiative.

This year’s summit included partnerships with infrastructure owners to facilitate discussions on making our community more resilient to natural and manufactured threats to critical infrastructure.

“We have been working with JBSA since 2019 when they first attended one of our summits,” said Mary Lasky, InfraGard’s NDRC Chair. “We were particularly interested in their Electromagnetic Defense Initiative and shared insights from that. It was wonderful when JBSA suggested we reach out to UTSA and their National Security Collaboration Center. After discussing it with them, we ended up here in San Antonio.

“The NDRC is the biggest council, operational since 2011, with a purpose of taking a closer look at our critical infrastructure to ensure that it’s protected, focusing on the electric grid, communications, water systems, transportation and healthcare,” noted Lasky.

Immediately following this summit, JBSA held its first Energy Resilience Readiness Exercise round table meeting to facilitate a discussion-based scenario involving a disruption of services event at JBSA. The inaugural ERRE, which focused primarily on JBSA-Randolph, was just the first in a series of planned exercises that will focus on all other primary JBSA locations.

As the Air Force strives for mission assurance through energy assurance, these exercises, also known as “black start exercises,” are some of the resources, developed and published by the Office of Energy Assurance, to help installations assess mission readiness during a controlled disruption of service.

According to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure, the DAF is conducting ERREs to determine if installations can meet mission objectives during loss of power and water events.

In these scenarios, participants discuss notifications and action items in the event of power and water loss event, mass notification procedures, actions taken to restore the electrical power grid, effectiveness and timeliness of radio, telephone, and email information, streamlined command and control procedures, and common terminology involved.

“The InfraGard Summit officially kicks off our global resilience effort across JBSA,” Driggers said. “It represents our commitment to engage in meaningful dialogue and be proactive so that we are better postured to thwart attacks from our enemies and keep our communities safe.”