Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by CDR Heather Kostecki, Planning and Force Readiness Department Head, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.
In the exercise community, we often hear the term “exercise fatigue,” since with each new regulation and guideline comes a new requirement to conduct exercises. Many planners find themselves overwhelmed about how to meet the requirements and how to balance readiness needs against resource limitations.
More Exercises, Same Resources
One answer is to combine exercises to maximize available funding and manpower. Ports have started pairing area maritime security exercises with oil spill response exercises, and hurricane exercises with mass rescue operation exercises.
However, exercise creep (attempting to address too many issues within one exercise) can rapidly derail the exercise. Also, if not planned with a focus on coordinated operations, a combined exercise can turn into two exercises taking place at the same time.
Failure to establish interconnectivity between the exercises results in lost opportunities to explore the “rub points” that will occur when actual operations with different goals occupy the same space and compete for the same resources.
A Long-Term Solution
One way to address the issue is by producing a long-term exercise schedule that is systematic and regional in nature to achieve economies of scale and synergy.
FEMA regional training and exercise plan workshops, for example, allow regional partners to see what other exercises may be occurring that cover the same territory as their own, with the opportunity to combine efforts.
Combining exercises can be accomplished successfully if planners link exercises very deliberately and thoughtfully. All parties need to be apprised of the scope of play from the beginning, and must hold firm to that scope despite pressure to tack on “just one more” issue. Most importantly, the issues being evaluated must continue to meet all statutory requirements for each of the participating programs.
Members of different response communities in a port should meet well in advance of a planned combined exercise to learn what each community does during a response, what their jurisdictional boundaries are, and each community’s authorities and capabilities.
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Full article is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/fall2009.
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