The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for ensuring the Nation’s nuclear forensics capability is prepared to respond to a radiological or nuclear event carried out by a terrorist as well as aid in identifying the perpetrators. On Feb. 24-28, 2014, DHS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the State of New Jersey law enforcement and first responder partners, conducted an exercise of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) Ground Collections Task Force (GCTF).
The scenario for this exercise, Prominent Hunt 14-1, included the deployment of an advanced NTNF GCTF team near the site of the exercise’s hypothetical nuclear incident to facilitate response. The advanced team and state and federal entities coordinated to quickly bring the remaining NTNF GCTF assets to conduct operations. Throughout the exercise, the New Jersey State Police provided law enforcement and aviation assets, and served as the Incident Commander.
During the exercise, the interagency task force worked seamlessly to execute their mission and demonstrated their ability to collect ground samples, the first step in nuclear forensics in the event of a nuclear incident, so that nuclear forensics analysis can be conducted at designated laboratories.
The GCTF is part of the U.S. Government NTNF program which includes the Department of State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in addition to DHS, DOE, FBI, and DOD. Nuclear forensics helps the U.S. Government to hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that either supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction.