DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s nuclear forensics capability is prepared to respond to a radiological or nuclear event. On August 11-15, 2013, DHS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE) conducted an exercise of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) Ground Collections Task Force (GCTF), Prominent Hunt 13-3.
The exercise tested the Task Force’s ground collection capability—the first step in nuclear forensics—in the event of a nuclear detonation. The Task Force is responsible for collecting debris samples in the event of a nuclear detonation for nuclear forensics analysis at designated laboratories.
During the exercise, the Task Force used the Aerial Radiation Detection and Identification Measurement System, which enhances the efficiency of the forensic collections process by alerting the Task Force to the best location to collect debris samples in the event of an incident. This technology was recently tested and evaluated by DNDO, and ensures the best samples for forensic analysis are collected.
The GCTF is part of the 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. DNDO is mandated under the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act of 2010 to provide centralized stewardship, planning, assessment, gap analysis, exercises, improvement, and integration for all federal nuclear forensics activities. 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.