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At the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), we plan and prepare for the unthinkable. DNDO is the primary entity in the U.S. government for the integration of federal nuclear forensics programs. In mid-February we helped plan an exercise in Suffolk County, N.Y. to assess our national nuclear forensic capabilities.
The National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collections Task Force, in coordination with Suffolk County Law Enforcement and Emergency Management Agencies, participated in exercise “Prominent Hunt 13-2.” The Task Force, which includes the Departments of Defense and Energy, and the FBI, is a crucial component of the national nuclear forensics program. The job of the Task Force is to collect information and nuclear debris near the site, in the event of a nuclear detonation, for analysis at designated laboratories. The results of this nuclear forensic analysis would enhance the law enforcement investigation and intelligence information to assist in the identification of those responsible for such an attack.
DNDO both facilitated the exercise, and acted as a liaison for exercise control between the Task Force and the Suffolk County participants, demonstrating our critical partnership with state and local partners, such as Suffolk County.
Despite blizzard-like conditions, the Task Force adapted to the challenging environmental conditions and successfully completed the exercise. Operations were conducted to standard; planned collection missions were completed; and all exercise objectives were met. Participants in this exercise developed valuable lessons learned and best practices that will enhance our national nuclear forensic capabilities.