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Naval Postgraduate School. Joint Task Force Katrina Relief Effort. Unclassified Information Brief. Purpose/Objective. Purpose: To provide NCOIC with a sketch of NPS’s Hastily Formed Networks deployed in support of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina.

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Naval postgraduate school
Naval Postgraduate School

Joint Task Force Katrina Relief Effort


Information Brief

Purpose objective

  • Purpose: To provide NCOIC with a sketch of NPS’s Hastily Formed Networks deployed in support of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina.

  • Objective: To show relevance of Hastily Formed Networks and NPS’s Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief work to the global humanitarian assistance community.

Hfn defined

HFN Defined…..

Skills to Learn:

Interagency / coalition ops (civ-mil boundary)

Collaborative coordination tool set

Capacity to Improvise

Leadership in a network

HFN Concept by Dr Peter Denning,

NPS Cebrowski Institute Executive Director

Conversation space

Conversation Space…..

Medium in which all communications take place

A set of interaction rules for effective coordination among all participants

Aspects of conversation space

Aspects of Conversation Space


communication systems

meeting places

distribution systems


players and organizations


rules of interaction and coordination

Physical aspects

Physical Aspects…..

mobile networks





fast configurability

meeting places

pre-positioning essential equipment

distribution systems

Community aspects

Community Aspects…..

including all players

transcending turf issues

civil-military boundaries

sharing information

situation awareness


coordinating (action, OODA loops)

building trust

Practices aspects

Practices Aspects…..

rules of engagement for multiple, autonomous organizations

must be embodied -- not a step-by-step process

getting “buy-in” on the rules

decentralized control and decision making

collaboration without hierarchy

Instructive examples

Instructive Examples…..

NYC after 9/11

open, included all NY conditioned tendency to stovepipe

SE Asian Tsunami Dec 26 ’04

collaboration w/out hierarchy, ad hoc, no common conversation space

US Gulf Coast after Katrina Aug 29 ‘05

partitioned, protecting turf, finger pointing, red tape, citizens initially not included



Doing HFN well means mastery of conversation space

What are the rules of the most productive “game”?

What are the skills for successful play?

Where does technology fit in (HFN is the key to the kingdom)?

Hastily formed networks
Hastily Formed Networks

NPS’s Katrina

Relief Effort

Network infrastructure

Hancock Medical





Law Enforcement EOC

Bay St Louis Fire &

Police Station


Police Station






Tachyon Satellite

802.16 Wireless

802.11 Wireless

Network Infrastructure

The problem

The Problem…..

No power

No fiber/copper infrastructure

No push-to-talk comms to speak of

Cellular services totally jammed

Satellite phone service totally jammed

Not enough satellite eqpt suites available

No Internet access (web, email, VOIP)

One viable comms solution

One Viable Comms Solution…..

SATCOM Internet Reachback

802.11 (WiFi) and 802.16 (WiMax)

Broadband Internet, Web, Email

Voice Over IP (basic dial-tone)

Skype (free internet phone)

Groove (collaboration solution)

Tie in to earlier hfn definition

Tie-in to Earlier HFN Definition…..

Skills to Learn:

Interagency / coalition ops (civ-mil boundary)

Collaborative coordination tool set

Capacity to Improvise

Leadership in a network

Employed technologies
Employed Technologies

2 Mbps Down

512Kbps Up

Long Haul Wide Area Network Connection

54 Mbps

The team

NPS Faculty Members (2)

NPS Students (19)

Information Warfare, Information Systems and Technology, Joint C4I Systems, Space Systems Operations, Space Systems Engineering

Multi-service, Multi-designator


Naval Reservists (5)

Naval Security Group Reserve

OSD NII Observer

Active Duty Commander, USN

Corporate Partners

Cisco, Microsoft, Redline, Tachyon, Mercury Data Systems, Rajant Corp.

The Team……


  • Created and extended full scale, timely, and self contained wide area network in an austere environment – expanded from Tsunami work

  • First comms capability for *many*

  • Learned about civ-mil boundary issues CONUS vs International from Tsunami work

  • Valuable student real world application of technology (learned by doing – live lab work)

Benefits observations
Benefits / Observations

  • NPS:

    • TCP/IP glue that binds

    • Practical value for students and faculty

    • Enhanced research opportunities and theses insights

    • New connections for collaboration (like with NCOIC)

  • Navy:

    • Network Capability is a first responder necessity

    • Time Matters

    • Learned about adaptability in austere environments (improvisation)

    • Reconfirmed applicability of wireless to disaster relief (ship/shore comms)

  • Joint:

    • JTF Operations - collaborative environment using Internet technologies

    • Comms interoperability one of biggest HA/DR issues

    • Social/Political/Economic (soft science) as challenging as technical

    • Civil/Military Boundary is a key with much work to be done

Lessons learned
Lessons Learned

  • Effect of No Common Situational Awareness

  • VoIP Was HUGE Benefit

  • Physical Access Was a Challenge

  • PTT Radio Interoperability a Growing Concern

  • Creature Comforts – You’re on Your Own

  • Pre-Positioning Assets and Contracts

    – Can’t Negotiate in the Chaos !

  • Force Protection

  • Active Military vs Nat’l Guard (or both)?

  • Providing Internet Access to the Public

Current nps research
Current NPS Research

  • PTT Radio Interoperability

  • More International HA/DR Issues

  • Hastily Formed Networks that Enable…..

    • Noncombatant Evacuation Ops (NEO) Tracking Systems

    • Patient / Victim Tracking Systems

    • Ship-to-Shore Wireless for HA/DR and Hospital Ships

  • Airline Luggage Capable Flyaway Kits

  • Smaller Form Factor VSAT

  • NCOIC CHD Case Study

  • Strong Angel III (Aug 20-26 San Diego)

Conclusion and challenges
Conclusion and Challenges…..

  • “We” must do better !

  • Who are “We” ?

  • How do “We” proceed ?

  • Are We ready for the next hurricane season, international disaster, Japan’s “big one”, Global Avian Flu Pandemic, etc ?

  • Need scalable, robust, interoperable comms !!

  • Int’l Community, Private Sector, DoD all have roles !!

    Brian Steckler, Associate Chair for Special Programs,

    Naval Postgraduate School – 831.402.1584

Bottom line no way to run a railroad
Bottom Line: No Way To Run A Railroad !!