Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Defense Transportation Tracking System office, or DTTS, hosted their second Rehearsal of Concept drill and table-top exercise May 2 with various stakeholders sharing their roles, responsibilities and notification procedures for emergency response to incidents or accidents involving Arms, Ammunition and Explosives.

The DTTS ROC drill and table-top exercise provides a platform for continual education for movement of Department of Defense high security risk cargo and response to any potential accident. The exercise is also designed to identify critical gaps between responders.

Participants in this year's exercise included representatives from the military services, chief executives and operations officers from the motor carrier industries and local authorities from surrounding Scott Air Force Base communities.

"This exercise is a great opportunity to get major players involved in the process together to teach each other about our unique roles and how our processes all fit together to work toward the safe and secure delivery of AA&E," said Dan Bradley, DTTS program manager. "We also focus on training and familiarization with our roles and procedures between the various entities that could be involved."

The day's events started with stakeholders briefing how they fit into the overall emergency response role. Among the briefers were representatives from DTTS, Joint Munitions Command, Quality Assurance Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance), local authorities, explosive ordnance disposal and carrier performance (SDDC's Strategic Business office), to name a few.

After a morning of briefings, the meeting shifted into interactive table-top exercises with participants discussing their notification and response procedures in four notional scenarios. The scenarios centered on tractor-trailers transporting AA&E shipments involved in various incidents and accidents.

Stakeholders discussed their response processes for a tractor-trailer accident on a major highway; a mass safe haven order given with an installation denying entry for trucks; theft of a trailer carrying government AA&E; and a serious accident involving fire putting the trailer's AA&E load at risk of detonation.

These situations may sound like worst case scenarios, but that's the point. The table-top exercise is designed not only to provide an interactive forum for all participants to discuss their processes, but also to surface any potential critical gaps that may exist between responders.

"The table-top exercises opened up needed dialogue between agencies to address concerns," said Brent Saunders, fire chief, O'Fallon, Ill. "It is good to have this dialog now because when an incident occurs, that is not the time to try and determine who is responsible for what actions."

"We all learned a lot from this experience," said Bill Maham, policy and technology manager for DTTS. "The ROC drill process allows every attendee to contribute. Each player arrives from their normal environments, which are disjointed by distance and time zones across the nation. Up until this drill, most participants could only see their role from their own perspective. Participating in the ROC drill allows them to see their respective actions in the context of the entire emergency response process and in the correct time-phased sequence."

"I think the main takeaway this year is we reinforced that the overall DOD process for tracking high security risk shipments is very solid," Bradley said. "But, as with all things, there are areas we can improve on and we should continue to push to make the process better."