Bear McConnell
Bear McConnell, U.S. Northern Command

UTSA hosts international security conference

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 8, 2006)--The UTSA Institute for the Protection of American Communities (IPAC), East Carolina University and U.S. Northern Command's Homeland Security/Defense Education Consortium (HSDEC) teamed up to host the inaugural conference, "Preparing for and Responding to Disaster in North America," Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

The forum focused on U.S., Canadian and Mexican efforts to plan for and respond to significant natural or man-made disasters that affect more than one country in North America.

More than 50 participants representing the civilian emergency preparedness, military and academic communities of the United States, Mexico and Canada heard presentations on a possible avian flu pandemic, possible catastrophic terrorism attempts on the nation's borders and lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

"We are excited about this conference and hope to promote a greater awareness and understanding of these kinds of issues," said Lawson Magruder, retired Army lieutenant general and IPAC executive director. "As a contributor from the academic community, UTSA hopes this inaugural conference forges new relationships and assists policy and decision makers in government and the private sector and creates follow-up for additional dialogue on more focused issues."

Maj. Gen. Charles Rodriguez, Texas adjutant general, opened the conference with a keynote address.

Other speakers addressing the Hurricane Katrina lessons included Bear McConnell, interagency directorate, United States Northern Command (Northcom); Jamie Kruse, director of the Center for Natural Hazards Mitigation Research, East Carolina University; and Mike Lowder, deputy director for the FEMA Response Division.

The second session addressed preparations for avian flu and included Capt. Jim Terbush, Northcom surgeon general; Chuck Bauer, director of UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Education; Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, epidemiologist for San Antonio Metro Health; Jim Chambers, director of UTSA Center of Excellence in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing, Education and Research (CEBBER); and Waldo Lopez, chief of disease control for the Laredo Health Department.

The afternoon panel presentation on man-made disasters preventing catastrophic terrorism events on the borders featured Richard Kilroy, assistant professor of political science and security studies, East Carolina University; Todd Hatteley, Royal Military College of Canada; Abelardo Rodriquez, research associate, Center for North American Strategic Studies in Mexico; and Jeffrey Addicott, director of the St. Mary's University Center for Terrorism Law.

Established in 2005, IPAC provides technical expertise and solutions for security challenges facing communities. IPAC includes the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), Center of Excellence in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing, Education and Research (CEBBER) and the Center for Response and Security Engineering and Technology (CRSET).

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