IFE14 Field Exercise: Ground Control getting ready

In preparation for the on-site inspection Integrated Field Exercise IFE14 that will take place in November-December in Jordan, a final training activity for experts from the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and Member States was conducted from 16 to 18 September.

Click for IFE14 webpage

The training took place at the CTBTO’s Equipment Storage and Maintenance Facility in Guntramsdorf, near Vienna, Austria. The facility, which serves both as storage for the CTBTO’s on-site inspection equipment and as a training location, will be used as the Operations Support Centre (OSC) during IFE14.
The training focussed on team members participating in the exercise as OSC staff. The OSC will serve as the “ground control”, supporting the inspection team in the field in a variety of ways and acting as a hub for all information flowing between the team and the CTBTO’s headquarters.

The OSC serves as the centre for supporting the inspection team during the inspection. During the launch phase, it will prepare the inspection team by generating plans and collecting information. After the team departs, the OSC is focused on supporting it with information, arranging services, the rotation of inspectors, and replacement of equipment. The OSC also informs CTBTO senior management on how the OSI is proceeding.

The Operation Support Centre's many roles

The OSC’s many roles include:

-    Planning the Inspection Mandate and the official notification of the Inspection, calling up the inspectors and making all logistical arrangements so that the inspection team and equipment arrive at the point of entry within the required Treaty timeline of six days from receipt of the inspection request to arrival at the point of entry. Unlike the International Atomic Energy Agency or the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the CTBTO’s inspectorate is composed mainly of non-staff members who would need to be flown in from around the world.

-    Briefing the inspection team before it travels to the inspection area and relaying information relevant for the inspection, for example regarding detections by the International Monitoring System (IMS) of the event that triggered the on-site inspection.

-    Supplying the inspection team with necessary information to ensure the success of the inspection; this may include relevant data from the IMS network’s radionuclide stations, data from International Data Centre (IDC) and National Technical Means of verification, and regular updates on the local security, political and media situation.

-    Acting as a highly-secure communication hub between the inspection team and the CTBTO. This includes updating senior management and Member States on the inspection’s progress.
The objective of the IFE14 OSC Training Course is aimed to prepare the OSC staff to play their role during the Integrated Field Exercise… IFE14 is the best platform to test the achievements of the last seven or eight years in developing the OSI regime and to learn what else we need in order to achieve OSI readiness.

During IFE14, OSC staff will be grouped into different teams covering logistics, operations and administration, planning, and personnel. In addition, a team of liaison officers will maintain contact with all of the CTBTO’s divisions. At the end of the training, team members were fully prepared for their respective roles and responsibilities during all phases of the inspection. In addition, the OSC’s infrastructure was set up and tested.
We’re trying to bring everyone up to the same level of understanding what the rules and responsibilities are. The key thing is to walk through the products that will be produced by each team such as the initial inspection plan, the inspection mandate (during the launch phase), so that everyone understands what others are doing and how it all comes together to support the OSI.