Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Director of Kansas Homeland Security and the adjutant general, announced the opening of a new homeland security education center in Topeka Wednesday.
The Eisenhower Center for Homeland Security (HLS) Studies, located on the State Defense Building Complex at 2722 SW Topeka Blvd., Room 166, is a collaborative public/private initiative that will support local and state government and private sector homeland security partners.
Designed as a one-stop shop for homeland security activities, initiatives and best practices for all of Kansas, the center is planned to serve as a classroom, simulation center, and as a rapid set-up situational awareness facility for assisting with large-scale disaster response.
“Collaboration is the key to successful homeland security efforts,” said Sebelius. “This center will help Kansans work together as a team and best leverage our physical and intellectual resources for dealing with future challenges.”
Over the next year, a variety of classes, seminars and exercises will be offered exploring subjects such as individual and organizational disaster preparedness, homeland security situational awareness, information sharing and basic homeland security principles. The multi-agency multi-discipline approach will utilize computer-generated simulations to allow public officials, private industry partners, non-governmental organizations and elected officials to experience and discuss the challenges faced during natural and manmade disasters, including terrorism.
Even before its official opening, the center staff has been busy, building partnerships and teaching a variety of disaster preparedness and response courses to more than 420 students across Kansas.
“Unlike many current initiatives across the nation, the Kansas center is unique in its multi-agency, multi-discipline approach,” said Bunting. “Tremendous effort has gone into designing a high-tech facility with the flexibility to help Kansas Homeland Security professionals from all disciplines.”
“I’m thrilled that the federal government is able to support the state’s only dedicated location where first responders, National Guardsmen, homeland security professionals, agency leaders and elected officials can plan for and respond to a variety of natural and manmade disasters,” said Boyda. “These types of efforts are critical in helping us prepare for the future.”
Currently, the Eisenhower Center for Homeland Security Studies is partnered with more than 20 government agencies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and private industry partners. In addition, the center works closely with the Governor’s Commission on Healthy and Prepared Schools to keep Kansas schools safe. The number of partners is expected to significantly expand within and beyond the borders of Kansas during 2008.
The center is a result of several years of work between the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department and Defense Microelectronic Activity, a part of the Department of Defense. Initial money came from congressional funding in 2006, with Boyda securing additional financing of $929,000 for the center for 2008.
The center is named in honor of Kansan Dwight D. Eisenhower, who built an alliance of partners dedicated to overcoming the greatest challenge of the 20th Century.