Elmer Nelson

“I knew a lot of those folks,” he said
reflectively, speaking of the dead in the attack. “That was a real
motivator. When you were working 18-hour days seven days a week, it
gave you that motivation. I helped with the briefings and some of the
operations on the Navy side, accounting for people and eventually
helped with the families, which made it very personal.”

A Naval Academy graduate, Nelson joined
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin in 1987 as a systems engineer. He
went on to become the company’s regional manager of the Federal
Aviation Administration’s National Airspace Implementation and Support
Contract. From 1991 to 1997, he managed a staff of 900 people and a
$750 million program. He continued to rise in the company and was
appointed vice president of the Homeland Systems Security Division in
2002.

Nelson was responsible for Lockheed Martin’s
side of the federalization of airport security screeners and meeting a
difficult, Nov. 19, 2002, deadline. The same team that worked on that
project provides support to the Transportation Security
Administration’s (TSA) training of screeners today.

“We were able to pull from our existing
capabilities when TSA was on crunch time,” he recalled. “We were able
to go out and get those people. It’s putting together the right
combination of skill sets that gets you the solution going forward.”

Looking ahead

Nelson is looking to expand Lockheed Martin’s core capability in security training in the years ahead.

Training is a major endeavor encompassing
curriculum development, learning management systems, logistics and
coordinating the movement of students and teachers. According to
Nelson, Lockheed Martin is offering a complete solution to meet the
need. “We’ll take care of it from A to Z,” he said.

The effort has paid off: The company won a
follow-on contract from TSA for screener training, which has evolved
from the frantic early days when screening was first federalized.

Lockheed Martin is also providing support to
the chief security officer of the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), Jack Johnson, establishing and coordinating security across the
22 former agencies that now make up the department.

The company is involved in a smaller way with
the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is looking at involvement
in national exercise planning.

Further down the road, while the focus will
remain security-related training, Nelson hopes to build on Lockheed
Martin’s foundation with TSA to provide training to other DHS
components.

The company will also get involved in
physical security, port security, water supply security and
vulnerability assessments. It has only just begun to work with states
and municipalities.

“We’ve brought in a lot of subject-matter
experts in those fields, to work with the engineering, technical side
of Lockheed Martin so that we can understand this new marketplace,”
Nelson said.

Homeland security is still defining itself
and so is the market, according to Nelson, but that means numerous
opportunities for the giant corporation. The company’s System
Management division alone employs more than 5,500 people at more than
200 locations around the world.

Long familiar with the Department of Defense,
Lockheed Martin is carefully assessing the role that NorthCom, DoD’s
homeland security command, will play in the overall homeland security
effort. Also being examined is the interaction between DoD, DHS and the
homeland security civil components, such as emergency response and
exercises.

Encouragement

One of the things that deeply encourages
Nelson was the way TSA grew, driven by the need and dedication of the
people in it and the efforts of Lockheed Martin employees.

It reminds Nelson of his Navy reserve experience the day after 9/11.

“When I look back, it was a very tough time,
but it was a very encouraging time,” he recounted. “People were calling
up to say: ‘Hey, I’m here to do whatever I can do,’ not, ‘This is just
my area of responsibility.’ Rather, it was: ‘What can I do to help?’”

He continued: “There are defining moments in
your life that really make a difference. We try to take that and
support our customers in their defining moments—which are never
scheduled, could be on a weekend, could be any time—so that we can be
responsive. That’s where our capabilities to really partner with our
customers lies; to understand what they need and when they need it so
that—we’re there. Their success is our success.” HST

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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