Network of Protection
Louisiana InfraGard shows how government and private entities work together for national security
Before he starts, Lester Millet III wants to make one thing perfectly clear. This isn’t a club. This isn’t an excuse to hold meetings. This isn’t a game. No, Louisiana InfraGard — a public and private alignment between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and vital business and civic leaders — deals with national security, preserving the industrial backbone of the country from threats. It is serious business.
“This is just me talking, but I’m not really interested in numbers, “Millet says. “I’m not looking for everybody. As a chapter, we’re looking for somebody who can get through the dual vetting process — through the local office and headquarters— and you can be an asset, and those are people tied to the 16 sectors. It can be transportation, aviation, pipeline, shipping, chemical, etc.
“And then beyond that, we’re looking for somebody with some subject matter expertise to share information. We’re looking for people who aren’t just looking to put something on their resume.”
Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1996 when federal investigators needed assistance from computer programmers to combat what were then new cybercrimes, FBI InfraGard chapters now work independently and focus on the development, management and protection of critical infrastructure.
Of those chapters, InfraGard Louisiana serves as a shining example of what these organizations should strive to become. Within the past five years, Louisiana InfraGard has been nominated for two national awards, hosted two successful FBI/WMD Conferences in 2012, conducted one of the largest full scale exercises in 2010 with its Gulf South Crisis Area Access Control program and hosted the FBI INLETS (Intel and Law Enforcement Training Seminar) in October. Last but not least, Louisiana InfraGard FBI coordinator Corey Harris was recently nationally recognized, and in 2014 Millet won the “Governor’s Technology Award/Growth Organization of the Year” from the Louisiana Technology Council because of the work done with InfraGard.
“InfraGard Louisiana is regarded as one of the best chapters in the country, if not the best,” Millet says. “And what this is, when you boil it down, is a partnership. The FBI gathers intelligence via the public and private sector. Everything is not just technology; you have to have a human element to garnish intelligence — people.
“One thing I like to say about it, and it’s a bit of a cliché, but InfraGard is a Force Multiplier. It allows the FBI to receive intel from vetted members that they can trust. “
Millet, who is also chairman of one of the largest Facility Security Officers (FSO) groups in the country, has spearheaded several progressive and ambitious projects via InfraGard: namely the Louisiana School Safety Initiative Multi-Hazard Toolkit and the InfraGard and Louisiana State Police Next-Gen Re-Entry Protocol. InfraGard also hosts regular advanced cyber workshops as part of its “Tiger Trap” initiative.
By the end of the year, Louisiana InfraGard will have more than 900 active members divided into four regions (North Louisiana, Acadiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans).
“One thing we do, that’s a little different than other chapters, is having access to the membership, establish a distribution list and hold regular meetings throughout the state where we exchange information. Basically, we do FBI Threat Briefing, which is a one-day event where the FBI comes and will look through adjudicated cases — bomb threats, counter-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction — and then a portion of the day will be on cybercrimes. It’s a full day of training.”
“At the end of the day, this is public, private partnering to secure our nation’s infrastructure,” Millet continues. “It’s a two-way street. It’s a bi-lateral sharing of information. The FBI not only receives information, but they also share; and I actually share intel and situational awareness with two distribution lists — the FSOs and InfraGard.”
By William Kalec