NPS Thesis: Reducing The “Gap Of Pain” - A Strategy For Optimizing Federal Resource Aailability In Response to Major Incidents

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Curtis L. Heidtke

In large-scale domestic disasters, a temporal gap frequently develops between the exhaustion of state and local resources and the arrival of federal resources. To date, strategies for reducing this so-called “gap of pain” have not been based upon scientific methodology. This thesis reviews four alternatives for ensuring continuous availability of critical commodities: pre-positioning, pre-emptive federal action, time-phased deployment, and surge transportation. For a given scenario, the optimum approach is likely to be some combination of these alternatives. Stochastic modeling using optimization techniques holds great promise for producing efficient and effective strategic solutions. This thesis evaluates one such model using two notional scenarios affecting the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area: a Category 4 hurricane and a one-kiloton nuclear explosion near the city center. The results reinforce the validity of using this method to generate viable strategic alternatives for consideration by senior decision-makers. With additional development and testing, the model may be productively applied to a range of natural and man-made incidents, in disparate locations.