LTG Russel Honoré Discusses Leadership, Disaster Preparedness at Georgia Tech

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Lieutenant General Russel Honoré (U.S. Army, ret) visited Georgia Tech on October 30, 2014 to speak about leadership, disaster preparedness, and the grand environmental, social, and infrastructure challenges of the twenty-first century. LTG Honoré, widely hailed by the media as the “Category 5 General,” led Joint Task Force Katrina in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. The general’s visit was co-sponsored by the Nunn School’s Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy (CISTP) and the Georgia Tech Office of Emergency Preparedness, a division of the Georgia Tech Police Department dedicated to preparing for and responding to campus emergencies. Andy Altizer, the University’s Director of Emergency Preparedness, provided introductory remarks.

In his public talk LTG Honoré focused on the need for greater preparedness when dealing with natural and manmade threats. He spoke in depth about historical and contemporary disasters – citing numerous examples of how political decision making, cultural norms, undue obedience to standard procedures, and other human factors undermined both preparation for and response to these kinds of events. Several of the general’s examples came from his tenure as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina.

LTG Honoré posited that the forecasted growth in population from seven to ten billion over the next century presents a central challenge to human security. He implored the engineers of Georgia Tech to implement creative solutions to problems such as pandemic diseases and the global availability of electricity and drinking water. The general also offered advice on how to lead in catastrophic situations, advising the audience to quickly and sensibly decide “what rules to break” in a worst-case scenario.

Following his talk, LTG Honoré attended a private lunch with the Sam Nunn Security Program (Class of 2014-2015). This venue gave the Nunn Fellows an opportunity to engage the general directly on his personal experiences, as well as gain his perspective on the grand challenges of the twenty-first century. Topics of conversation ranged from how the scheduling of college and professional football games factored into Louisiana’s hurricane evacuation efforts in 2005 and 2008 to his assessment of Atlanta’s response to the 2014 ice storm. LTG Honoré concluded by challenging the Nunn Fellows to work toward solutions to the global issues he mentioned in his earlier remarks.

LTG Russel L. Honoré, (US Army, ret), was widely hailed by the media as the "Category 5 General" who led Task Force Katrina in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast in the summer of 2005. General Honoré is currently a Senior Scientist with The Gallup Organization, where he is working on developing questions to determine levels of preparedness, and a CNN Preparedness Contributor. He is also the author of “Leadership In The New Normal” (Acadian House 2012) and “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters.” (Atria 2009).

Originally funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Science, Technology, and Security Initiative, the Sam Nunn Security Program seeks to advance the role of scientific and technical advice on issues of international security through education, research, outreach activities, and participation in the policy advisement process. The Program is committed to educating scientists and engineers about national security issues and providing the analytical tools they need to interact with the policy community. It selects young and mid-career scientists and engineers for intensive year-long training in research approaches and policy formulation methods for addressing national and international security issues. It is currently led by Professor Seymour Goodman and Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal, both of the Nunn School.


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