REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms building on Redstone Arsenal works as an important hub.
ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson explains, "This serves as ATF's hub for everything we do with explosive and fire and arson. Training, research and development, and information sharing."
That information sharing role takes on new importance during an attack like we saw in Paris.
After all, you have a lot of different agencies responding.
"On those large scenes," Robinson elaborates, "A lot of times the needs and necessities of the scene are going to overwhelm the local resources, state resources, federal agencies are going to respond, and we're also going to be at times reaching out to the assistance of the military."
All those agencies get explosives training on Redstone Arsenal.
They even have a class called Explosive Recognition for Intelligence Analysts, which focuses on training military and law enforcement together.
That way in the field, "It's that consistency," Robinson says, "It's the procedures and techniques that carry through all those different levels of training from the basic all the way up through advanced training. We're talking in the same terms about these materials and devices and tactics and techniques that are used elsewhere in the country and around the world."
Plus, they get practice for this type of cooperation.
Robinson adds, "We also run a really large exercise annually, an interoperability exercise, that brings together public safety, bomb technicians, and the military EOD operators that train together."
The exercise helps everyone know their role and how they will interact in the event of an attack on U.S. soil.
The ATF also runs BATS, the Bomb Arson Tracking System, which stores information past and present on bombings in the U.S.
If we saw a Paris-type attack in America, our security forces can look at BATS in real-time.
Robinson says, "They're able to query that in the system and see if there are other similar incidents that have recently occurred around the country."
They can also feed back live pictures devices to gatherings of experts at the ATF building, possibly getting lifesaving information back in real-time.
There are a ton of moving parts in a response to an event like we saw in Paris. Questions arise like who secures what, who raids what.
But all the information on explosives comes from one place, the ATF building on Redstone Arsenal with its database and experts.