Home News Stories 2004 January The Strategic Information and Operations Center Turns 15

The Strategic Information and Operations Center Turns 15

Protecting America Around the Clock
The FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center Turns 15



The year is 1987. Just days before Thanksgiving, the inmates of a detention center in Oakdale, Louisiana, suddenly begin rioting. Within hours, some 1,000 prisoners set half the compound ablaze, seize control of the rest, and take 28 hostages. The Bureau swiftly sends 300 personnel from around the country to the scene—Hostage Rescue teams, SWAT teams, special agents, and other experts.

Two days later, several states away, inmates in Atlanta, Georgia, follow with a riot of their own. This time, there are 125 hostages. And again, the FBI is immediately at the scene, with 12 more SWAT teams that begin working shoulder-to-shoulder with local, state, and federal partners to address the crisis.

Both incidents were resolved swiftly and safely. But the lesson was clear from this episode and others. In an age where major crimes and terrorist attacks can quickly become national emergencies that involve dozens of agencies in different counties, states, and even countries, the FBI needed more than just the ad hoc emergency operations center that it had created for specific crisis situations.

It needed...a national, multi-agency command post working around the clock and ready to gear up at a moment's notice. One that could centrally manage a major emergency of any kind and even several crises at once. One that could get and send critical information everywhere it needed to go. And one that could house experts from dozens of government agencies, all linked to their own databases.

That year, we began planning such a center. And 15 years ago Monday, we officially launched it: the Strategic Information and Operations Center, or SIOC.

What crises/investigations has it helped resolve? Of course, the attacks of 9/11, when SIOC became the nerve center for the country's massive investigation. But also, to name a few:

  • The Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995;
  • The attack on the U.S. military housing complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996;
  • The bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998;
  • Efforts to collect evidence on Kosovo war crimes in 1999;
  • And the Y2K rollover and investigations into planned terrorist attacks on the eve of the new millennium.

What's SIOC focusing on now? Terrorism! Not just standing ready in case of attacks but, like the rest of the FBI, helping to prevent them—thanks to new interagency initiatives like CT Watch and the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as its continued information-sharing efforts. SIOC also works around the clock to process and share the tips submitted through this website.

Today, with the daily spectre of terrorist strikes, cyber attacks, and other global crimes, SIOC has never been a more valuable force in protecting America.