Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Exercise TOPOFF 4 to run from Oct 15-19

Thanks to J Doe and the Fedcom newsgroup for this interesting tidbit. Here is an upcoming DHS exercise that may provide some an interesting listening opportunity, but then again we might not hear a peep. Let us know what your hear.

The United States will test this month its preparedness for a large scale terrorist attack with a dirty bomb, a Homeland Security Department official said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will conduct the largest and most comprehensive counterterrorism exercise to date from Oct. 15-19 in Arizona and Oregon, and the U.S. territory of Guam. Top Officials 4 (TOPOFF 4) is the fourth in a series of congressionally-mandated exercises and involves various federal agencies as well as the governments of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

"The National Intelligence Estimate and recent activity overseas reinforce that we are in a period of increased risk," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Exercises like TOPOFF help test response capabilities at all levels, strengthen national preparedness and deepen international coordination. By responding realistically to these simulated attacks, we're able to identify our strengths and weaknesses, build better partnerships, and gain valuable knowledge for securing the nation against terrorist attacks and other natural disasters."

TOPOFF 4 will involve more than 15,000 participants from all levels of government, international partners and the private sector in a full-scale, simulated response to radiological dispersal device attacks.

"TOPOFF stresses our preparedness and response systems with situations that no single agency or jurisdiction could handle on its own," said David Paulison, Administrator of DHS' Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The right response actually takes thousands of individuals working together. This exercise is about strengthening working relationships within our partners in federal, state and local agencies, emergency management communities and private industry groups. It's about increasing preparedness by sharing information and processes."

And from the DHS website at

TOPOFF 4: Exercising National Preparedness

Top Officials 4 (TOPOFF 4) is the Nation’s premier terrorism preparedness exercise, involving top officials at every level of government, as well as representatives from the international community and private sector. Taking place October 15-19, 2007, the TOPOFF 4 Full-Scale Exercise (T4 FSE) will feature thousands of federal, state, territorial, and local officials. These officials will engage in various activities as part of a robust, full-scale simulated response to a multi-faceted threat.

The exercise will address policy and strategic issues that mobilize prevention and response systems, require participants to make difficult decisions, carry out essential functions, and challenge their ability to maintain a common operating picture during an incident of national significance.

New Challenges in TOPOFF 4
The TOPOFF 4 Full-Scale Exercise builds on knowledge derived from earlier TOPOFF exercises and recent real world events, and contains several new elements:

-- Increased coordination with U.S. Department of Defense exercises to combat global terrorism

-- Expanded emphasis on prevention – the opportunity to piece together an intelligence “puzzle” and stop an attack before it occurs

-- Focus on mass decontamination and large-scale recovery and remediation issues

-- Focus on coordinating procedures and communications with a U.S. territory

Challenging the Entire Homeland Security System
Exercises such as TOPOFF are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated Federal, State, territorial, local, and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that does occur. The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will also exercise prevention and intelligence gathering functions, which are critical to preventing terrorist attacks. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the Nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies.