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PRACTICING LIKE WE PLAY: EXAMINING HOMELAND SECURITY EXERCISES

An Official United States Government Report

 

Presenting The Drilling Adventures of Government


PREPARED STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENERAL STEVEN SAUNDERS:

"Chairman Cuellar, Mr. Dent and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss homeland security exercises in preparation to domestic disasters, natural or man-made. The National Guard has been actively participating in homeland security since the Revolutionary War. It has always been the first military responder in times of need, to natural disasters, civil disturbances, or attacks on our homeland. The National Guard’s success in the performance of its historic dual mission, especially in the last several years, has increased the expectations for a sustained and coordinated National Guard response to crisis at home."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


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A Schedule Planned Years In Advance:

"Once events have been determined and placed on the Schedule, exercise partners will understand their commitments years in advance, and such commitment will be successfully clarified incrementally as the time nears for the exercise’s execution. The (NEP) National Exercise Program will enable participants to adequately plan and finance their responsibilities."

"Over time, principles of the NEP will be universally adopted by the Federal inter- agency community and with State and local partners. A fully operational NEP will bring our Nation one step closer to achieving a truly organized and unified preparedness exercise strategy. The Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act requirement to integrate more systematically the FEMA Regional Administrators into preparedness efforts is being accounted for in the development and implementation of the National Exercise Program. Future TOPOFF exercise activities will focus on multiple FEMA regions. A comprehensive review of NEP activities is underway to identify assets that can be directly applied to ensure the FEMA Regions have a means to participate in exercise planning and coordination, across all NEP defined Tiers, including a prominent role in coordinating with States, local and Tribal jurisdictions within their designated areas. Going forward, we anticipate not only relying upon the regions to assist in devel- oping future NLE activities, but to gain maximum benefit from the operational linkages the Regional Administrators and their Preparedness teams develop across the forward deployed ‘Federal family’ located within their respective regions. We envision the NEP structure and FEMA Regional involvement will greatly enhance ‘vertical coordination’ of exercise priorities across the entire Federal government.

We also envision that FEMA regional preparedness teams will play a primary role in assessing preparedness within their regions. A key component of that responsibility will derive from observations taken from exercise activities that are reported and acted upon in concert with the Corrective Action Program. "

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


"As you know, the National Guard has been actively participating in homeland security since the Revolutionary War."

Major General Steven Saunders, Director, Joint Doctrine, Training and Force Development, National Guard Bureau


STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENENERAL STEVEN SAUNDERS, DIRECTOR, JOINT DOCTRINE, TRAINING AND FORCE DEVELOPMENT, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU

"General SAUNDERS. Mr. Chairman, ranking members, and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss homeland security exercises in preparation for domestic disasters, either natural or manmade. As you know, the National Guard has been actively participating in homeland security since the Revolutionary War. It has always been the first military responder in times of need, to natural disas- ters, civil disturbances, or attacks on our homeland. The National Guard’s success in the performance of its historic dual mission, especially in the last several years, has increased the expectations for a sustained and coordinated National Guard response to crises at home.

Starting in 2003, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General Steven Blum, has acted aggressively to meet those expectations. With the support of Congress, the National Guard has created at least one WMD civil support team in every state and territory. We have built 17 chemical biological radiological nuclear and explosive device enhanced response force packages, each designed to aid in search and rescue, extraction, decontamination, and medical care in weapons of mass destruction incidents. And we built the joint incident site communication capabilities designed to enhance interoperability between military and civilian responders." 

"Lieutenant General Blum also tasked my organization at the National Guard Bureau to provide education, training and exercise support for these new capabilities. The centerpiece of this effort is the Vigilant Guard Regional Exercise Program, which is designed by the National Guard Bureau to train and enhance the prepared- ness of our state-level Joint Force Headquarters and Joint Task Forces. Each of our Vigilant Guard exercise is designed to involve multiple states, ideally all of the states in a FEMA region. Beginning with an August, 2005 exercise in Ohio at FEMA Region 5, we have conducted seven such exercises so far. Subsequent exercises were conducted in Kansas FEMA Region 7, Texas FEMA Region 5, Utah FEMA Region 8, and last spring’s exercise in Indi- ana, and more recently in Washington State FEMA Region 10 and Virginia FEMA Region 3.

These exercises have grown from command post exercises concentrating on Guard information management process to robust state and local full-scale play. The exercise conducted in Indiana last May is a good example, especially notable as it was the largest homeland security exercise conducted, and we linked one or our Vigilant Guard exercises to NORTHCOM’s, Northern Command’s, Ardent Sentry Program, which included participation of personnel from the state of Indiana, Department of Homeland Security, FEMA Region 5, and the local responders from multiple counties. We came together to execute the kind of multi-level, multi-jurisdictional exercise we believe is the future of homeland security ex- ercises. For future training, the National Guard Bureau is now building exportable exercises for the states, based on the 15 national planning scenarios. Incidentally, I have a sample of the first three of those for the members if you would like to have a copy of those. As a companion to our exercise program, we have also built a National Guard Lessons Learned Program to capture and imple- ment nationwide what we have learned at each of the regional exercises. As our exercise program has matured, we have made great progress in raising the level of knowledge and experience of both state National Guards and the National Incident management System, and the Incident Command Structure, as well as the national response framework. Also, we have increased integration with our partners in DHS and their Homeland Security Exercise and Eval- uation Program, with U.S. Northern Command and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Exercise Program.

We commend the Department of Homeland Security for their work in building a foundation for future exercises. My staff has been particularly been involved in actively working with DHS in developments on the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program and its supporting HSEEP online toolkits, and implementation later this year, we look forward to that, of the National Exercise Program."

"I personally see some exciting opportunities and synergies for future exercises involving the National Guard where local and state civil authorities combine efforts with the federal and Title X military partners. We are especially interested in their Regional Exer- cise Program, which could connect civilian exercises with what we have been doing on the National Guard Bureau to increase regional cooperation and integration of supporting capabilities. The biggest challenge that the National Guard has faced in achieving National Exercise Program to be fully integrated with the Department of Defense and interagency partners has been resourcing. Beginning with the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2008, the Vigilant Guard exercise program will finally be funded in the DOD budget. This will cover only planning and design of exercises. The actual execution and state participation still comes out of different unfunded resource requirements.

The National Guard remains committed to work inside the De- partment of Defense and Department of Homeland Security and the states in finding training opportunities to enhance our pre- paredness within the capability afforded by present resources. On behalf of the Chief, National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, we commend your leadership and your attention on this important issue. I look forward to your questions, sir."

Major General Steven Saunders, Director, Joint Doctrine, Training and Force Development, National Guard Bureau

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


"PRACTICING LIKE WE PLAY: EXAMINING HOMELAND SECURITY EXERCISES"

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS, PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE, Washington, DC.

"NATIONAL EXERCISE PROGRAM: BACKGROUND: Exercises play an instrumental role in preparing the Nation to respond to natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other public emergencies. In addition to providing homeland security officials an opportunity to practice critical prevention, protection, response and recovery functions, exercises are a forum for evaluating the adequacy of existing capabilities, plans, policies and procedures. Exercises, and the lessons learned from them, allow the Nation to more effectively target investments to con- tinue to improve the broader cycle of preparedness including planning, training, and equipping our emergency response community.

DHS, in coordination with the Homeland Security Council and in response to re- quirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD–8), the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, developed and established the NEP. The purpose of the NEP is to support, through various exercises, the mechanisms to examine and improve the Nation’s ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The focus of the NEP spans Federal, State, local, Tribal, and private sector efforts to organize and conduct synchronized exercise activities. An effective NEP will strengthen delivery of Federal preparedness assist- ance to State and local governments as well as improved preparedness capabilities of Federal, State, and local entities. NEP activities provide emergency responders and policymakers with the tools to plan, organize, conduct, and evaluate exercises as well as a disciplined approach to analyzing findings from exercises. The NEP not only provides opportunities to prac- tice and test capabilities, policies, plans and procedures, but it also highlights poten- tial shortfalls through the processes of after-action reporting and subsequent im- provement activities. Prior to the NEP, there was no formal approach to prioritizing, scheduling and improvement planning for exercises. This lack of coordination resulted in activities that competed for resources, contributed to exercise fatigue, and were based on con- flicting standards for exercise design, conduct and evaluation. The NEP is designed to provide a framework for prioritizing and focusing Federal and State exercise ac- tivities to best utilize departments’, agencies’ and jurisdictions’ limited time and re- sources, as well as to ensure Federal, State, and local exercises lead to significant improvements in policies, plans and performance. The NEP is both a National and an interagency program. It serves as the prin- cipal mechanism for examining the preparation and efficiency of national leaders, their staffs, the organizations and systems they lead, as well as to examine and adopt policy changes. The NEP does not preclude or replace individual departments’ and agencies’ exercise programs. Rather, it is the overarching exercise program that unifies homeland security preparedness exercise strategies and links appropriate de- partment and agency exercises to provide a single, comprehensive exercise program."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf



The Four Tiers of The National Exercise Program (NEP)  Five Year Mission To Boldly Hoax Where No Hoax Has Faked Before:

"The NEP consists of a series of national exercises projected on a five-year calendar. These exercises occur as either National-level exercises (NLEs) or Principles- level exercises (PLEs). The NEP uses a tiered exercise system to differentiate the various types and sizes of exercises.

The four tiers are:

• Tier I exercises have a U.S. Government-wide Strategy and Policy Focus requiring participation of all appropriate department and agency heads (or deputies) and all necessary operations centers;
• Tier II exercises are exercises that focus on Federal strategy and policy, and involve appropriate participation through the National Simulation Exercise Center, or as determined by the involved departments’ and agencies’ leadership. Tier II exercises take precedence over Tier III exercise support (in the event of resource conflicts);

• Tier III exercises are other Federal Exercises with operational, tactical or regional organizational focus. Participation is at the discretion of department or agency; and
• Tier IV exercises are exercises that have a State, Territorial, local, Tribal and/ or private sector focus.

The tiered system was designed to compel better participation in exercises. Previously, exercise activities were being significantly impeded due to limited agency participation. Exercises that involve the necessary departments and agencies for a given scenario create the most realistic response environment. When one or many departments or agencies are not able to participate, due to planning or resource con- straints, the goal of an exercise is only partially realized, and therefore the results are not optimal.

The NEP implements a strategic planning cycle to guide the Tier I exercises, or NLEs. Central to this cycle is the Five-Year Schedule, which will incorporate policy priorities into the strategic scheduling of NLEs, around which departments and agencies can establish supporting training and exercise activities to identify and refine issues beforehand. The Tier I NLEs will be executed on a four-year subject-specific cycle with rotating focus on:

• Administration Transition Training; • Domestic Natural Disasters; • National Security; and • Domestic Terrorism."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


Exportable Homeland Security Exercises For The States

 "We came together to execute the kind of multi-level, multi-jurisdictional exercise we believe is the future of homeland security exercises. For future training, the National Guard Bureau is now building exportable exercises for the states, based on the 15 national planning scenarios. Incidentally, I have a sample of the first three of those for the members if you would like to have a copy of those."

Major General Steven Saunders, Director, Joint Doctrine, Training and Force Development, National Guard Bureau


"Corrective Action Program"

"Once exercises are successfully planned and conducted, the Corrective Action Pro- gram (CAP) provides for systematically developing, prioritizing, tracking, and ana- lyzing corrective actions for improving exercises, and the planning, training, and equipment which drives the cycle of preparation. The CAP also provides transfer- ability to real-world incidents and policy discussions by employing a stakeholder- driven approach to improvement planning at the Federal interagency, intra-DHS, and State/local levels. Essentially, the CAP provides a systematic means to prevent recurring problems and identify potential ‘‘corrective actions’’ and ‘‘lessons learned,’’ which respectively incorporate the CAP System and the web-based Lessons Learned Information Sharing support systems (found at LLIS.gov). All lessons learned and best practices are broadly shared through the LLIS.gov on-line tool. The CAP com- pletes the cycle of preparedness by ensuring that exercise evaluation and real-world incidents consistently yield concrete advancement toward specified preparedness goals."

"Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program"

"The HSEEP is the policy and guidance component of the NEP, and serves to standardize exercise design, development, conduct, and evaluation for all (National- level, Federal, State, and local) exercises by establishing common language and con- cepts to be adopted and used by various agencies and organizations. HSEEP aims to synchronize all exercises in the Nation in addition to providing tools and re- sources for States and local jurisdictions to establish self-sustaining exercise pro- grams. Through its development, HSEEP operates in accordance with the goals of the National Response Plan (NRP), and the National Incident Management System"

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


The National Domestic Counterterrorism Exercise Series

"This year’s Tier I NLE exercise is Top Officials (or TOPOFF) 4, the National Domestic Counterterrorism Exercise Series that is the Nation’s premier terrorism preparedness exercise program involving top officials at every level of government, as well as representatives from the international community and private sector. The TOPOFF 4 exercise, to be held October 15—20 of this year, is the cornerstone of the National Exercise Program (NEP) and is a Tier I National Level Exercise for FY 2008. The TOPOFF program in general and TOPOFF 4 in particular are centered on U.S. Government-wide strategy and policy-related issues. In this sense, they are designed to address the priorities of the U.S. government in its entirety, and do not focus on individual issues at the department or agency level. To achieve this U.S. government-wide goal, TOPOFF 4 will be organized around one of the 15 national planning scenarios—Scenario 11, use of a radiological dispersal device (RDD). TOPOFF 4 will require Federal, State, local, and private sector players to respond to multiple, simultaneous RDD attacks on American soil."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


A Governmental Exercise Including Over 40 Agencies

"Our partners in this exercise include over 40 agencies, departments, and offices throughout the federal interagency community, the White House (i.e., Homeland Se- curity Council (HSC) and National Security Council (NSC)), representatives from Oregon, Guam, and Arizona, several nongovernmental and private sector organiza- tions, and several international partners. (Australia, Canada, and the United King- dom have all agreed to participate in the exercise, and more than 30 other countries and international organizations will serve as exercise observers.)"

Goals

"The goals of TOPOFF 4 are threefold. First and foremost, to assess the Nation’s capability to prevent, respond to, and recover from realistic and threat-based acts of terrorism. Second, to examine relationships between Federal, State, local, and Tribal jurisdictions and the private sector in response to a realistic and challenging series of integrated, geographically dispersed terrorist threats and attacks. And third, to use performance-based objectives to evaluate the interaction between Fed- eral, State, local, and private sector emergency preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery plans, policies, and procedures. Achieving each of these goals under the umbrella of one national-level exercise, allows the U.S. government—and its State, local, private sector, and international exercise partners—to test its ability to respond to a major incident, identify gaps in performance and take concrete steps towards improvement of the Nation’s ability to prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


image source: Know the drill? Security experts see shift from on fire to under ...

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: New York City Firefighters drag a wounded actor


Security Rituals

"We must not only ensure that our first responders are properly equipped and trained, but we must also ensure that they practice responding to events in realistic scenarios and test the implementation of homeland security and emergency management plans."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


Good Morning From The Department of Homeland Security

"Good morning. First of all, I want to thank all the witnesses for "being here with us as we examine the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to implement a national exercise program as required by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management and Reform Act. Our mission is to perform national emergency exercises in an effective way, while at the same time fostering interagency coordination. The federal government has specified that the Department of Homeland Security should also serve as a resource for state, local and federal agencies as they conduct and evaluate exercises at the regional, state and local levels. I look forward to hearing from Mr. Schrader as he discusses in detail how this goal is being accomplished and how long it will take to fully implement the program."

"Today’s hearing continues our oversight of the Department’s im- plementation of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of last year. This Committee was instrumental in crafting that Act’s provisions, including the establishment of a comprehensive national exercise program. The National Exercise Program, or NEP as we refer to it, is currently being established within FEMA’s National Preparedness Division. I am pleased that Dennis Schrader, who is the Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, is here with us today to dis- cuss the program.

The NEP aims to provide strategic direction to national-level homeland security exercises and ensure interagency coordination. It is also to provide guidance to exercises conducted at the local, State, and regional levels and assist in after-action reviews and implementation of lessons learned. Homeland security exercises form a crucial component of the national effort to strengthen preparedness at all levels of government for acts of terrorism and natural disasters. We must not only ensure that our first responders are properly equipped and trained, but we must also ensure that they practice responding to events in realistic scenarios and test the implementation of homeland secu- rity and emergency management plans.

Today’s discussion is timely, given that later this month TOPOFF 4 will occur in Oregon, Arizona, and Guam. TOPOFF exercises are congressionally mandated, full-scale exercises to test the nation’s collective response to terrorist events. I did attend the TOPOFF 3 exercise that occurred in New Jersey and Connecticut. I spent some time in the Rutherford area of New Jersey during that exercise and learned a great deal from it."

"Mr. SCHRADER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Dent and distinguished members of the subcommittee. It is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss FEMA’s National Exer- cise Program, including the Top Officials 4 full-scale exercise. As you know, Mr. Chairman, exercises provide homeland security officials an opportunity to practice critical prevention and protection response and recovery functions, evaluate the adequacy of existing capabilities, plans, policies and procedures, and test coordination and working relationships before an actual incident occurs. At the same time, exercises and the lessons learned from them allow officials at all levels of government to more effectively target their investments to continue to improve our national preparedness, including planning, training and equipping our emergency re- sponse community. To better organize and synchronize the conduct of exercises across federal, state, local, tribal and the private sectors, the Homeland Security Council, working with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, developed the National Exercise Program. The National Exercise Program provides a framework and assistive tools to ensure that federal, state and local exercises lead to concrete improvements in policy, plans and performance.

The National Exercise Program unifies homeland security preparedness, exercise strategies, and links appropriate department and agency exercises to provide a single comprehensive exercise program. The National Exercise Program also uses a tiered system to differentiate the various types and sizes of exercises, ranging from tier one national-level exercises to other federal exercises under tier two and three, to tier four, which are the state, territorial, local, tribal and private exercises. The tier one national-level exercises focus on government-wide strategies and policies such as administration transition, training, domestic and national disasters, national security and domestic ter- rorism. For example, in the upcoming TOPOFF 4 exercise, approxi- mately 15,000 federal, state, territorial and local officials will participate in a full-scale response to a multi-faceted terrorist threat. TOPOFF 4 is organized around national planning scenario 11, the use of a radiological dispersal device. TOPOFF 4 will include the participation of all appropriate cabinet-level secretaries or their deputies, and the activation of all necessary operations centers to accurately simulate a truly national response to a major terrorist incident."

"In addition to guiding the exercises themselves, the National Exercise Plan also includes two tools to enhance exercise planning at all levels. The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program provides a common language and concepts for designing, developing, conducting and evaluating all national-level federal, state and local exercises. The HSEEP tapes a building-block approach with each cycle of training and exercises, escalating in complexity, scale and subject matter. Detailed guidelines, a website and mobile training courses are also provided to help exercise planners implement HSEEP. Once the exercises are successfully planned and conducted, the Corrective Action Program provides a tool for systematically devel- oping, prioritizing, tracking and analyzing corrective actions for improving exercises. Essentially, the CAP provides a systematic means to prevent recurring problems and identify potential correc- tive actions and lessons learned. Best practices and other informa- tion resulting from the Corrective Action Program are broadly shared through the lessons learned information sharing tool that is online.

The National Exercise Program, Mr. Chairman, is a work in progress. It will only succeed through an ongoing, diligent, and ever-improving contribution of all involved. Departments and agen- cies must continue to input exercise events into the national exercise schedule, continue to adhere to HSEEP and CAP, and be proactive in providing material for the lessons learned system and fully fund their responsibilities within the National Exercise Program. To ensure that all partners fully understand their commitments under the program in advance, we are developing a 5-year exercise schedule. This schedule will enable participants to adequately plan and finance their National Exercise Program responsibilities. In addition, as required under the Post-Katrina Act, we are working to more systematically integrate the regional administrators into our exercises and other preparedness efforts. Future TOPOFF exercises will focus on multiple FEMA regions, and we are working to identify other ways and available assets to enable the FEMA regions to more fully participate in exercise planning and coordination at all levels.

The National Exercise Program structure and FEMA regional involvement will greatly enhance the coordination of exercise priorities across the entire federal government. At the same time, Mr. Chairman, a fully operational National Exercise Program will bring our nation one step closer to achieving a truly organized and unified preparedness exercise strategy. I look forward to working with you and the members of this sub-committee on these critical national preparedness issues. I would be happy now to answer any questions you or the member may have, sir. "

source: practicing like we play: examining homeland security exercises ...

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


Modeling Exercise Drill Simulations: Reproducing Sims

The National Training, Education, and Exercise Division program: Preparing personnel for the future   source: Center for Homeland Defense and Security Naval Postgraduate School


4.2 National Emergency Response FrameWork

"On December 17, 2003, Homeland Security Presidential Direc- tive (HSPD) 8: National Preparedness was issued. HSPD-8 defines preparedness as “the existence of plans, procedures, policies, training, and equipment necessary at the Federal, State, and local level to maximize the ability to prevent, respond to, and recover from major events. The term ‘readiness’ is used interchangeably with preparedness.” HSPD-8 refers to preparedness for major events as “all-hazards preparedness.” It defines major events as “domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.”

"The Department of Homeland Security developed the National Response Plan (NRP) and the Catastrophic Supplement to the NRP and is now encouraging state and local government, private industry, and non-government organizations to achieve a multi- hazards capability as defined in the National Preparedness Goal."

"The NRP provides the structure and mechanisms for the coordination of Federal support to state, local, tribal, and incident managers, and for exercising direct Federal authorities and responsibilities. It assists in the important security mission of preventing ter- rorist attacks within the United States, reducing the vulnerability to all natural and manmade hazards, and minimizing the damage and assisting in the recovery from any type of incident that occurs. The NRP is the core plan for managing domestic inci- dents and details the Federal coordinating structures and processes used during Incidents of National Significance. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) es- tablishes standardized incident management processes, protocols, and procedures that all responders (Federal, state, local, and tribal) will use to coordinate and conduct response actions. With responders using the same standardized procedures, they will all share a common focus, and will be able to place full emphasis on incident management when a homeland security incident occurs, whether a manmade or natural disaster. In addition, national preparedness and readiness in responding to and recovering from an incident is en- hanced because all of the Nation’s emergency teams and authorities are using a common language and set of procedures."

source: emergency management considerations - FEMA.gov


New Jersey joined Connecticut, Canada and Great Britain For A Counterterrorism Exercise

"The state of New Jersey, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, began the planning process 14 months prior to the full-scale exercise."

"On April 4 through 8, 2005, New Jersey joined Connecticut, Canada and Great Britain in what was then the largest counterterrorism exercise ever conducted. Just a quick over—on Saturday, April 2, three sport utility vehicles departed a fictitious bio-laboratory in New Jersey, driven by members of a terrorist organization. These vehicles were targeting New York City. Their attack plan was interrupted and they released it in a region of New Jersey.

This resulted in an outbreak of pneumonic plague, which by Friday, April 8, had spread to every corner of the state. Thirty-thousand people had been infected and over 8,000 died. As you can imagine, the ramifications of this attack were horrific. Our health care delivery system was overwhelmed. The emergency management structure struggled to maintain essential services. The large number of fatalities taxed the ability of our medical examiner’s office. Besides the human toll, the state suffered huge economic losses. The recovery period continued 6 months after the attack and beyond."

"During the planning process, we had monthly meetings with DHS, the support contractors and the state’s planning team. These meetings were mirrored at the county and municipal levels. So what we did at the state and federal level, we mirrored at the county and municipal level."

"Running parallel with the exercising planning effort, DHS sponsored a series of national seminars. These seminars were referred to as ‘‘building block events’’ and brought together nationally re- nowned experts in their fields, along with their state counterparts to focus on topical areas related to the exercise, such as biological terrorism, chemical terrorism, public information, and a national response plan. In addition to these national seminars, each state could, and did, opt to conduct a state-level seminar for their locals. All the planning and the exercise itself did not come without costs. As a participant, each state was required to provide funding for its share of the exercise expenses. A memorandum of agreement was negotiated between DHS and the state of New Jersey. In New Jersey’s case, the state share came from multiple sources. Our Of- fice of Domestic Preparedness grants, UASI funding, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Health Resources and Serv- ices Administration all provided funding for the exercise. Our total budget was $964,000 and change."

"Evaluation—as with any exercise, the evaluation portion is every bit as important as the conduct of the exercise itself. This is the reason we conduct exercises, to expose our shortcomings in a simu- lated environment as opposed to during a real event. The evaluation of all the moving parts of T–3 was a huge logistical challenge. Due to the scope of the exercise, every county, every hospital, every venue had data collectors on-site to capture the actions of the participants in response to the scenario presented to them. These ob- servations were collected, analyzed and compared against existing plans, policies and procedures.

Again running parallel with the federal effort, New Jersey developed an after-action report and a specific improvement action plan which is being implemented at this time."

"Evaluation: As with any exercise, the evaluation portion is every bit as important as the conduct of the exercise itself."

"This is the reason we conduct exercises, is to expose our short comings in a simulated environment as opposed to during a real event. The evaluation of all of the ‘‘moving parts’’ of T–3 was a huge logistical challenge. Due to the scope of the exercise, every county, every hospital, every venue had ‘‘data collectors’’ on site to capture the actions of the participants in response to the events presented by the exercise scenario. These observations were collected, analyzed and compared against the existing plans, policies and procedures of the participants. Again, running parallel with the federal effort, New Jersey developed an after-action report and a specific improvement action plan which is being implemented at this time.

Lessons Learned • Some key lessons learned: The following indications for needed improvement, not coincidentally related to one or several of our Exercise Goals, were revealed in our after-action reviews and are thought to be the most significant. With each I’ve illustrated the steps we are, or have taken to address each area:

• Information Management, we discovered gaps in the information sharing process especially at the federal state level. During the exercise senior New Jersey emergency management planners operated in an information vacuum and decisions were made based on incomplete information. The remediation of this information management gap has been ad- dressed by the development a management system that is con- sistent with HSPD 5. In 2007 we dedicated a Regional Operations Intelligence Center which is staffed with state and federal personnel and is designed to collect, analyze, and fuse intelligence into actionable informa- tion.

• Information Technology collaboration, specifically a review of the various systems of data management / data sharing that are currently operating inde- pendent of each other due to agency and/or organizational specific purposes."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


"A two-part question, again, what were the policy reasons for participation of Canada and Great Britain?"

"Mr. CUELLAR. Okay, we are going to follow up on that question. Let me just ask the second part of this. The subcommittee just recently held a hearing to examine the capabilities of first responders in border communities. What we learned was the local and state governments are exhausting their limited resources to avoid a disaster in border communities. It is my understanding that inter- national partners like Canada and Great Britain were involved in past TOPOFF exercises. A two-part question, again, what were the policy reasons for participation of Canada and Great Britain? And then the second part is, given our close proximity and mutual economic interests with our friends in Mexico and the Caribbean Basin, has the depart- ment considered extending the invitation to participate in this full- scale terrorism-based scenario, especially—I know Canada was in- cluded—but especially with Mexico and the concerns that we have been facing? So it is a two-part question, part A and part B. 

Mr. SCHRADER. Well, let me answer the first part, and then beg your indulgence on the second part. The first part, there was out- reach and there was a lot of volunteer activity in terms of folks coming forward to participate. What I would like to ask is if we could brief you off-line, because we would have to bring some other people to the table to participate in that conversation—if I could ask your indulgence on that.

Mr. CUELLAR. We will do that, but I certainly want the members of the committee to know the policy reasons.

Mr. SCHRADER. Yes, sir.
Mr. CUELLAR. What about the second part?
Mr. SCHRADER. That was the second part. That was the answer
to the second part. I am sorry. Regarding Mexico, if we could do that off-line, I would appreciate that.
Mr. CUELLAR. We would be happy to do that, but I would like
to, when you set that up, I will have the committee come, because I certainly want to have all the members of the committee that want to participate to hear the reasons why.

Mr. SCHRADER. Yes, sir. We would be delighted to do that. I just want to make sure I have the right people involved in that.

Mr. CUELLAR. But you are the person in charge of making those decisions?

Mr. SCHRADER. This is a team effort.
Mr. CUELLAR. But you are the main person?
Mr. SCHRADER. Yes, sir, and I will organize the follow up. I just
want to make sure that the other team members that should be at the table from the interagency are there for that discussion.

Mr. CUELLAR. Sort of a follow on to the two questions asked.
Mr. SCHRADER. Thank you."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


Vigilant Shield

"Mr. SCHRADER: Thank you. To General Saunders, I understand that DOD will be conducting its own exercise called Vigilant Shield, concurrent with the TOPOFF 4 exercise. Can you tell me how these two exercises are going to be coordinated? Why would the DOD conduct its own sepa- rate exercise using the same scenario, rather than participate in TOPOFF 4?

General SAUNDERS: First of all, sir, Vigilant Shield is actually operated by Northern Command, and I don’t mean to defer to somebody else, but I can’t really speak to Vigilant Shield in detail. What I can tell you is that the coordination our folks have been working with, both DHS and Northern Command, to work through the issues of coordination pre-exercise. The other thing I would like to say is that exercises, whether you are at the local level, at the state level, the National Guard unit level, or federal level, are done for a variety of different reasons I think most of the members of the committee would understand. My understanding of how Northern Command does it is to prove some of their concepts and to do some other things. Traditionally, we do exercises to validate training that has been conducted.

So when the National Guard, when I say to you, a National Guard Vigilant Guard exercise, in conjunction with Vigilant Shield, it is entirely likely that General Renuart and his staff out at Northern Command have one set of exercise objectives that are not the same as ours, because we are exercising at different levels for different reasons, and trying to leverage the resources for both through one exercise. My guess would be that that is what they are trying to attempt to do here. I can say with certainty that is what we try to do with Guam and Arizona and Oregon and the participating states on both sides of that. I hope that made sense to you, sir, but that is kind of the response that I can give you at this stage."

source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg48969/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg48969.pdf


"'Full-scale' Homeland Security drill held today at tech school"

"Residents who see emergency vehicles near Limestone Career Technical Center and Brookhill Elementary School should not be alarmed: a drill required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be conducted today. The Athens-Limestone County Emergency Management Agency will conduct the full-scale exercise at 2:45 p.m., after students have left the Tech Center and Brookhill for the day.

“If people see something strange going on, that’s what it is,” she said. The mock “incident” will occur near Sanderfer Road. “We may end up blocking the road.”

Students in the Health and Occupation class at the Tech Center will stay behind after school, ready to participate. The drill will help students learn about emergency response, said Daphne Ellison with the local EMA. “It helps them with their training,” she said.

All agencies in Limestone County will respond to an emergency message that will go out across scanners, including Athens firefighter, emergency medical technicians, Athens police, Limestone County Sheriff’s deputies and EMA officials, Ellison said. Warning sirens, however, will not be used in the drill.

Ellison said the drill is required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when it gives funding to EMAs. “They require this year that we exercise our equipment we purchased” using federal funding, she said. “It’s an exercise to help us exercise our emergency response plans. If we need to change anything to make it work better, we can.”"

source: 'Full-scale' Homeland Security drill held today at tech school | Local ...