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Topoff 4 Homeland Security Dirty Bomb Exercise Begins



NationalTerrorAlert.com is in Arizona and we will be covering the Department of Homeland Security Topoff 4 exercise all week.

Update: The first briefing is today 10/16/07 at 11:00am.

This overview from DHS will kick things off.

Topoff 4 Full Scale Exercise

A Rigorous Full-Scale Response to a Coordinated Attack

The Topoff 4 Full Scale Exercise takes place October 15-19, 2007, it 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.

As in a real-world response, agencies and organizations will deploy staff into the field and will face realistic incident-specific challenges, including the allocation of limited response resources and exercise actions needed to effectively manage conditions as they emerge. Planning and preparation for the exercise will also help strengthen working relationships between departments and agencies that are critical to successful prevention and response in real emergencies.


Extensive National Participation

The TOPOFF 4 Full-Scale Exercise will involve more than 15,000 participants representing federal, state, territorial, and local entities. For the first time, a U.S. Territory, Guam, will participate in the TOPOFF series, providing an opportunity to practice coordinated prevention and response activities between the continental U.S. and a U.S. territory. At the Federal level, exercise play will be marked by the coordinated participation of multiple agencies and departments. For example, in addition to response, DHS will be exercising prevention through its Terrorism Prevention Exercise Program (TPEP).

In the weeks leading up to the full-scale exercise, law enforcement and intelligence community players have been active in information gathering, intelligence analysis, and information sharing capabilities that help to thwart terrorist activities. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will mobilize around emerging public health issues related to a radiological emergency, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) will run concurrent exercises to address global terror threats.

Exercise Scenario

The TOPOFF 4 Full-Scale Exercise is based on National Planning Scenario 11 (NPS-11). The scenario begins as terrorists, who have been planning attacks in Oregon, Arizona, and the U.S. Territory of Guam, successfully bring radioactive material into the United States. The first of three coordinated attacks occurs in Guam, with the simulated detonation of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” causing casualties and wide-spread contamination in a populous area near a power plant. Similar attacks occur in the hours that follow in Portland and Phoenix.

An RDD is not the same as a nuclear attack. It is a conventional explosive that, upon detonation, releases radioactive material into the surrounding area. Although it does not cause the type of catastrophic damage associated with a nuclear detonation, there are severe rescue, health, and long-term decontamination concerns associated with an RDD. Real weapons will not be used in the scenario, but the response will be mounted as if they had been.

Department of Homeland Security

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