The U.S. military has canceled a major field exercise that tests its response to a nuclear attack, angering some officials who say that what is now planned for this month will be a waste of time.
U.S. Northern Command in Colorado withdrew from major participation in this month’s National Level Exercise (NLE), a large-scale drill that tests whether the military and the Department of Homeland Security can work with local governments to respond to an attack or natural disaster.
The exercise was canceled recently after the planned site for a post-nuclear-attack response — Las Vegas — pulled out in November, fearing a negative impact on its struggling business environment.
A government official involved in NLE planning said a new site could not be found. The official also said the Northern Command’s exercise plans for “cooping” — continuity of operations, during which commanders go to off-site locations — also had been scratched.
“All I know is it’s been turned into garbage,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information. “It’s a nonevent.”
The NLE, which is supposed to be a series of hands-on exercises to test the system in the event terrorists use a nuclear device, has become instead a “tabletop exercise at best,” the official said.
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