Inside the Pentagon reports today (by subscription only) on an upcoming DOD-led simulation that will test military support capabilities for response to a catastrophic terrorist attack (in this case, a nuclear attack against Charleston, SC):
The military’s Joint Task Force-Civil Support, headquartered at Ft. Monroe, VA, will host a three-day exercise for commanders of its subordinate units, as well as representatives of other federal agencies that would be involved in managing the consequences of a 10-megaton nuclear blast, enough to inflict mass causalities and devastation on an American city.
Like last summer’s exercise, the Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 event, generically called a “commanders conference,” is centered around a fictional blast that affects nearly half a million people across a 900-square mile section of tidewater South Carolina. The scenario posits 10,000 fatalities and more than 30,000 injuries.
Participants last year were focused on working through nuclear-incident response protocols within the task force. This time around, the aim is to continue honing internal command-and-control actions, while giving military commanders opportunities to interact with representatives of other federal agencies, according to a task force official.
The article goes on to note that DHS officials will be in attendance at the simulation, describes the purpose of the simulation, and offers background context on the threat.
This issue of military support for civilian incident response is a topic that is likely to arise in the final reports of the Katrina investigations in Congress, as noted in this post from last month. If the simulation is realistic and not overly predictable, then this kind of activity can make a real contribution to improving DOD’s capabilities in this area.
For more on this issue, see DOD’s June 2005 Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support.