| 06.26.2006 | 07:22:35 | Views: 3743 | ID:
June 26 '06: The annual TOPOFF exercises were completed last week according to the Department of Homeland Security. The exercises, designed to have several federal agencies working together to simulate a terrorist attack or natural disaster, operate within the guidelines of the National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). DHS Undersecretary for Preparedness George Foresman said the the fourth TOPOFF exercise "provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen the nation's capacity for effective, coordinated action to address terrorist threats and major disasters."
The NRP was finalized in May, 2006. Additional changes to the plan were announced later in June by the White House, however, the essential framework of the plan allows for the integration of state and local responder agencies to work within a national construct. "The plan incorporates best practices and procedures from incident management disciplines," like homeland security, law enforcement and emergency management.The NRP "forms the basis of how the federal government coordinates with state, local and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents." The TOPOFF exercises help federal officials see how well the NRP is working within a federal response. In a perfect situation, federal responder agencies would be able to communicate to state and local officials through NIMS, which was designed "so responders from different responders from different jurisdictions can work together better to respond to natural disasters and emergencies." According to Washington Technology News, the TOPOFF exercises were held on the West Coast while a simultaneous incident was to occur in Washington DC. During the exercise, according to DHS, more than 4,000 federal, state, local and tribal senior officials worked from 85 different organizations. Foresman said the exercise, which took two years to plan, "allows us to identify gaps in our plans and capabilities that can be proactively addressed to ensure that the country is bettered prepared for a real-world event. ... The exercise is a real-time test of our planning communications, and interagency decision-making capabilities during a crisis."
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