The most massive text to date of America’s homeland security begins next week.
Federal officials said TOPOFF 2, as the test is being called, is designed to test the response to widely dispersed, almost simultaneous terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction, and to glean from the experience lessons that can be applied in case of the real thing.
The exercise will include simulation of a radioactive “dirty bombing” in Seattle’s central business district and the simulated release of a biological agent in Chicago.
These fictional events are set to unfold over five days beginning May 12 in what federal officials say will be the largest homeland security exercise in U.S. history. The exercise will cost an estimated $16 million and involve more than 100 federal, state and local agencies, the American Red Cross and Canadian government agencies and organizations.
This will be the second homeland security exercise staged by the government. The first occurred in 2000 in Denver and involved a mock germ warfare attack. News accounts at the time described a chaotic response to the fictional event, with government agencies jostling for control while critical decisions were delayed amid 100-person telephone conference calls.