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Canada to play response roles in mock attacks against U.S.

Globe & Mail | March 18, 2005
By JEFF SALLOT

OTTAWA -- Canadian cabinet ministers and other senior officials have agreed to participate next month in the largest homeland security exercise ever conducted by the United States, a simulation of two simultaneous anthrax attacks.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made the announcement here yesterday, saying Canadian participation is important to test the protocols and procedures the two countries have put in place in the four years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, who is expected to be one of the ministers involved in the five-day exercise, said the simulation should demonstrate that Canada can significantly help the Americans deal quickly with the consequences of a terrorist attack.

From Canada's point of view, the scenario involves how Canadian agencies might respond to U.S. calls for emergency medical, military and law-enforcement assistance after biological weapons attacks in New Jersey and Connecticut.

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The exercise, dubbed Top Off because it involves top officials, will run from April 4 to April 8. It is designed to "put pressure and stress on [emergency response] systems to the point of failure," Mr. Chertoff said, comparing it to the extreme conditions aircraft undergo in tests before safety certification.

Mr. Chertoff said he wanted to make the announcement in Canada, on his first foreign trip since his appointment in February, because the United States counts on Canada as a dependable neighbour that demonstrated its willingness to help after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The new Homeland Security chief did not respond directly to a question at a joint news conference about whether he shares U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's concerns that terrorists regularly try to infiltrate the United States from Canada and Mexico.

Instead, Mr. Chertoff said terrorists try to get into the United States and Canada "by a variety of methods, using air, sea and land. We would be making a big mistake if we focus on one point of entry as opposed to others."

The three countries are all trying to secure their borders in a broad effort to prevent terrorism, he added.

Border security will be a major topic of discussion when President George W. Bush meets Prime Minister Paul Martin and Mexican President Vicente Fox in Texas next week.

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McLellan said the summit will be about "making sure that we are all doing what we can to protect our borders, while also allowing for the free flow of goods and services and easing the flow of people among our borders."

Mexican and Canadian officials fear catastrophic economic consequences if another terrorist attack in the United States closed U.S. borders for any length of time.

Canadian diplomats in the United States say they often have to correct the misconception that some of the Sept. 11 terrorists infiltrated across the Canadian border.

The homeland security exercise next month will involve about 10,000 people at various levels of government in the United States. About 200 Canadian federal and provincial emergency-response officials will also be involved. The British government is also participating.

The Canadian portion of the exercise involves senior decision-makers at various agencies working from crisis centres.


Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at a Joint Press Conference with Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan

US Department of Homeland Security | March 17, 2005
Office of the Press Secretary

(Remarks as Prepared)

Thank you for those kind remarks Deputy Prime Minister McLellan. It’s wonderful to be with you here in Ottawa, and I look forward to extending the strong bonds of partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and Canada established by Secretary Ridge. Also on the behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, the entire U.S. government and the American people, our hearts go out to the family and colleagues on the recent loss of four Royal Mounted Police Officers.

Through our collaboration with Canada, we are making significant progress toward a more secure North America. We have strengthened our shared border security through the Smart Border Action Plan – keeping terrorists out while facilitating the free flow of legitimate commerce and people.  

The United States learned on September 11th, 2001 that neither oceans, nor the innocence of men, women and children simply going about their daily lives, prevented terrorists from attacking our country and killing almost 3,000 people. And just last week, March 11th, Spain observed a national day of mourning to mark the one year anniversary of the Madrid train bombings where 191 people riding the subway were slaughtered. We mourn with them. And we all vow that we will do whatever it takes to prevent another 9/11 or 3/11 - from ever occurring again. These attacks remind us that all our countries are at risk, that terrorism is a global and far-reaching enemy. And to eradicate this threat will take the strong bonds of partnership as we continue our work together to confront this, the great challenge of our time.

So I am extremely pleased that both Canada and Great Britain are participating in the upcoming international full-scale exercise we are announcing today. In the United States we call it Top Officials 3, or TOPOFF 3. Here you call it TRIPLE PLAY, and in the United Kingdom they call it ATLANTIC BLUE. Whatever we call it, it highlights how our countries are working together to prevent, prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks. In addition, we have 13 other countries, including Mexico, participating as observers, making this exercise truly a learning opportunity for many friends and allies. I am also looking forward to the exercise as a great learning experience for me.

TOPOFF 3, taking place from April 4th through April 8th, puts plans and policy to the test. It simulates what might happen in a real-world situation so we can improve and refine our emergency plans and procedures. It stresses our preparedness systems so we can determine our weaknesses now and correct them for the future. We will intentionally push our programs to the point of failure, so we can bring to the surface difficult policy and operational issues. We do this to prepare for events we hope never come – for threats that are real and deadly serious. There’s no question that our coordination, precision and practice today will save lives tomorrow, perhaps thousands of lives, if our nations are ever again attacked by terrorists.

The TOPOFF 3 exercise is the third of its kind we have held in the United States. We learned a great deal about all aspects of our readiness during the first two TOPOFF drills. And we will surely learn many things during the upcoming staged events – mainly, how to test plans, skills, and coordination in a real-time, realistic environment and gain the perspective that only experience can provide. We must continue to learn from each other and cooperate and collaborate – to meet the daunting challenges before us.

Thank you.


Department of Homeland Security Announces Partnership with U.K. and Canada for Counter-Terrorism Exercise

CNW Telbec | March 17, 2005

TOPOFF 3
WASHINGTON, DC, // - The U.S. Department of Homeland
Security today announced that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada
will cooperate in conduct of TOPOFF 3, a Congressionally-mandated counter-
terrorism exercise for top officials. DHS will conduct the TOPOFF 3 full scale
exercise in April 2005, with terrorist attack scenarios staged in Connecticut
and New Jersey. Additional activities will occur in related exercises within
the United Kingdom (Atlantic Blue) and Canada (TRIPLE PLAY).
"The TOPOFF exercises are a key piece of the United States homeland
security national preparedness efforts. By responding realistically to
simulated attacks, we are able to identify our strengths and weaknesses and
make our national response system stronger," said Secretary of Homeland
Security Michael Chertoff. "Our partnerships with the U.K. and Canada will
further enhance our ability to deal with terrorism on an international level."
"Our participation is another example of our ongoing commitment to
working closely with the United States and international allies such as the
U.K. to strengthen our ability to deal with international terrorism and its
consequences - key objectives of Canada's National Security Policy and the
Smart Border Declaration," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public
Safety and Emergency Preparedness the Honourable Anne McLellan.
"The threat from international terrorism remains real and serious, and is
a worldwide concern. It is vital we make every effort to enhance and develop
our resilience to this threat by working closely with our international
colleagues. Exercise Atlantic Blue provides an excellent opportunity to do
just this, through sharing best practice on emergency planning and response
procedures," said Hazel Blears, U.K. Minister with responsibility for Counter
Terrorism and Resilience.
The U.S. TOPOFF 3 exercise is the third of the congressionally directed,
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) national exercise series. The first was
conducted in May 2000, and TOPOFF 2 was hosted in May 2003 with simulated
attacks in Seattle and Chicago.
Previous TOPOFF exercises have allowed the Federal government to test new
response plans with State, local, and international partners. TOPOFF 2 was the
first exercise of the newly formed DHS, the first exercise of the Principal
Federal Official (this concept was subsequently incorporated into the National
Response Plan), and the first test of an elevation of the National Threat
Condition to RED. The lessons from previous TOPOFF exercises have also helped
shape the national preparedness strategy, which calls for development of an
integrated Federal-state-local capability of prevention, preparedness,
response, and recovery for extreme events, including terrorism.
To meet the shared international objectives, the TOPOFF 3 full-scale
exercise focuses on four critical areas:
- Incident management: To test the full range of existing procedures
for domestic incident management of a terrorist event and improve,
through practice, top officials' capabilities in affected countries
to respond in partnership
- Intelligence/investigation: To test the handling and flow of
operational and time-critical intelligence
- Public information: To practice strategic coordination of media
relations and public information following a linked incident
- Evaluation: To identify lessons learned and promote best practices

TOPOFF 3: Exercising National Preparedness

Top Officials 3 (TOPOFF 3) is the most comprehensive terrorism response
exercise ever conducted in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of State and Local Government Coordination
and Preparedness (SLGCP), TOPOFF 3 is the third exercise in the TOPOFF
Exercise Series, a congressionally mandated exercise program. The exercise is
designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to prevent, protect against,
respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass
destruction (WMDs). Joining DHS and other federal agencies in this important
effort are the states of Connecticut and New Jersey, as well as two
international partners, the United Kingdom and Canada. These countries will
conduct simultaneous, related exercises.

A Weeklong Full-Scale Exercise

The TOPOFF 3 Full-Scale Exercise (T3 FSE), which will take place from
April 4-8, 2005, is the culmination of a two-year cycle of seminars, planning
events, and exercises. The exercise will involve more than 10,000 participants
representing more than 200 federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and
international agencies and organizations, as well as volunteer groups.
In the United States, participants will respond to attacks in Connecticut
and New Jersey. Simulated terrorist incidents will originate in New London,
Connecticut (chemical incident) and Union and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey
(biological incident). Real weapons will not be used, yet the response will be
mounted as if they had been. Numerous federal departments and agencies will
actively participate, providing a first opportunity to validate the recently
released National Response Plan, and to exercise protocols of the National
Incident Management System. As the full international dimensions of the
simulated crisis are revealed, related exercises will take place in the United
Kingdom (Atlantic Blue) and Canada (TRIPLE PLAY). Planners from all three
countries have collaborated in the exercise design to achieve shared
objectives.

Meeting Crucial Preparedness Objectives

To meet these shared objectives, the T3 FSE focuses on four critical
areas:
- Incident management: To test the full range of existing procedures
for domestic incident management of a terrorist event and improve,
through practice, top officials' capabilities in affected countries
to respond in partnership.
- Intelligence/investigation: To test the handling and flow of
operational and time-critical intelligence.
- Public information: To practice strategic coordination of media
relations and public information issues in response to linked
terrorist incidents.
- Evaluation: To identify lessons learned and promote best practices.

Challenging the Entire Homeland Security System

Exercises such as TOPOFF are an important component of national
preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, local, tribal,
and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks on the homeland,
and rapidly and effectively respond to and recover from any terrorist attack
or major disaster that does occur.
The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test
their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the
in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will also
exercise intelligence gathering, which is critical to preventing terrorist
attacks.
Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide
future planning for securing the nation against terrorist events.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
T3: Building From Past TOPOFF Exercises and the Events of September 11,
2001

The TOPOFF 3 Full-Scale Exercise extends the learning derived from
earlier TOPOFF exercises and 9-11 in several ways:
- Increases international and private sector participation in
prevention and investigation.
- Emphasizes terrorism prevention - an opportunity to piece together
an intelligence puzzle and "capture" the enemy before the attack
occurs.
- Emphasizes risk communication and public information - participants
will explore approaches to public communications in times of high
public anxiety and confusion.
- Focuses on long-term recovery and remediation issues.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Scenario

T3 FSE begins as terrorists, planning attacks in the New York and Boston
metropolitan areas, suspect their plans are compromised. They react by
accelerating their original schedule, deploying a vehicle-based biological
agent dispersal device in New Jersey. Seriously ill patients begin to
overwhelm local hospitals. As the scenario unfolds, every county in New Jersey
will need a Point of Dispensing (POD) for antibiotics. Meanwhile, the chemical
weapon attack originally planned for Boston is also accelerated and executed
in New London, Connecticut, augmented with a vehicle-based improvised
explosive device.
Issues to be addressed include public health and safety, contamination,
criminal investigation, and patient care. As the events continue, federal
agencies implement the National Response Plan, and international aspects of
play emerge.

TOPOFF 3: Exercising International Preparedness

Global terrorism knows no boundaries. To prevent terrorism, and to
respond effectively if an incident does occur, international cooperation is
essential. Recognizing this important need, the United States, the United
Kingdom and Canada are participating in interrelated exercises that develop an
internationally streamlined and coordinated response to a series of simulated
terrorist incidents.
The three interrelated exercises will all take place during the first
week of April: TOPOFF 3 in the United States, Atlantic Blue in the United
Kingdom, and TRIPLE PLAY in Canada. Together, the exercises offer a realistic
test of the three nations' framework for collaboration and communication.

Working Toward Shared Objectives

The United States, Canada, and the U.K. have worked together throughout a
two-year planning process to achieve shared objectives in four key areas:
- Incident management: To test the full range of existing procedures
for domestic incident management of a terrorist event and improve,
through practice, top officials' capabilities in affected countries
to respond in partnership.
- Intelligence/investigation: To test the handling and flow of
operational and time-critical intelligence.
- Public information: To practice strategic coordination of media
relations and public information issues in response to linked
terrorist incidents.
- Evaluation: To identify lessons learned and promote best practices.

UK Participation: Atlantic Blue

The U.K. will be involved in TOPOFF 3 through exercise 'Atlantic Blue',
which will be played at command post exercise (CPX) level only. This will
allow the U.K. to focus specifically on communication across international
borders at a strategic level and test simultaneous responses to linked
terrorist incidents in the U.K., U.S., and Canada.
The Metropolitan Police Service is the host force for the U.K. working
closely with the Home Office and other government departments and London
agencies on planning and delivery. Atlantic Blue provides the U.K. an
invaluable opportunity to enhance their well-established domestic exercise
program by working with their U.S. and Canadian counterparts to test their
capability to respond to the specific challenges of an international terrorist
incident.
Training exercises are a vital part of counterterrorism, as they ensure
preparedness for response to any kind of terrorist attack and confirm
counterterrorism arrangements are tried and tested. As with all exercises, the
lessons learned from Atlantic Blue will be incorporated into future
contingency planning. It is important to emphasize that this exercise has been
planned and designed to enhance international emergency preparedness and in no
way reflects a specific threat to any of the participating nations.

Canada Participation: TRIPLE PLAY

Canada will be involved with TOPOFF 3 through TRIPLE PLAY, which will
exercise, test, and validate protocols and procedures that support and are
used by select Federal and Provincial top officials in response to a terrorist
event. Spanning a timetable of several months, TRIPLE PLAY involves a series
of training sessions, seminars and tabletop exercises of increasing complexity
to build and gauge participants' growing knowledge and experience. It begins
with the command post exercise that will assess Canada's ability to put the
National Emergency Response System into effect to act quickly and decisively
in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency. Following the exercise
in April, Canada will conclude the TRIPLE PLAY exercise with Canada's first
Large Scale Game to review response actions and their relationship to after-
action initiatives and recovery policy development.
The Government of Canada is committed to working closely with other
countries to strengthen their ability to deal with any form of terrorism and
its consequences. Canada's National Security Policy identifies the development
of an exercise program as a priority, committing the government to "regular
national and international exercises involving civilian and military resources
to assess the adequacy of the national system against various emergency
scenarios." In addition, Canada has made commitments under the 1999 Canada-
U.S. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Guidelines and
Smart Border Accord to engage with the U.S. in joint counter terrorism
training activities, including exercises.
In keeping with its mandate to demonstrate leadership in national
security and emergency preparedness, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Canada is leading the planning for TRIPLE PLAY. This effort is being supported
by a working group with representatives from 19 federal departments and
agencies.

BACKGROUNDER

TRIPLE PLAY

The Government of Canada is committed to working closely with other
countries to strengthen our ability to deal with any form of terrorism and its
consequences.
In keeping with this commitment, 19 federal departments and agencies and
the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will participate in a joint
Canada-U.S.-U.K. counter terrorism exercise in April 2005. This weeklong
international exercise will provide unique opportunities to test our response
plans and further enhance our joint response capabilities. TRIPLE PLAY is the
name of the Canadian part of this exercise. The American component is called
TOPOFF 3. In the U.K., it is Atlantic Blue.
TRIPLE PLAY, which spans a timetable of several months, involves a series
of training sessions, seminars and tabletop exercises of increasing complexity
to build and gauge participants' growing knowledge and experience. The
culmination of TRIPLE PLAY is a "command post" exercise spanning several days
that will assess Canada's ability to put the National Emergency Response
System into effect to act quickly and decisively in the event of a terrorist
attack or other emergency.
The exercise in April will involve responding to the consequences of a
major attack in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. The objectives of the
international effort will be:
- To give senior decision makers in each country the opportunity to
exercise their responsibilities in the context of a wide-spread
terrorist incident;
- To practice coordination of strategic public communications at an
international level; and
- To evaluate and test timely information exchange of classified
intelligence and operational information between Canada, the U.S.
and the U.K.

The Canadian component, TRIPLE PLAY, will be a "command post exercise",
which means that instead of deploying emergency services, movement of
resources will be simulated. Canada will exercise, test and validate protocols
and procedures that support and are used by top officials in response to a
terrorist event. The exercise will engage officials at all levels of the
federal government and senior officials from the governments of Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick.
The TRIPLE PLAY scenario is written by a team experienced in exercise
design and is purely fictional. The scenario is plausible and is designed to
test both domestic and international responses to terrorist incidents.
In keeping with its mandate to demonstrate leadership in national
security and emergency preparedness, PSEPC is leading the planning for TRIPLE
PLAY.

The TOPOFF series of exercises:

The TOPOFF exercise series is mandated by U.S. congress. TOPOFF 3 is the
third of the congressionally directed, weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
national exercise series.
TOPOFF has become an international activity, however the first TOPOFF was
a U.S. domestic exercise held in May 2000. The exercise involved federal,
state, and local authorities and responders in full-scale simulations of
chemical, biological, and radiological attacks.
In TOPOFF 2, Canada participated in both the lead-up seminars and the
full-scale exercise in May 2003.
TOPOFF 3 has seen the international component grow to include the U.K.'s
Atlantic Blue exercise and Canada's TRIPLE PLAY exercise.

For further information:

Alex Swann Media Relations
Director of Communications Public Safety and Emergency
Office of the Honourable Anne McLellan Preparedness Canada
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of (613) 991-0657
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
(613) 991-2863

Cette fiche d'information est aussi disponible en français.

BACKGROUNDER

CANADIAN NATIONAL EXERCISE PROGRAM

Today's increasingly complex threat environment, which includes natural
hazards, health threats and potential terrorist attacks utilizing weapons of
mass destruction, demands an exercise program that addresses both crisis and
consequence management in order to reflect the "all-hazards" approach.
Any Canadian response to an incident depends upon the capabilities and
skill-sets of many different organizations and, to an extraordinary degree, on
interagency and intergovernmental coordination and cooperation.
The requirement to work interdepartmentally and cross-jurisdictionally is
clearly recognized by practitioners, and regardless of the level of government
originating any exercise initiative, exercises are becoming more complex with
larger numbers of participants representing key stakeholders.
The development of an exercise program is identified in Canada's National
Security Policy as a priority, committing the Government of Canada to stage
"regular national and international exercises involving civilian and military
resources to assess the adequacy of the national system against various
emergency scenarios." To support this commitment, the 2005 federal budget
allocated $4 million to the exercise program over the next two years.
In addition, Canada has made commitments under the 1999 Canada-U.S.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Guidelines and Point 30
of the Smart Border Declaration to engage with the U.S. in joint counter-
terrorism training activities, including exercises. Canada's continued
participation in the TOPOFF series of American exercises demonstrates our
fulfilment of these commitments.
The National Exercise Division has been established within the
Preparedness and Recovery Directorate of the Emergency Management and National
Security Branch of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and is
developing a National Exercise Program (NEP).
The Division is working with domestic partners in the development,
implementation and delivery of the NEP; leading and coordinating participation
in multi-jurisdictional domestic and international exercises; and establishing
an "exercise business cycle" that ensures best practices and lessons learned
are accessible to partners and are subsequently used to inform the improvement
of emergency response processes, procedures and policy.
The development of the NEP will require unprecedented cooperation on
trans-Canada and trans-national levels to ensure that national objectives are
met, resources are used effectively, and response capabilities are advanced as
a result of lessons learned. Early in 2005, the National Exercises Division
will be seeking provincial and territorial input towards a phased development
of key dimensions of the NEP, including the preferred method of consultation,
timing of same and key products to support the program.

For further information:

Alex Swann Media Relations
Director of Communications Public Safety and Emergency
Office of the Honourable Anne McLellan Preparedness Canada
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of (613) 991-0657
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
(613) 991-2863

Cette fiche d'information est aussi disponible en français.
For further information: Department of Homeland Security, Public
Affairs, (202) 282-8010; Media Relations, Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness Canada, (613) 991-0657; United Kingdom, Home Office Newsdesk,
+44207 035 4381

 

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to announce joint participation in an international counterterrorism exercise

Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Canada | March 16, 2005

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will announce details of Canada 's and the United States ’ joint participation in an international counterterrorism exercise. Following the announcement, there will be a media technical briefing on counterterrorism exercises.

In order to attend the event, journalists are required to register 30 minutes in advance for security screening. They must present photo identification or an assignment letter from their editor at the time of registration.

DATE

March 17, 2005

TIME

2:00 - Media availability
A technical briefing will follow.

LOCATION  
Drawing Room, Fairmont Château Laurier
1 Rideau Street , Ottawa , Ontario

INFORMATION:

Alex Swann
Director of Communications
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
(613) 991-2863

Media Relations
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
(613) 991-0657


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