Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Department of Homeland Security Announces TOPOFF 3

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Department of Homeland Security Announces TOPOFF 3

Article excerpt

The next Congressionally mandated Top Officials (TOPOFF) exercise will take place in April 2005. Exercise scenarios will take place in Connecticut and New Jersey. Additional TOPOFF activities will be conducted in the United Kingdom as part of a partnership with the United States to strengthen security in both nations.

"To make our response system stronger, we have to identify our strengths and weaknesses through challenging scenarios," said Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. "Those scenarios force us to gauge our readiness, test our internal communications, and develop and reinforce relationships across all levels of government and the private sector."

The April 2005 exercises will be the third set in a Congressionally directed, weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) series. The first TOPOFF was conducted in May 2000, and TOPOFF 2 was conducted in May 2003, with exercises taking place in Seattle and Chicago.

The overarching U.S. objectives for TOPOFF 3 are to

* improve the nation's capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security protocols using the Interim National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System;

* identify baseline capabilities and derive consensus performance standards to measure proficiency against a range of probable threats;

* synchronize the TOPOFF exercise series with national goals and objectives;

* improve international coordination and cooperation during WMD terrorist-incident response; and

* assess and strengthen government, nongovernment, and privatesector partnerships to prevent, respond to, and recover from WMD incidents. …

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