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U.S. Department of Homeland Security  

Department of Homeland Security Announces Partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada for TOPOFF 3

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010
March 17, 2005

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 counterterrorism 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 United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom 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 Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness 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