August 2, 2004
Virginia to host major homeland defense exercise
By Maj. Cotton Puryear
The Virginia National Guard will join 17 state agencies, 15 local governments and several federal agencies in “Determined Promise 04”, a major homeland defense exercise announced by Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner on Aug. 2. Virginia will be hosting the exercise to test coordination, communication and response to simulated incidents from Aug. 4-10.
The exercise has been planned for over 18 months and is one of a series of regular exercises being conducted by the Department of Defense's Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and will involve agencies from Virginia as well as California. There are seven different fictitious scenarios that will drive local and state agencies to drill on crisis response actions. Several of the scenarios will be simulated “tabletop” exercises, but there will also be “boots on the ground” field training exercises as well.
During the press conference, Warner stressed that the scenarios in the exercise are in no way related to any real-world intelligence about potential terrorism threats. “Citizens should be aware that any news they hear of the Determined Promise exercise incidents around Virginia this week has been in the planning for months, and is no way related to the current elevated terrorism threat at the national level,” Warner said. “This wide-ranging exercise is exactly what government should be doing now to prepare for any terrorist incident.”
There exercise has two main goals. First, it will allow NORTHCOM to test the capabilities of the Department of Defense to work with civilian agencies to guard and defend the United States against a terrorist attack. The second goal is to provide the opportunity to rehearse plans for the military, as well as local, state and federal agencies, to coordinate their crisis response and recovery operations.
Warner said that Virginia’s ability to respond to emergencies has been sharpened by recent events like the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon, the sniper incidents in the Northern Virginia area and recovery after Hurricane Isabel. “But we know that at some point in the future Virginia will experience another emergency or disaster, whether it’s terrorism or Mother Nature,” he said. “We need to be ready. That is why we are doing this exercise.”