21:21 - 29 March, 2005
Terrorism drill to be first test of Homeland Security protocols
The National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System were created to bring dozens of federal and state agencies under one leadership umbrella in case of a terrorist attack.
"We hope we've worked out the glitches," said Col. Robert B. Stephan, special assistant to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Tuesday. "We test drove some of the concepts before we gave them the green light, but on a smaller scale and never all put together before."
The exercise, the world's largest-ever terrorism drill, will begin Monday with a simulated biological weapons attack in New Jersey that overwhelms local hospitals with volunteer victims. Meanwhile, a simulated maritime chemical weapon attack in New London will expose more volunteer victims. The drill will also involve agencies in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Investigators have been picking up simulated "chatter" for the past few days. Officials received a mock report Tuesday that a pair of night-vision goggles had been stolen.
"I want to see if the plan works," said Coast Guard Capt. Peter Boynton, who is based in New Haven. "It'd be a little bittersweet if it turns out parts of our plan aren't right. Nobody likes to find out, 'Hey, this wasn't good. That wasn't good.' But in the larger perspective, that's helpful."
Mike Wolf, FBI special agent in charge of Connecticut, said he wants to see how his agents communicate with other federal agencies. "Communication is the big thing," he said.