Anti-terror exercise unrelated to threat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Staff Report

On the heels of the heightened national terrorist threat level, Virginia will host a counter-terrorism exercise, which involves

Suffolk and other cities throughout the region, Governor Mark R. Warner announced on Monday.


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Warner emphasized, however, that the exercise is in no way related to the Homeland Security alert.

&uot;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,&uot; said Warner &uot;and is in no way related to the current elevated terrorism threat level at the national level.

But this wide-ranging exercise is exactly what government should be doing now to prepare for any terrorist incident.&uot;

The Suffolk Police Department is one of the numerous law enforcement agencies that remain on guard.

&uot;The department continues to operate at a heightened state of alert,&uot; said Suffolk Police spokeswoman Lt. Debbie George. &uot;The fact that the threat level has been elevated in other areas does help to keep us focused and

remain vigilant in our efforts.&uot;

&uot;Determined Promise 04&uot; begins Wednesday, Aug. 4-Aug. 10. The federally sponsored exercise is part of a regular series conducted by the United States Department of Defense’s Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and will involve nearly 4,200 local, state and federal personnel.

Seventeen state agencies and 15 local governments will participate in the exercise, along with several hospitals and federal military and civilian agencies, including the FBI and the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, including the United States Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

&uot;The 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the sniper incidents, and our experience with Hurricane Isabel last fall have sharpened our abilities to respond to emergencies,&uot; Warner said. &uot;But we know that at some point in the future Virginia will experience another emergency or disaster, whether it’s terrorism or Mother Nature.&uot;

The exercise will have two primary goals: It will allow NORTHCOM to test Department of Defense capabilities to work with other civilian agencies to guard and defend the nation against attack.

It also will provide the opportunity to rehearse plans for local, state and federal agencies, including the military, to coordinate crisis response and recovery operations under a variety of scenarios.

Meanwhile, Warner also announced on Monday that Virginia and Maryland are taking a series of steps in response to actions by the Department of Homeland Security to raise the threat level to orange or &uot;high&uot; for the financial services sector in Washington D.C., New York city, and northern New Jersey.

But the treat level will not be raised at the state level in Maryland and Virginia because of the specificity of the threat information.