Thursday, November 6, 2014

It's all part of the plan, folks...

Government conducts drills for nuclear explosion in NYC
by: J. D. Heyes

Few Americans want to contemplate what a nuclear attack on the country might look like: the damage, the carnage (death in the hundreds of thousands, depending upon where the weapon was detonated) and decades of being unable to re-inhabit Ground Zero.

But because such incidents would be so horrific, U.S government and local law enforcement agencies must anticipate -- and even prepare for -- their eventuality, even while working diligently to protect the nation from such attacks.

With that in mind, New York City recently held training in response to the detonation of a 10-kiloton nuclear device, which "exploded" at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, in crowded Times Square. As reported by The Associated Press and local CBS affiliate WCBS:

According to the exercise, 100,000 people were instantly killed; a wave of overpressure took down buildings for a half-mile radius and did damage for up to two miles; and a radiation cloud swept over the region.

Included in the drill scenario was a closure of subway service accompanied by cellphone service interruptions -- both of which would most likely occur in a real nuclear emergency.

The government practices these drills all the time, but they must know something we don't

In addition to working with each other, local NYC agencies -- fire, police, medical and emergency response centers in the Tri-State area -- also participated with federal agencies.

"We would have to get that message to speak with one voice, with our partners in Connecticut, in Jersey, in the state of New York," Office for Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito told reporters.

In addition, the agency practiced how to get word to New Yorkers and residents of surrounding cities and communities, because a nuclear explosion would likely produce a massive electromagnetic pulse that would immediately destroy electronic communications (and electronic everything else).

"What's the message? Shelter in place, evacuate, seek medical aid. How would we do that? Social media, if it's up and running. We know a lot of this is going to be down for a time period, so we know that a big part of it would be radios," Esposito explained. "The best thing would be portable radios."

NYC officials were quick to point out that such drills are important practice, but they often are not close to being realistic; real circumstances would no doubt be much different, because best-laid plans rarely go according to design. Still, going through such drills does give officials a glimpse of what could go wrong and, better yet, what to do to overcome problems.

Speaking of coincidences, or...

The Department of Homeland Security would coordinate any response to such attacks, and in fact has already established what are known as "fusion centers" around the country. Such centers are used to share intelligence with, train and coordinate with state and local agencies that would be called to respond. The National Guard would also be involved, as would USNORTHCOM -- the Army's Northern Command, which, like DHS, is responsible for homeland security.

However, some past disaster training has taken place on highly controversial or ironic dates:

-- On the day of the 9/11 attacks, "five war games and terror drills were being conducted by several U.S. defense agencies, including one 'live fly' exercise using REAL planes," reports the website "Then-Acting Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Richard B. Myers, admitted to 4 of the war games in congressional testimony" [a transcript is here]. In addition, the site reported, NORAD -- North American Defense command -- had run a number of simulated exercises where hijackers had used aircraft as guided missiles against buildings, just like the 9/11 hijackers did.

-- On the same day of the horrible murder of young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is one of 22 agencies that comprise DHS, held an active shooter drill involving children.

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