Simultaneous Drills in Virginia Test Terror Response
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Dozens of firefighters and police officers descended yesterday on Crystal City, but few people seemed fazed by the rescue vehicles piling up outside Jefferson Plaza One.
Runners jogged by without so much as an inquiring tilt of the head.
Movers unloaded two eighteen-wheelers just feet away without stopping to ask why the emergency crews had arrived.
Even a letter carrier continued his rounds, oblivious to the disruption.
"Typical D.C.," said Steve Snipes, director of management for the military at Jefferson Plaza One.
The scene might have caused a stir just about anywhere else in America. But not in the Washington area, where anti-terrorism drills have become a staple of the urban landscape since Sept. 11, 2001.
Four drills were staged nearly simultaneously -- two in Crystal City, two at the Pentagon -- to hone the region's emergency response capabilities.
Dubbed Gallant Fox III, the exercise was the third such exercise at the Pentagon since Sept. 11.
They enable the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and its federal, state and local response partners to evaluate existing plans and interagency coordination in the face of multiple threats.
As exercises go, this was relatively large. In all, there were about 900 participants, including volunteers provided by the American Red Cross to play the role of victims.
About 11:15 a.m., rescue workers began racing to the high-rise office building in Crystal City for a mock disaster.
The scene was already set: A suspicious vehicle was spotted outside the building, but before managers could completely evacuate, a bomb detonated, killing 450 people inside.