Warren Hosts National Level Exercise

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- A simulated terrorist attack on a 90th Missile Wing ICBM launch facility provided the exercise scenario for Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Exercise 2009.

This national-level exercise involving 11 federal agencies and 1,300 personnel was the largest and most complex exercise ever conducted at a missile base.

Accident response and associated consequent management procedures are routinely practiced by local responders and the 90th Missile Wing; however, this exercise was made far more complex by the criminal aspect associated with terrorist activities.

Close and careful coordination with a number of federal agencies, particularly the FBI, was essential to gather information swiftly to identify and capture the terrorists responsible for the attack.

The exercise challenged responders in several ways. Balancing the need for personnel safety in a potentially hazardous situation while allowing law enforcement officials to gather time critical evidence for criminal response, required a clear understanding of the risks involved.

Minutes counted in determining which terrorist group was responsible and developing courses of action to track and capture them.

As response elements arrived from across the nation, the wing's initial response force transitioned to a response task force with a formal transfer of incident command between the wing commander Col. Mike Morgan, 90th MW commander, and the
Twentieth Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg.

General Burg then led the federal agency response for consequence management along with supporting the FBI in their counter-terrorism mission.

In addition to the FBI, major exercise players included the Department of Energy providing weapon system technical expertise, Homeland Security and FEMA for consequence management, US Northern Command for operational command of the IRF/RTF, the State of Wyoming and the Wyoming Guard for initial response and logistical support, and Air Force Space Command for filling key RTF leadership positions.

"This is the first time the country has brought together military operators with a very robust interagency package," said Exercise Director and Director of Nuclear Support at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Army Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino "This is a complex exercise with many moving parts." "It is critical to make the U.S. military the best in the world," he continued. "And it's not just the extensive training we go through, but it's how we capture the lessons learned from that training. It is an endless, necessary cycle."