I have long been a defender of various kinds of exercises included rigorous ones when on active duty including those by the former DASA (Defense Atomic Support Agency) and other military commands, and the AEC. Ironic that I was both lawyer and fact witness for two largest administrative law proceedings in US history, the Shoreham and Seabrook Nuclear Power Stations. Another story another time.
I think it is important in review the recent DHS Secretary memo on exercises to look at the statutory mandates of PKEMA 2006 on exercises. They follow:
"Section 648(b) NATIONAL EXERCISE PROGRAM.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Beginning not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in coordination with the heads of appropriate Federal agencies,
the National Council on Disability, and the National Advisory Council, shall carry out a national exercise program to test and evaluate the national preparedness goal, National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, and other related plans and strategies.
(2) REQUIREMENTS.—The national exercise program—
(A) shall be—
(i) as realistic as practicable, based on current risk assessments, including credible threats,
vulnerabilities, and consequences, and designed to stress the national preparedness system;
(ii) designed, as practicable, to simulate the partial or complete incapacitation of a State, local, or tribal government;
(iii) carried out, as appropriate, with a minimum degree of notice to involved parties regarding the timing and details of such exercises, consistent with safety considerations;
(iv) designed to provide for systematic evaluation of readiness; and
(v) designed to address the unique requirements of populations with special needs; and
(B) shall provide assistance to State, local, and tribal governments with the design, implementation, and evaluation of exercises that—
(i) conform to the requirements under subparagraph (A);
(ii) are consistent with any applicable State, local, or tribal strategy or plan; and
(iii) provide for systematic evaluation of readiness.
(3) NATIONAL LEVEL EXERCISES.—The Administrator shall periodically, but not less than biennially, perform national exercises for the following purposes:
(A) To test and evaluate the capability of Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to detect, disrupt, and prevent threatened or actual catastrophic acts of terrorism, especially those involving weapons of mass destruction.
(B) To test and evaluate the readiness of Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to respond and recover in a coordinated and unified manner to catastrophic incidents.
SEC. 649. COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Administrator, in coordination with the National Council on Disability and the National Advisory Council, shall establish a comprehensive system to assess, on an ongoing basis, the Nation’s prevention capabilities and overall preparedness, including operational readiness.
(b) PERFORMANCE METRICS AND MEASURES.—The Administrator shall ensure that each component of the national preparedness system, National Incident Management System, National Response
Plan, and other related plans and strategies, and the reports required under section 652 is developed, revised, and updated with clear and quantifiable performance metrics, measures, and outcomes.
(c) CONTENTS.—The assessment system established under subsection (a) shall assess—
(1) compliance with the national preparedness system, National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, and other related plans and strategies;
(2) capability levels at the time of assessment against target capability levels defined pursuant to the guidelines established under section 646(a);
(3) resource needs to meet the desired target capability levels defined pursuant to the guidelines established under section 646(a); and
(4) performance of training, exercises, and operations.
SEC. 650. REMEDIAL ACTION MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.
The Administrator, in coordination with the National Council on Disability and the National Advisory Council, shall establish a remedial action management program to—
(1) analyze training, exercises, and real-world events to identify and disseminate lessons learned and best practices;
(2) generate and disseminate, as appropriate, after action reports to participants in exercises and real-world events; and
(3) conduct remedial action tracking and long-term trend
More on exercises to follow!