Operation Dark Winter
(MediaMonarchy) – On June 22-23, 2001, just under 3 months before 9/11, the U.S. military held a senior-level war game at Andrews Air Force Base called Dark Winter. The scenario of this bio-terrorism drill was designed to simulate a smallpox attack in three states in which one of these states would be Pennsylvania.As a part of this war game, scripted TV news clips were made to help make this drill as realistic as possible.
This exercise was made possible by grant funding from The McCormick Tribune Foundation and The Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. On 22-23 June, 2001, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention Terrorism, hosted a senior-level war game examining the national security, intergovernmental, and information challenges of a biological attack on the American homeland. With tensions rising in the Taiwan Straits, and a major crisis developing in Southwest Asia, a smallpox outbreak was confirmed by the CDC in Oklahoma City. During the thirteen days of the game, the disease spread to 25 states and 15 other countries. Fourteen participants and 60 observers witnessed terrorism/warfare in slow motion. Discussions, debates (some rather heated) and decisions focused on the public health response, lack of an adequate supply of smallpox vaccine, roles and missions of federal and state governments, civil liberties associated with quarantine and isolation, the role of DoD, and potential military responses to the anonymous attack. Additionally, a predictable 24/7 news cycle quickly developed that focused the nation and the world on the attack and response. Five representatives from the national press corps (including print and broadcast) participated in the game, including a lengthy press conference with the President. Several articles and reports will be produced in the coming weeks and months. Additionally, at least one Congressional hearing will be conducted to explore the lessons learned by the key participants. The first hearing is scheduled for the week of 22 July with the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations (Congressman Shays, Chairman).