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Exercise Vibrant Response 13-2 Simulates Terrorist Nuclear Attacks

Whether prescient or just a matter of coincident timing, at exactly the same time that the alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack of August 21 was gaining global awareness, the Department of Defense (DoD) was wrapping up its own event designed to exercise a “whole of government” response to a weapons of mass destruction attack. While the U.S. exercise, dubbed “Vibrant Response 13-2,” envisioned a post-attack response to a terrorist nuclear event – two 5 kiloton nuclear devices detonated in a mid-American city – it brought together many of the same elements that would respond to a chemical attack.

As described by U.S. Army North representatives, the exercise was designed to confirm the operational and tactical capabilities of elements of DoD’s CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear] response enterprise. The event, which was held at the massive Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex (MUTC) in Indiana and other sites scattered across southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, provided the largest confirmation exercise to date for DoD’s specialized response forces (9,000+ personnel training from all services, including Active, Reserve, and National Guard components).

The event provided training for units from approximately two dozen states and territories, including Army elements that will formally assume an additional CBRN response mission on October 1 of this year.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...