The Dark Winter Exercise and the Current Ebola Problem

Dark Winter Offered A Warning

In June of 2001, Johns Hopkins University hosted a Bio-Terror Preparedness Drill known as The Dark Winter Exercise. The effort is described below.

On June 22-23, 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.

This exercise examined what it would be like to lead the United States in the event of a bio-terror attack. It’s the sort of thing that more aspiring politicians should take part in. Being in charge of something like this could cure of the unholy desire to constantly be in charge. However, the exercise offered a bevy of lessons learned that our government could benefit from today in combating the growing threat of Ebola that seems to have arrived in the US of A just in time for Christmas.

The results of the exercise were subjected to an after action review which yielded several findings of varying applicability to our current conundrum. I summarize these below, they can be found in long form at the link I embedded in paragraph 1.

Finding 1) “Massive civilian casualties, breakdown in essential institutions, violation of democratic processes, civil disorder, loss of confidence in government and reduced U.S. strategic flexibility abroad are among the ways a biological attack might compromise U.S. security”

We are seeing the beginnings of the breakdown of institutions, and a loss of confidence in the government. I would argue the number of Ebola infections hasn’t yet reached a high enough count or a wide enough geographic distribution to lead to outright societal panic. This still leaves our civil authorities a window in which they can take necessary and intelligent actions to prevent this from becoming a full-blown disaster for America.

Finding 2) “Current organizational structures and capabilities are not well suited for the management of a BW attack.”

Still true. I thought it might be the case when I posted here. I have come to believe this is the current state of play, as I posted yesterday. This will continue to cause us unnecessary death, but the damage done from our own organizational cowardice and stupidity can be …read more    

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