Operation Dark Winter was the code name for a senior-level bioterrorist attack simulation conducted at Andrews Air Force Base on June 22–23, 2001. It was designed to carry out a mock version of a covert and widespread smallpox attack on the United States.
The simulation was hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Analytic Services (ANSER) Institute for Homeland Security, and the Oklahoma National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.
Dark Winter was focused on evaluating the inadequacies of a national emergency response during the use of a biological weapon against the American populace. The exercise was intended to establish preventive measures and response strategies by increasing governmental and public awareness of the magnitude and potential of such a threat posed by biological weapons.
Dark Winter's simulated scenario involved an initial localized smallpox attack on Oklahoma City, with additional smallpox attack cases in Georgia and Pennsylvania. The simulation was then designed to spiral out of control. This would create a contingency in which the National Security Council struggles to determine both the origin of the attack as well as deal with containing the spreading virus. Additionally, a predictable 24/7 news cycle quickly developed that focused the nation and the world on the attack and response.
1) An attack on the United States with biological weapons could threaten vital national security interests. 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.
2) Current organizational structures and capabilities are not well suited for the management of a BW attack. Major "fault lines" exist between different levels of government (federal, state, and local), between government and the private sector, among different institutions and agencies, and within the public and private sector. These "disconnects" could impede situational awareness and compromise the ability to limit loss of life, suffering, and economic damage.
3) There is no surge capability in the U.S. healthcare and public health systems, or in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries. This institutionally limited surge capacity could result in hospitals being overwhelmed and becoming inoperable, and it could impede public health agencies' analysis of the scope, source and progress of the epidemic, their ability to educate and reassure the public, and their capacity to limit causalities and the spread of disease.
4) Dealing with the media will be a major immediate challenge for all levels of government. Information management and communication (e.g., dealing with the press effectively, communication with citizens, maintaining the information flows necessary for command and control at all institutional levels) will be a critical element in crisis/consequence management.
5) Should a contagious bioweapon pathogen be used, containing the spread of disease will present significant ethical, political, cultural, operational, and legal challenges. “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
— Major General Smedley Darlington Butler “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” — Major General Smedley Darlington Butler https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/wari...