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Cablegate: Tsa Assistant Administrator Grant Visits Prague To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. TSA Assistant Administrator Nicholas
Grant recently visited Prague to discuss the lessons learned
in the simulated terrorist attack on Prague's public
transportation system on September 22. Grant found a
sophisticated and competent emergency response system, but
identified some jurisdictional issues that need to be worked
out between GOCR authorities and the City of Prague. End

2. (U) In the wake of the July terrorist attacks in London,
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek ordered a complete
simulation of a similar attack in Prague in order to assess
and improve Czech capabilities to respond to such an attack.
The simulation took place on September 22 and featured three
nearly simultaneous challenges: a subway bombing, a train
bombing between stations on the outskirts of Prague, and a
suspicious package containing a bomb at a train station in
the city. The simulation took place overnight to minimize
disruption to the city.

3. (SBU) On October 3, TSA Assistant Administrator Grant met
with a national official from the Fire & Rescue Service of
the Czech Ministry of Interior to discuss the simulation.
Deputy Fire Service Director Vaclav Muchna described the
three attack scenarios. The largest was an explosion in a
subway car 41 meters underground. Two hundred passengers were
present, with 15 dead and 39 seriously wounded. All wounds
were graphically depicted using techniques similar to those
used in the motion picture industry. Wounded passengers were
played by medical students to ensure symptoms were simulated
accurately. In the midst of the response to this scenario,
the next attack was announced: authorities learned that a
suspicious package had been found at a train station, forcing
responders to manage an evacuation and a bomb disposal
operation while responding to the initial subway attack. Just
as the national integrated emergency response system brought
extra assets from surrounding regions into the city to
assist, the exercise managers announced the third attack: a
train had exploded in one of the areas just depleted of
responders. Those arriving on the scene found a train car
(which had actually been blown up for the exercise) filled
with 22 "dead" passengers and many more wounded.

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4. (SBU) Assistant Administrator Grant also met with a city
official, Prague Assistant Mayor Michal Kopecky, to discuss
the city's participation in the exercise. Kopecky said that
City Hall officials felt the simulation was not sufficiently
realistic because it did not include much of the
decision-making the city would be responsible for in a real
crisis. He explained that Prague has an emergency response
operations center, which is integrated into several CCTV
systems across the city. In a real crisis, Kopecky claimed,
the city would be in charge, and would be directing the large
scale efforts to engage the public and minimize the impact of
the attacks. (Comment: Fire Service personnel had
acknowledged that these areas were not part of the exercise
plan, but cited the Prime Minister's short three-week
planning cycle for the exercise as the primary reason for
this omission. They indicated that the normal planning cycle
was six months. End comment).

5. (SBU) Lessons learned. The Czech emergency integrated
response system performed well, even when faced with
challenges deliberately designed to undermine it. Fire
Service, Police, and Ambulance units are accustomed to
working together on a daily basis, and the increased tempo of
the exercise did not expose weaknesses in this area. The
national emergency communications system allowed the
emergency services to draw units from regions around Prague
to cover the third train explosion, allowing units that had
been sent into the center of Prague to concentrate all of
their efforts on the task they had been given. The Czech
standard operating procedure for an explosion is to do an
initial sweep for chemical or nuclear material before
allowing medical personnel to enter the area. In each case,
this sweep was completed in about six minutes. The only major
unpredicted outcome was the inability of rescue services to
restart subway station escalators on battery power after
electric power was cut by the explosion. As a result,
rescuers had to carry the wounded to the surface by hand, and
a firefighter suffered a non-fatal heart attack after his
second trip with a stretcher. Assistant Administrator Grant
was impressed with the detailed planning, realism, and
complexity of the exercise, as well as the selection of
problematic mass transit target scenarios. Although the
response was considered a success, the exercise identified a
lack of understanding between national and city officials as
to who would control the response effort in the event of an
actual terror attack in Prague.

6. (SBU) Assistant Administrator Grant believes the lessons
learned from this exercise, as well as similar exercises in
other countries, are useful for improving and developing U.S.
homeland preparedness, response programs, and exercises.
Assistant Administrator Grant is available to discuss his
findings from this visit. He can be contacted by phone at
703-601-3101; or by e-mail at
(classified), or (unclassified). Director
Grant has cleared this cable.

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