Case #1815.1

To What End? Re-thinking Terrorist Attack Exercises in San Jose (Sequel, part 1)

Publication Date: November 03, 2005
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This case study tells the story of San Jose, California, one of the first 27 cities in the country to participate in a federal domestic preparedness program. Between 1997 and 1999, a specially created city task force mounted several full-scale terrorist attack exercises, but--despite the best of intentions--found all of them frustrating, demoralizing, and divisive, creating ill will between the exercise planners and the first responders. In response, the San Jose task force took a step back and analyzed their situation. In place of traditional full-scale exercises, San Jose drew on several existing prototypes to create a new facilitated exercise model that emphasized teaching over testing, and was much better received by first responders. For teaching flexibility, the case has been divided into three parts. Sequel 1 is a continuation of the main case study (1815.0) and is designed to be read in the middle of class. It describes the new facilitated exercise model in brief. Students could then be asked to assess the approach taken by San Jose.

Learning Objective:
The main case describes San Jose's early experience, ending at a crucial moment, when the task force was forced to face the fact that its approach was not working. It is designed to spark a class discussion about what seems to be going awry, and how the problems might be solved.

Other Details

Case Author:
Pamela Varley
Faculty Lead:
Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention