North Central Texas Council of Governments BigX 2016 Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) Functional and Full-Scale Exercise


April 2016 – January 2017


Tonda Henry

North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)

P.O. Box 5888, Arlington, Texas 765005-5888

Phone: 817-695-9291





Initial Budget: $355,000 Final Expenditures: $395,000 (increase in scope)


The Olson Group, Ltd. (OGL) led the design, development, and conduct of BigX, 2016, a three-day CCTA oriented functional and full-scale exercise for the NCTCOG on behalf of its 240 local government members comprised of cities, counties, independent school districts, and special districts throughout the North Central Texas region. The region encompasses the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Urban Area Tier I UASI, home to two Federal USAR teams, and represents the 12th largest global metropolitan economy in the world. 3500 Emergency Management, SWAT, EOD, HazMat, USAR, Wildland Fire, CERT, Public Health, Hospital, Public Information, Communications, and Non-Government participants from 4 Federal Agencies, 3 state agencies, 45 local jurisdictions, 8 regional organizations, and 7 private sector entities participated in the three-day exercise.

Functional exercises (FEs) were conducted at eleven (11) emergency operations centers, which coordinated the region’s response to events surrounding a Parris-style terrorist attack across the region. Stakeholder agencies requested the addition of a tornado outbreak scenario, to add further response complexity and reduce available mutual aid resources.

The full-scale exercise (FSE) element encompassed 41 scenarios at 36 locations.

  • Four fixed sites supported FSE play for the two-day Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) components, plus 2 Wildland Fire locations, and 1 Emergency Support Function-8 Health and Medical site for mass fatality management.
  • Eighteen (18) SWAT, fifteen (15) HazMat, and ten (10) EOD teams participated in active-threat/shooter (with Simunitions), chemical, radiological, IED/complex device, bomb lab, and hostage play at 32 rotating sites over a 24-hour period, which included hospitals, schools, government complexes, office buildings, bomb ranges, and a theme park.

OGL hosted an EOD workday with the area EOD teams to build the simulated IED and complex bomb devices, worked with state and federal partners to construct the bomb lab, and worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) to secure radiologic sources, provide training and support the exercise radiological venues.

Due to the size and scope of the exercise, OGL deployed supporting technologies to help manage and control the exercise including a redundant exercise control communications network consisting of a single number switchboard with extensions for the SIMCELL, Control Cell, and Site Controllers and a push-to-talk smartphone application, situational awareness and issue tracking, iPad-based evaluations, and the ability autonomously monitor each exercise venue for changes in real-world threat with support from the Region’s fusion centers.

OGL’s Big X project manager and Incident Command Subject Matter Expert, Mr. Adam Montella established Incident and Area Command and served as the Exercise Incident Commander. Exercise control was organized into three “operational areas,” with a centralized command post, which also served as the exercise Control, SIMCEL, and Joint Information Center, and provided communications, tech support, and just-in-time delivery to the field.

As part of this project, OGL developed planning meeting materials and led planning meetings, developed exercise scenarios and operational plans for exercise conduct for each of the NCTCOG’s discipline-specific working groups, developed exercise documentation (Exercise Plan, Controller/Evaluator Handbook, MSELs, Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs), etc.), facilitated pre-exercise briefings and training sessions, provided lead controllers and evaluators during exercise conduct, provided the Assistant Public Information Officer, developed and maintained the exercise website ( and social media forums and app development, managed the entire logistics component including purchasing, warehousing, and distribution, vendor, donor, and volunteer management, Moulage activities, and online registration.

OGL collected and analyzed evaluation data from exercise evaluators located at each venue, from online feedback from participants, exercise staff, and exercise planning team members, hot wash data from each venue, and debriefings from each working group to develop a regional after action report (AAR), with discipline-specific annexes. The AAR aided jurisdictions in meeting EMPG requirements and provided individuals with CEUs CMEs, and Texas law enforcement training requirements.

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