Continuity of Operations
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Continuity of Operations (COOP) is a United States federal government initiative, required by U.S. Presidential directive, to ensure that agencies are able to continue performance of essential functions under a broad range of circumstances.
National Security Presidential Directive-51 (NSPD-51)/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20 (HSPD-20), National Continuity Policy, specifies certain requirements for continuity plan development, including the requirement that all Federal executive branch departments and agencies develop an integrated, overlapping continuity capability. FCD 1 also serves as guidance to State, local, and tribal governments.
FEMA has developed Continuity Guidance Circular 1, Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Agencies (CGC 1). CGC 1 parallels the information in FCD 1 closely, but is geared to States, territories, tribal and local governments, and private-sector organizations.
- 1 History
- 2 National Level Continuity Exercises Under DHS
- 3 COG activated
- 4 Lack of Congressional oversight
- 5 Documents
- 6 Hardware and facilities
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
A Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government Plan) has been a part of U.S. government operations since at least the Cold War, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower provided (via executive order) various measures designed to ensure that the government of the United States would be able to continue operating after a nuclear war.
These measures included construction of underground facilities such as "Mount Weather", a hollowed-out putatively nuclear-proof mountain in western Virginia with a mailing address in Berryville, Virginia. The public can now tour one such facility, intended to house the entire United States Congress, on the grounds of the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (See also Project Greek Island) Other provisions of the plans included executive orders that designated certain government officials to assume Cabinet and other executive branch positions and carry out the responsibilities of the position if the primary office holders are killed. There has been a formal line of succession to the presidency since 1792 (currently found in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, 3 U.S.C. § 19). This runs from the Vice President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, and then through the Cabinet secretaries in a sequence specified by Congress.
Continuity of government plans are not limited to the federal government. The majority of states have constitutional provisions that provide for the succession of government in the event of an "enemy attack."
National Level Continuity Exercises Under DHS
|Date||Name||Scenario (If any)||Emphasis (If any)|
|2004 June 12–13||Exercise Forward Challenge - TOP OFF|
|2005 June 20–24||Exercise PINNACLE / Forward Challenge - TOP OFF 2||Terrorism|
|2006 June 19–22||Exercise PINNACLE / Forward Challenge - TOP OFF 3|
|2007 May 25||Exercise PINNACLE / TOP OFF 4|
|2008 May 7–8||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 08)|
|2009 June 17||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 09) |
|2010 May 23||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 10) ||"Dirty Bomb"|
|2011 June 23||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 11)||"Dirty Bomb"||Devolution|
|2012 June 18||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 12) ||Cyber Attack|
|2013 April 18||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 13) ||Pandemic||Alt. Emergency Response Group (ERG)|
|2014 April 1–2||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 14)||TBD|
|2015 TBD||Exercise Eagle Horizon (EH 15)||TBD|
The George W. Bush administration put the Continuity of Operations plan into effect for the first time directly following the September 11 attacks. Their implementation involved a rotating staff of 75 to 150 senior officials and other government workers from every federal executive department and other parts of the executive branch in two secure bunkers on the East Coast. Friends, family and co-workers were only able to reach them through a toll-free number and personal extensions. The Bush administration did not acknowledge the implementation of the COG plan until March 1, 2002.
Since its inception, the newly created Department of Homeland Security has conducted at least three exercises to test continuity plans. The first, named "Forward Challenge '04", took place from May 12 to May 13, 2004, and included more than 40 government agencies. The second major exercise took place from June 20 to June 24, 2005. Titled "Pinnacle", the exercise tested responses to various emergencies, including a hypothetical act of terrorism. "Forward Challenge '06" was the third major exercise, and took place on June 19, 2006. It reportedly involved nearly 4,000 government personnel.
In 2007, Professor Larry J. Sabato criticized the incomplete nature of the plan in his book A More Perfect Constitution. In particular, he objected to the fact that there is no Constitutional procedure for replacing U.S. House members in the case of a large-scale attack which could potentially kill a large number of representatives. In regard to the Continuity of Operations Plan, Sabato said it "failed outright" during the September 11 attacks.
Lack of Congressional oversight
On July 18, 2007, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, requested the classified and more detailed version of the government's continuity of government plan in a letter signed by him and the chairperson of the House Homeland Committee, which is supposed to have access to confidential government information. The president refused to provide the information, to the surprise of the congressional committee. As of August 2007[update], efforts by the committee to secure a copy of the plan continue.
A document named in italics supersedes the following document.
George W. Bush administration
- NSPD 51 National Security Presidential Directive 51, "National Continuity Policy", May 9, 2007 (supersedes Presidential Decision Directive 67) (also known as HSPD 20 "Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20")
- Federal Preparedness Circular 65, "Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP)", July 26, 1999
- "Federal Response Plan" [FEMA 9230.1-PL], April 1999
- Presidential Decision Directive 67, "Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations", October 21, 1998
- 41 Code of Federal Regulations 101-2, "Occupant Emergency Program", revised as of July 1, 1998
- 36 Code of Federal Regulations 1236, "Management of Vital Records", revised as of July 1, 1998
- Presidential Decision Directive 63, "Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)", May 22, 1998
- Presidential Decision Directive 62, "Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas", May 22, 1998
- FPC 65 Federal Response Planning Guidance 01-94, "Continuity of Operations (COOP)", December 4, 1994
George H. W. Bush administration
- PDD 67 National Security Directive 69, "Enduring Constitutional Government", June 2, 1992
- FPC 65 Federal Preparedness Circular 61, "Emergency Succession to Key Positions of the Federal Departments and Agencies", August 2, 1991
- FPC 65 Federal Preparedness Circular 62, "Delegation of Authorities for Emergency Situations", August 1, 1991
- Federal Preparedness Circular 60, "Continuity of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government at the Headquarters Level During National Security Emergencies", November 20, 1990
- NSD 69 National Security Directive 37, "Enduring Constitutional Government", April 18, 1990
An unknown contingency plan (which some believe was Rex 84) was publicly mentioned during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987.  Transcripts from the hearing in the New York Times record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, North's attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the Committee:
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.
The head of each Federal department and agency shall ensure the continuity of essential functions in any national security emergency by providing for: succession to office and emergency delegation of authority in accordance with applicable law; safekeeping of essential resources, facilities, and records; and establishment of emergency operating capabilities.
- Executive Order 12472, "Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Telecommunications Functions", April 3, 1984
- NSD 69 NSDD 55, "Enduring National Leadership" September 14, 1982
- Executive Order 12148, "Federal Emergency Management", July 20, 1979
- Eisenhower Ten, March 6, 1958
- National Security Act of 1947, July 26, 1947
Hardware and facilities
The Continuity of Operations Plan involves numerous bunkers, special airplanes, and communication systems. Much of the information about them is classified, however information on various systems has been released by the government or described to the public by reporters and writers. Since many of the details are classified, the public information may be incorrect. Also they are subject to change without public notice so this list may not reflect current plans.
During the Cold War, the United States constructed bunkers to help provide survivability to military command and government officials. Some have been decommissioned since the Cold War. The ones that are still considered to be in operation are listed here.
- Cheyenne Mountain Complex - This underground facility is the former home of NORAD. Becoming fully operational on April 20, 1966, it is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Currently, the military has the goal of placing the operations center on "warm stand-by", meaning that the facility will be maintained and ready for use on short notice as necessary, but not used on a daily basis. In the event of an emergency deemed serious enough, NORAD and USNORTHCOM would use the bunker for C4ISTAR of America's military.
- Site R (Raven Rock) - Near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Site R is the emergency home for The Pentagon. Vice President Cheney is reported to have stayed here after the September 11 attacks.
- Mount Weather - The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is a government facility located near Bluemont, Virginia. It houses operations and training facilities above ground for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and contains an underground facility designed to house key components of the American government in the case of nuclear war. During the September 11 attacks, a line of government cars and limousines with police escort was seen heading from Washington, D.C. to Mount Weather. It has been suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney has been at Mount Weather from time to time, as it is the quintessential "secure undisclosed location". Since September 11, 2001, Mount Weather has seen a dramatic increase in staffing and support. It is believed[who?] that Mount Weather has largely assumed the functions of the facility at the Greenbrier, which was to house the U.S. Congress in an emergency, since that shelter was decommissioned.
- Air Force One is the radio call sign of any Air Force plane the President of the United States travels on. However, the term typically refers to a Boeing VC-25A the President normally uses. While the VC-25A is equipped with numerous systems to ensure its survival, in an emergency it is recommended that the President use the National Airborne Operations Center.
- National Airborne Operations Center (codenamed Nightwatch) is a Boeing E-4 specially built to serve as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority (NCA). Either the President or the Secretary of Defense may use it. It is also possible that the President would authorize the Vice President or others to use it, depending on the circumstances.
- Looking Glass is USSTRATCOM's Airborne Command Post, designed to take over in case NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Directorate is destroyed or incapable of communicating with strategic forces. Beginning February 3, 1961, an Air Force Looking Glass aircraft was in the air at all times 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day. On Oct. 1, 1998, the U.S. Navy replaced the U.S. Air Force. In addition, a battle staff now flies with the TACAMO crew.
- Two National Emergency Command Post Afloat
- USS Northampton was converted into Command Ship CC-1 between 1961.
- USS Wright was converted into Command Ship CC-2 between 1962 and 1963 and included the National Military Command System.
These vessels were decommissioned in 1970.
Communication is vital during a catastrophic event. Military communication links are designed for extreme situations such as nuclear war and thus considered more "survivable" than civilian networks. The Defense Information Systems Agency is in charge of supporting command, control, communications, and information systems for the military and would support the NCA. It is assumed that the various bunkers and airplanes have been equipped with special communication equipment to survive a catastrophe.
- Internet - The Internet began as the ARPANET, a program funded by the U.S. military. The Internet is designed with the capability to withstand losses of large portions of the underlying networks, but was never designed to withstand a nuclear attack. Due to the huge numbers of people using it, it would likely be jammed and unable to handle communication if it suffered a large amount of damage. During a localized emergency, it is highly useful. However, the loss of electrical power to an area can make accessing the Internet difficult or impossible.
- Communications satellites - Basically immune to any ground catastrophe, it is expected that military communication satellites would provide the government with the ability to communicate in any situation other than one that includes a direct attack upon the satellites.
- Telephone - The authority for the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize official traffic on public communication infrastructure, such as the Plain Old Telephone System 
- Business continuity planning
- Critical Infrastructure Protection
- Designated survivor
- Disaster recovery
- Main Core
- National Response Framework
- National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
- Presidential directive
- Rex 84
- FEMA Continuity of Operations (COOP)Awareness Course http://emilms.fema.gov/is546a/COOP0101000.htm.
- Eric R. Daleo, State Constitutions and Legislative Continuity in a 9/11 World: Surviving an Enemy Attack, 58 DePaul L. Rev. 919 (2009). Accessed May 23, 2011.
- NOTE: On the Audio Commentary with Historical Figures during Scene 17 (c 1:12) of the Thirteen Days DVD, the commentator states that President Eisenhower ran the U.S. government outside of Washington for four days in 1956.
- Gellman, Barton; Schmidt, Susan (March 1, 2002). "Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret; After Attacks, Bush Ordered 100 Officials to Bunkers Away From Capital to Ensure Federal Survival".
- "The Shadow Government". CBS News. March 2, 2002.
- Fact Sheet: Forward Challenge 04, Homeland Security Press Room. Accessed June 6, 2006.
- Department of Homeland Security Announces Pinnacle Exercise to Test Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans, Homeland Security Press Room. Accessed June 6, 2006.
- Back to the Bunker, The Washington Post. Accessed June 6, 2006.
- Kosseff, Jeff (July 20, 2007). "DeFazio asks, but he's denied access". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- AMERICA NEEDS A PLAN TO PROVIDE FOR CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT, Congressional Record: August 2, 2007, Page H9548.
- "", Curry County Reporter. Accessed September 7. 2007.
- The Oregonian, 2007 July 27, "DeFazio Demands Access to Classified Information," http://blog.oregonlive.com/politics/2007/07/defazio_demands_access_to_clas.html
- National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
- [unreliable source?]Oliver North Questioned - Rex 84 Exposed During Iran Contra
- Chip Berlet: The Right-Wing Roots of Sheehan's "Secret Team" Theory. In: Right Woos Left. 1990/1999
- [Transcript from the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, New York Times, July 14, 1987]
- North American Aerospace Defense Command
- Raven Rock Underground Command Center (Site R)
- TACAMO - Take Charge And Move Out
- See ARPANET#Misconceptions of design goals.
- "Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations" - Description of the secret Presidential Decision Directive 67, October 21, 1998
- "Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP)" - Federal Preparedness Circular 65, July 26, 1999
- FEDERAL PREPAREDNESS CIRCULAR 65, June 15, 2004 (from FEMA site)
- National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive Subject: National Continuity Policy May 9, 2007 - Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.
- "AFI 10-208" USAF Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program
- "The Atomic Midwife: The Eisenhower Administration’s Continuity-of-Government Plans and the Legacy of ‘Constitutional Dictatorship’"
- "Toward Comprehensive Reform of America's Emergency Law Regime & Compendium of National Emergency Powers"