Be warned in Singapore, but no Common Ground in Europe.

According to Channel News Asia, the Singapore authorities are warning the public that they intend to hold a major anti-terrorist simulation exercise on the public transport system in January 2006. They are not giving the exact day.
This is a contrast to the secrecy which surrounds exercises elsewhere – remember the European avian flu exercise, “Common Ground”?

The Singapore authorities have said that the exercise will simulate “explosions inside a train in a tunnel and at the platform, a chemical attack and an explosion on a double-decker bus”, sometime in January.

The UK authorities usually hold their London Transport counter-terrorist exercises on Sundays, and close down the section of the tube they are using. If they tell us in advance (eg the avian flu exercise – remember?) they often dont tell us afterwards what happened.

A report on the avian flu exercise Common Ground was originally said to be made to a meeting of European health ministers in December, though I havent found it yet. The latest I can find on the exercise is a short report in Eurosurveillance, which promises that “An evaluation meeting will take place on 1-2 February 2006 and conclusions will be made available to the public by the Commission on its website shortly afterwards.” The report does say:”The exercise provided an excellent opportunity for the member states and organisations involved to identify areas where cooperation needs to be improved and to test internal and external communication functions”.

Allowing for the differences between US and European shades of bland, thats depressingly similar to what the New Orleans authorities said after Hurricane Pam, the exercise that failed to prepare them for Hurricane Katrina. (“great progress … in our preparedness efforts…. We have also determined where to focus our efforts in the future.”)

I can see the arguments for keeping quiet about security preparations, but surely there is no harm in reporting back promptly and substantially on a health-related exercise which cost EU 900,000 of tax-payers money?

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