In late October 2023, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) teamed up with various federal, state, and local agencies for the 2023 Texas Statewide Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) Full-Scale Exercise. This two-day exercise, conducted on October 26 and 27, aimed to evaluate and enhance the state's preparedness in the event of a complex terrorist attack.
The CCTA exercise had been in the planning stages for over a year, involving extensive coordination between DPS and numerous partner agencies. Collaborating closely with the four Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Field Offices in Texas and various state and local entities, including law enforcement, emergency management, public health, and other stakeholders, the exercise was meticulously executed.
DPS Director Steven McCraw emphasized the critical nature of such realistic and demanding exercises in assessing and maintaining preparedness levels. He stated, "The CCTA exercise strengthens collaboration and partnerships among agencies at all levels that will need to work together in real-life situations to save lives and protect Texans. I have no doubt we are better prepared today than we were a few days ago because this training took place."
The exercise involved approximately 1,000 participants distributed across six locations throughout the state. These locations included Prosper, The Woodlands, El Paso, Lubbock, and San Antonio. The DPS Operations Center at Austin Headquarters served as the command center for coordinating the state-level law enforcement response.
The overall scenario for the exercise revolved around coordinated attacks on school-based targets, encompassing K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and mass gatherings. Each simulated attack was designed to be unique, involving various personnel and assets working together.
CCTA exercise participants focused on critical aspects, including intelligence analysis and sharing, multi-agency incident response, operational communications, emergency medical operations, dissemination of information to the public, family reunification, and other issues essential in real-world emergency situations. The exercise served as a valuable opportunity to test and improve the state's readiness to respond to complex coordinated terrorist attacks.