Exercises Overview

The primary focus of the Exercise Branch of the Training, Education and Exercise Division is to assist local and State government agencies (and their private sector and not-for-profit partners) in the development, planning, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning activities. The Exercise Program follows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) HSEEP methodology. HSEEP is a capabilities-based exercise methodology designed to build a self-sustaining exercise program and to provide standards for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises of all types and scope.

The Exercise Branch supports annual regional and technical assistance exercises for each of VDEM’s seven regions, the annual exercise for the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST), FEMA’s annual nuclear power station drill, as well as the Governor’s Cabinet exercise. In addition, the Exercise Branch has added the following types of assistance available to local and state governmental entities in designing and conducting an exercise:

  • Sharing scenarios and exercise documentation developed since the VDEM HSEEP program inception.
  • Loaning exercise equipment such as exercise role vests and simulated weapons.
  • Providing a brief review of exercise documentation to ensure it follows HSEEP guidance.

Please contact Lauren Opett, VaPEM, MEP to discuss your need for exercise assistance.


What’s in HSEEP?

Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation

HSEEP is a capabilities- and performance-based exercise program that includes a cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction. The purpose of HSEEP is to build self-sustaining exercise programs and provide a standardized policy, methodology, and terminology for designing, developing, conducting, evaluating and improving all exercises. The HSEEP methodology provides different exercise types for both discussion and operations based objectives, which can aide a jurisdiction in examining plans, capabilities, and identifying gaps.

Evaluations tied to all types of exercises provide jurisdictions and exercise participants with the mechanism to utilize task-specific and performance-based criteria, which will be used to identify corrective actions and develop an improvement plan for future preparedness efforts and funding requests. A comprehensive all-hazard exercise program begins with planning and training, continues with the exercise itself, and culminates with evaluation and the creation of an exercise After-Action Report / Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) of all activities that occurred during the process. The AAR/IP examines lessons learned during the exercise and transforms them into corrective actions.

More information can be found on the at the DHS HSEEP website.

What does it mean to be HSEEP consistent?

HSEEP consistency is defined as adherence to specific HSEEP practices for exercise program management, design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning. In order for an entity to be considered HSEEP consistent it must satisfy four distinct performance requirements:

  1. Conducting a bi-annual Training and Exercise Plan Workshop (TEPW) and maintaining a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan (MTEP)
  2. Planning and conducting exercises in accordance with the guidelines set forth in HSEEP.
  3. Developing and submitting a properly formatted After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP).
  4. Tracking and implementing Corrective Actions (CA) identified in the AAR/IP.
Why is it important to be HSEEP consistent?

Adherence to the policy and guidance presented in the HSEEP Volumes ensures that exercise programs conform to established best practices, and helps provide unity and consistency of effort for exercises at all levels of government.