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Department of Homeland Security Shield / FEMA

Center for
Domestic Preparedness

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NSSE NLE Support

If your community is going to be participating in a National Special Security Event (NSSE) or National Level Exercise (NLE) contact your respective CDP Regional Training Coordinator to determine how the CDP can assist with your success.


National Special Security Event (NSSE)

When an event is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the Secret Service assumes its mandated role as the lead agency for the design and implementation of the operational security plan. The Secret Service has developed a core strategy to carry out its security operations, which relies heavily on its established partnerships with law enforcement and public safety officials at the local, state, and federal levels.

The goal of the cooperating agencies is to provide a safe and secure environment for Secret Service protectees, other dignitaries, the event participants, and the general public. There is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination in preparation for these events, particularly in the areas of venue and motorcade route security, communications, credentialing, and training.

National Level Exercise (NLE)

The purpose of a National Level Exercise (NLE) is to prepare and coordinate a multiple-jurisdictional integrated response to a national catastrophic event.

NLEs are designated as Tier I National Level Exercises. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation's overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting, and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.

NLEs are White House-directed, Congressionally mandated exercises that include the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies and staff, and key operational elements.