On 23 January 2017, the Government held a nation-wide exercise as part of its national vigilance plan to deal with the threat of acts of terrorism (VIGILNAT Plan).
For the purpose of the exercise, a large-scale terrorist attack with many victims was simulated. The exercise was carried out under realistic conditions at the following four sites:
- the Military Centre in Diekirch for the field operations;
- the Northern Hospital Centre for the health and hospital aspect;
- the police headquarters;
- the Government's communications centre at Senningen, where the Crisis Cell was convened.
The VIGILNAT emergency response plan drawn up under the guidance of the High Commission for National Protection defines the national package of measures for vigilance, prevention and protection against the threat of a terrorist act or in reaction to a terrorist attack perpetrated on Luxembourgish soil. It defines the role of and the steps to be taken by the various bodies, administrations and services when faced with a terrorist threat or attack.
The aims of the plan are therefore to ensure suitable protection for the country and its citizens when faced with a terrorist threat, to prevent or detect as early as possible any threat of terrorist action, and to guarantee a rapid, coordinated reaction in the event that a terrorist threat is imminent or has been committed. The execution of the plan is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and Minister of State and of the Minister of Internal Security.
The administrations and services responsible for dealing with a terrorist attack met in a crisis cell with responsibility for coordinating the operations to be implemented in managing the crisis. The Crisis Cell was convened, at the request of the Prime Minister, by the High Commissioner for National Protection. The Cell, headed by the Minister of Internal Security, met at the crisis centre in Senningen. Minister for Justice Félix Braz and Secretary of State of Internal Security Francine Closener followed the exercise as observers at the crisis centre in Senningen.
The exercise brought together about 350 participants at the various sites, involving the following administrations and services: the Grand Ducal Police; the Rescue Services Agency, the Customs and Excise Agency, the national Armed Forces, the State Intelligence Service, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of State's Crisis Communication Service, the National Health Directorate, the Ministry of Internal Security, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Red Cross, Luxembourg Air Rescue, the Northern Hospital Centre, and the High Commission for National Protection (HCPN).
The aims of the exercise
The main aim of the exercise was to check the implementation, under realistic conditions, of the procedures defined in the VIGILNAT Plan.
The scenario adopted made it possible to test the procedures for stepping the Plan up to alert level 4, involving activation of the Crisis Cell. It was possible to test the means of alerting the various stakeholders and assess the strategic and operational measures included in the VIGILNAT Plan which are implemented in the event of a terrorist attack. Lastly, the exercise made it possible to appreciate both the collaboration of all the operational stakeholders involved in the field and coordination of the teams active in the field with the Crisis Cell convened at Senningen. Additionally, the crisis management procedure at the northern hospital centre was also tested.