Operations-based exercises represent the next level of the exercise cycle. They are used to validate the plans, policies, agreements, and procedures solidified in discussion-based exercises. Operations-based exercises include drills, functional exercises (FEs), and full-scale exercises (FSEs). They can clarify roles and responsibilities, identify gaps in resources needed to implement plans and procedures, and improve individual and team performance. Operations-based exercises are characterized by actual response to emergency conditions; reaction to simulated intelligence; mobilization of apparatus, resources, and/or networks; and commitment of personnel, usually over an extended period of time.


Operations-Based Exercises

Involves deployment of resources and requires execution of plans, agreements and procedures.



Supervised activity that test a specific operation or function of a single agency.

Single or multi-agency activity designed to evaluate capabilities and multiple functions.

High-stress multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional activity involving actual deployment of resources.


  • Gain training on new equipment.
  • Test new procedures.
  • Practice and maintain skills.
  • Prepare for more complex exercises.
  • Ecaluate management of Emergency Operations Centers (EOG), command posts, and head-quarters.
  • Assess the adequancy of responses plans and resources.
  • Assess plans and procedures under crisis conditions.
  • Evalucate coordinated responses under crisis conditions.


  • Immediate feed-back.
  • Realistic but isolated environment.
  • Simulated deployment of resources.
  • Rapid problem solving.
  • High stressful environment.
  • Mobilization of units, personnel, and equipment.
  • Stressful, realistic environment.
  • Scripted exercise scenario.