Exercise Phoenix: a joint WOAH, FAO and INTERPOL international agro-terrorism simulation exercise

From 13 to 28 February 2023

WOAH is informing its Delegates and network that an international agro-terrorism simulation exercise (“Exercise Phoenix”) is taking place in February 2023. This exercise is part of a joint WOAH, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) project aimed at building sustainable resilience against animal health emergencies caused by agro-terrorism and agro-crime and funded by the Weapons Threat Reduction Program of Global Affairs Canada. The European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) and the WOAH Collaborating Centre on Biological Threat Reduction (Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases at Texas A&M) are participating in the writing and delivery of the exercise.

The exercise will be held from 13 – 16 February 2023 almost simultaneously in regional hubs in North Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia. On 28 February 2023, a discussion exercise will be held in Rome, Italy to explore the roles of international organisations in response to an agro-terrorism incident.

The aim of Exercise Phoenix is to improve the preparedness and coordination of national and regional veterinary services, law enforcement agencies, and international organizations to work together in response to an agro-terrorism incident.

 The exercise objectives are:

  • To raise awareness of, and confirm triggers of suspicion of, an agro-terrorism act at national and regional level.
  • To discuss initial joint response and initial response measures put in place when detecting an agro-terrorism event.
  • To practice collaboration and cooperation between Law Enforcement and Veterinary Services at national and regional levels.
  • To discuss information sharing at national, regional and international levels in response to this threat
  • To explore the roles of selected national, regional, and international entities in dealing with an international agro-terrorism incident.

Participants in regions will include representatives from Veterinary Services and Law Enforcement from North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania), Middle East (Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon) and South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines), as well as international and regional organisations.  

Players will respond to a fictitious rinderpest scenario affecting animal health and food security, which requires cooperation between Veterinary Services and Law Enforcement during the investigation and response phases. This is a tabletop exercise and no field activities will take place. Given the sensitive nature of the exercise, measures will be in place to label and secure all scenario material.

To avoid confusion with a real event, please inform relevant staff within your organisation.

For further information about the exercise, please contact Dr Daniel Donachie at [email protected]