What is the difference between a tabletop exercise, a drill, a functional exercise, and a full-scale exercise?
According to the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program
(HSEEP) there are seven types of exercises, each of which is
either discussion-based or operations-based.
Discussion-based exercises familiarize participants with current
plans, policies, agreements and procedures, or may be used to
develop new plans, policies, agreements, and procedures. Types of
discussion-based exercises include:
Seminar: A seminar is an informal discussion,
designed to orient participants to new or updated plans,
policies, or procedures (e.g., a seminar to review a new
Evacuation Standard Operating Procedure).
Workshop: A workshop resembles a seminar, but
is employed to build specific products, such as a draft plan or
policy (e.g., a Training and Exercise Plan Workshop is used to
develop a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan).
Tabletop Exercise (TTX): A tabletop exercise
involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an
informal setting. TTXs can be used to assess plans, policies,
Games: A game is a simulation of operations
that often involves two or more teams, usually in a competitive
environment, using rules, data, and procedure designed to
depict an actual or assumed real-life situation.
Operations-based Exercises validate plans,
policies, agreements and procedures, clarify roles and
responsibilities, and identify resource gaps in an operational
environment. Types of operations-based Exercises include:
Drill: A drill is a coordinated,
supervised activity usually employed to test a single,
specific operation or function within a single entity
(e.g., a fire department conducts a decontamination
Functional Exercise (FE): A functional
exercise examines and/or validates the coordination, command,
and control between various multi-agency coordination centers
(e.g., emergency operation center, joint field office, etc.). A
functional exercise does not involve any “boots on the ground”
(i.e., first responders or emergency officials responding to an
incident in real time).
Full-Scale Exercises (FSE): A full-scale
exercise is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional,
multi-discipline exercise involving functional (e.g., joint
field office, emergency operation centers, etc.) and “boots on
the ground” response (e.g., firefighters decontaminating mock