Austin, TX, Radiological Exercise Features Low-Flying Aircraft, Attack Simulation

Feds warn public may see first responders in PPE using radiological monitoring and detection equipment, as well as a radiological attack simulation during 'Cobalt Magnet 22' drill.

Image Credits:, @AustinHSEM.

Austin, Texas, will be hosting a major radiological exercise this week complete with low-flying aircraft collecting data, as well as a radiological attack simulation.

The Cobalt Magnet 22 exercise, taking place from May 16 to May 20, is being conducted by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), ostensibly in efforts to prepare federal, state and local agencies for radiological threats.

More from the NNSA:

Taking place at various locations around the city, the exercise will simulate a radiological attack, enabling response personnel to practice protecting public health and safety, providing emergency relief to affected populations, and restoring essential services.

During the exercise, the NNSA warns the public could see teams out in protective clothing, and that data will be collected by low-flying aircraft.

During the week, members of the public may see field teams in protective clothing using radiological monitoring and detection equipment, low-flying aircraft conducting data-gathering overflights, and groups of first responders and others staged at various locations.

“The men and women of the Nuclear Emergency Support Team – or NEST – are trained to provide decision-makers with timely, actionable scientific advice during fearful events,” said the DOE’s Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Jay Tilden.

“Saving lives and reducing the impact of a nuclear incident requires a full understanding of what happened, who will be affected, and what the optimal response should be. NEST’s bread and butter is providing that information to local, state, and federal leaders as rapidly as possible.”

Democrat Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the radiological drill in a tweet Friday, assuring the public, “This is only an exercise.”

On Monday, Austin Emergency Management reiterated the Cobalt Magnet drills would be “just an exercise!”

The NNSA and local agencies did not say whether Austin is under a viable radiological threat, or is considered to be a target.

The federal drill is reminiscent of the controversial Jade Helm 15 training exercise in 2015, in which the military gathered human domain analytics with soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian populations” to see if they could infiltrate without being noticed.

The exercise comes as NATO and its allies have continued to prop up Ukraine in its war against Russia, provoking the former Soviet nation which has full nuclear capabilities. Agencies did not say the drills were in response to any type of threat from Russia.

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