The secret world of Continuity of Government planning has its own vocabulary and history. Acronyms are often meant to obscure, rather than elucidate. Here’s a brief primer:
NSPD 51/HSPD-20: The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives that replace the Clinton-era directive on the national continuity policy. The directive pulls critical COG functions into the WHMO and contains classified annexes.
COG-- Continuity of Government -- six or more discrete classified programs designed to safeguard the National Command Authority -- the president and.or his successors -- during an attack and allow senior government officials to communicate with each other to ensure that essential government functions can be performed. The plans are so highly classified that they are only revealed to Congressional leaders and a few chairs and ranking members of relevant committees.
ECG -- an effort, originated by the George H.W. Bush administration, to link up the continuity plans of all three branches of government and ensure that all can function properly. The goal of ECG is to preserve constitutional democracy. Very little is known about ECG plans, or whether ECG is merely a concept that informs certain COG plans.
COP -- Continuity of the Presidency -- a subcomponent of COG, COP plans, when executed, trigger a surge of communication and security resources to protect the sitting president's ability to function as the Commander in Chief.
The Mountain -- the colloquial term for MWEOC, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center in Bluemont, Virginia. Mount Weather is widely known (but still not officially acknowledged) to be a major relocation facility for members of Congress, the Cabinet and the President. FEMA operates an overt emergency operations center on the premises. There's also a gift shop.
The Rock -- the colloquial term term for the enormous complex of bunkers and communication towers at Raven Rock, near Waynesboro, PA., It's the home to the Alternate Military Command Center and a presidential bunker, among other tenants.
PRFs -- Presidential Relocation Facilities, a.k.a, secret underground bunkers. There are a dozen in operation today.
PEADs -- Presidential Emergency Action Directives -- executive orders that grant or more precisely define presidential powers when a state of emergency is declared pursuant to the National Emergencies Act of 1950. Most are classified.
COOP continuity of operations -- Since 2005, federal agencies performing "primary mission essential functions (PMEFs)," have submitted extensive internal contingency plans to FEMA and the White House. Twice a year, agencies like the FBI run COOP drills, where headquarters functions are relocated to an alternative site and procedures are tested.
Defense Mobilization Systems Planning Activity -- established in 1982 to provide a "legit" cover for the National Programs Office, which ran more than a dozen Reagan era COG plans, most of which were kept from Congress, and some of which were probably illegal. In 1994, the Clinton administration shut this apparatus down and transferred core COG functions to FEMA and the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Sensitive Support Operations -- the official DoD term for special circumstances when units that don't exist perform emergency or continuity functions that you're not supposed to know about, like Joint Special Operations Command support to the Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Classified guidelines describe how said authorities do not violate the Posse Comatatus Act, which prohibits the military from directly supporting law enforcement agencies.
CONPLAN -- Concept of Operation Plan -- basically, a plan.
OPLAN -- what CONPLANS are called when people are actually doing them
EXORDs -- execute orders, temporary and standing, that provide specific authorities under specific circumstances
CONPLAN 2202-05 -- the classified plan that is operationalized when an enemy force invades or indigenously appears on American soil.
CONPLAN 3500 series -- Classified plans relating to CBRNE mitigation inside the United States.
CONPLAN 3501-09 -- a 500 page unclassified operational plan that explains the various ways that the Defense Department can support civilian agencies and provides for the chain of command and legal authorities to do so.
CONPLAN 3502-07 -- A classified plan, informally known as GARDEN PLOT, that describes the way the military will support civilian law enforcement agencies and the National Guard during "civil disturbances," or riots. GARDEN PLOT was activated in 1992 to quell the violence after the Rodney King verdict. The President can trigger this plan when the National Guard is no longer sufficient to contain a civil disturbance or after the executive agent has given the rioters an ultimatum to disperse..
CONPLAN 3600 series -- Classified NORTHCOM plans that delegate the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region's roles and responsibilities before, during and after a major emergency in the NCR, including counter-terrorism, COG, hardening of the White House complex and WMD consequence management.
CONPLAN 0300 series -- Classified Joint Chiefs of Staff plans involving counter-terrorism and support to domestic law enforcement agencies. The unclassified nickname for this series is POWER GEYSER; the sub-plans have an extra word added to them, like POWER GEYSER CUP or POWER GEYSER tree.
CONPLAN 0400 series -- Classified JCS plans dealing with domestic counter-proliferation and nuclear/radiological consequence management. The unclassified nickname for these plans is GRANITE SHADOW.
Cover groups -- In researching this story, National Journal identified three Defense Department field activities whose anodyne names obscure their purpose as accounting mechanisms for COG funding and operations. The National Security Staff and the Department of Defense requested that NJ not disclose the names, locations or functions of these entities.
Sources: National Journal reporting, “Code Names” (William Arkin, Steerforth, 2005), FEMA, the Department of Defense.