Regional Rapid Assessment Element Stationing Plans Announced

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today announced the stationing plan for 10 recently announced rapid assessment elements using National Guard personnel. The teams, expected to be activated Oct. 1, 1998, are part of epartment of Defense’s overall effort to support local, state and federal civil authorities in the event of an incident involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on U.S. soil.

After careful and objective analysis, the following states have been selected to receive the teams: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. From this point, the

Department will work with each state in an effort to identify the specific communities in which the units will be placed. Under this pilot program, and based on future analysis, additional assessement elements may be added.

The selection of stationing sites was based on several criteria, including demographics, threat assessment, high value targets and the availability of National Guard military airlift. Other factors included the location of existing military centers of excellence, proximity to Federal response assets, and the existence of interstate agreements that would permit the teams to respond to requests for assistance from adjoining states.

The teams, each located within one of the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions, will be able to deploy rapidly, assist local first responders in determining the nature of an attack, provide medical and technical advice, and pave the way for the identification and arrival of follow-on federal response assets. Each rapid assessment team will consist of 22 highly skilled, full-time members who will act as the tip of the national military support spear.

During Fiscal Year (FY) 1999, all ten assessment elements will be established in the first quarter, with an increment of six people.A limited response capability will be available after FY1999, with fully developed mission-ready elements in place after FY2000.

The 10 regional teams form part of a larger initiative, first announced on March 17, 1998, to improve the nation’s ability to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

In support of this mission, the National Guard and other Reserve components are being integrated into a national WMD preparedness strategy. Complementing and supporting the 10 rapid assessment teams will be 64 decontamination and 28 reconnaissance units, drawn from the existing Reserve Component force structure, which will be provided with additional special training and equipment to enable them to perform a response and support mission.

Overseeing this process is the recently established Reserve Component Consequence Management Program Integration Office. The organization reports to the Director of Military Support and, through that general officer, to the Secretary of the Army, DoD’s executive agent for domestic preparedness.

For more information, please contact Army Public Affairs, Public Communications Division at (703) 697-4314.

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