1997 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


REVISED

STATEMENT BY

MR. JAMES Q. ROBERTS

PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR

TO THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

(POLICY AND MISSIONS)

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

(SPECIAL OPERATIONS/LOW-INTENSITY CONFLICT)

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

105TH CONGRESS

FEDERAL RESPONSE TO TERRORIST INCIDENTS

INVOLVING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION:

STATUS OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SUPPORT PROGRAM

NOVEMBER 4, 1997

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

UNTIL RELEASED BY THE

HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE

Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the Department of Defense (DoD) role in the "Federal Response to Domestic Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction." My comments will focus on actions taken to date by DoD to provide the "domestic emergency preparedness" training mandated in Public Law 104-201, better known as the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, or Nunn-Lugar-Domenici (NLD). The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD(SO/LIC)) serves as the Principal Staff Assistant and civilian advisor to the Secretary of Defense for policy and resource oversight related to combating terrorism. In that capacity, we are responsible for DoD's activities in the NLD program.

With me this morning from DoD are MG Edward Soriano, US Army, the Director of Military Support (DOMS); Mr. Raymond Dominguez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces and Resources, OASD(SO/LIC); and MG George Friel, US Army, Commander, U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command (CBDCOM).

I have organized my remarks in the following manner: First, I will address the overarching policy towards terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD); second, I will provide a short overview of DoD's combating terrorism program and how we support the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the crisis management and investigation phases of a domestic terrorist incident and how we support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the consequence management phase; and third, I will discuss the general DoD policy for domestic preparedness training for first responders.

Before getting into the details, there are three critical points I want to make. First, DoD's Combating Terrorism program is part of a coordinated United States Government interagency team response. No single agency possesses the authorities, response mechanisms and capabilities to effectively deter or resolve terrorist incidents. Certainly, DoD brings a wealth of resources to the effort, unique and highly sophisticated in many instances, but in the United States we support the law enforcement authority of the DOJ and the FBI. For consequence management, there is specific technical expertise within the Public Health Service, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and others which FEMA must bring together in a team effort in response to a domestic WMD release. Simply put, DoD does not and cannot perform either phase of this mission alone.

Secondly, DoD has been looking at mitigating the effects of a WMD incident for several years, well before it became an "in vogue" subject following the demise of the Soviet Union and the 1996 Sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. The combating terrorism (CT) community inherited a solid foundation and a well functioning interagency CT process from previous administrations. However, our review of WMD terrorism dramatically illustrated new tactical, technical, and policy challenges posed by terrorist use of such weapons, particularly in the domestic arena. The U.S. Government (USG) is working hard to deter or prevent, and should that fail, to minimize the effects of a WMD terrorist incident. Nevertheless, there are no silver bullets. We have an excellent response capability, probably the finest in the world, but we cannot say with absolute certainty, that we can prevent the eventual use of a WMD device, or that our current procedures would completely negate the mass casualties and damage associated with such an attack.

Finally, the process we discuss today to help solve these challenges will take time -- several years at a minimum, significant resources, including adequate funding, public education on the facts, and a deep commitment by the nation's leadership at all levels --local, State, and Federal -- to create a system in the United States in which a WMD incident can be successfully managed with a minimum loss of life and physical damage.

I will now describe our policy, systems and programs to respond to a domestic WMD terrorist event.

BACKGROUND

Overarching Policy Towards Terrorism and WMD

The Administration's terrorism policy is detailed in Presidential Decision Directive-39 (PDD 39), "U.S. Policy on Counterterrorism." The PDD seeks to integrate the roles of all pertinent federal agencies into a comprehensive, proactive program to prevent and punish terrorists acts.

  • We will do everything possible to deter and prevent terrorist attacks.
  • When acts of terrorism do occur, we will respond quickly and decisively.
  • We will work with friendly governments throughout the world to apprehend terrorists and ensure they are punished.
  • The USG does not to make concessions to terrorists.
  • The USG will give the highest priority to developing effective capabilities to detect, prevent, defeat, and manage the consequences of nuclear, biological or chemical materials or weapons used by terrorists.

The USG combating terrorism program is based on a "lead agency" concept with the Department of State exercising lead agency responsibility overseas and the DOJ exercising lead agency responsibility for domestic incidents. The DoD plays a significant supporting role to each of the lead federal agencies.

The interagency effort to support the lead Federal agency is coordinated through a standing interagency body headed by the National Security Council (NSC). This coordinating body meets on an almost weekly basis to discuss terrorist initiatives. During a terrorist incident it ensures a comprehensive and coordinated Federal response is used. The body has been in existence since the mid-1980s.

Inside DoD we accomplish these policy objectives through our combating terrorism program.

DoD Combating Terrorism Program

We divide Combating Terrorism into two components: Antiterrorism and Counterterrorism. Antiterrorism means the defensive measures employed to protect personnel and facilities against a terrorist incident. Conversely, Counterterrorism refers to our offensive response measures to deter, resolve, and mitigate a terrorist act.

It is DoD policy to protect its personnel, their families, facilities, and equipment from terrorism. Toward that end, DoD specifically budgets for security at military installations and DoD dependent schools.

When looking at counterterrorism efforts, DoD has a number of rapid response elements for responding to specific terrorist events including WMD incidents. These elements are broken down into crisis management (attempts to resolve an incident) and consequence management (efforts to mitigate the effects of an incident).

For crisis management we have several expert capabilities which have been well developed over a number of years, intensely exercised with our interagency partners, and used on several occasions to assist our FBI counterparts-primarily in a technical role to date. These capabilities include a 24-hour command center watch every day of the year to respond to any terrorist incident; a number of specialized military units on alert ready to respond within a few hours; and command and control element well versed in all terrorist scenarios.

In regard to consequence management, we have a variety of units and organizations with WMD expertise which will be employed to support FEMA. Their key tasks will be agent detection and identification, as well as decontamination. DoD also has a limited stockpile of vaccines, medical supplies, and protective gear which can be used in a WMD incident, upon approval of the Secretary of Defense. During natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, DoD routinely provides extensive logistic support, medical treatment, evacuation, and restoration of essential services. During a WMD scenario we will provide personnel trained and equipped to perform these tasks in a contaminated environment.

We are conducting research and development through the Counterterror Technical Support Program and the Technical Support Working Group to develop personnel protection, mitigation, and decontamination equipment for use by first responders. Mr. Dominguez will update you on our research and development initiatives during his testimony.

This completes the broad policy overview and general description of the DoD combating terrorism program. I will now discuss DoD's actions to implement the domestic emergency preparedness program mandated under the NLD legislation.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996

The statute mandates that the United States enhance its capability to respond to domestic terrorist incidents involving nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. The FY 1997 Defense Appropriations Act added funding for DoD to improve the capability of the Federal, State and local emergency response agencies. The legislation designated DoD as the temporary interagency lead -- the NSC is assessing whether to transfer the lead to FEMA in FY 1999. A Senior Interagency Coordinating Group (SICG) chaired by FEMA and including FBI, DOE, EPA, PHS, and DoD and other agencies coordinates program implementation. ASD(SO/LIC) and DOMS represent DoD on the SICG. Within DoD, ASD(SO/LIC) provides oversight; SECARMY is the Executive Agent and DOMS is the Staff Action Agent.

The Army CBDCOM leads interagency training development and city visits. Interagency teams coordinate with fire, police, emergency medical, and hazardous material officials and tailor training to city requirements. Additionally, FEMA has developed a Terrorism Annex to the Federal Response Plan to ensure coordination across all agencies at all levels.

In FY 1997, DoD spent $30.5 million on the training and civil response aspects of the program. An additional $10 million was dedicated to improving the United States Marine Corps Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force. In FY 1998, DoD has been provided $50 million to support the Domestic Preparedness Program. In addition, $10 million was appropriated to support National Guard efforts for detailed planning and concept studies. Engagement and involvement of Reserve Component (RC) personnel into the Domestic Preparedness Program was initiated during FY 1997. It builds upon the initial overall success of the DoD-led interagency program of providing "train-the-trainer" training to civilian first responders by further integrating RC involvement in the program during FY 1998 and beyond. It also enhances RC response capabilities.

NLD PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Strategic Plan- A key accomplishment in developing our interagency response strategy was the completion of our Strategic Plan for Developing A Weapons of Mass Destruction Domestic Terrorism Preparedness and Response Capability. Federal, interagency support to State and local first responders which provides them with the training and technical expertise they need to deal with the unique aspects of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological attacks is the centerpiece of the strategic plan. The strategic plan provides the vision, framework, and roadmap necessary to understand city needs and develop appropriate training packages to address the individual requirements of each city.

City Training and Exercises - Our city training program has several basic tenets. First it is focused only on the "Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) delta," that is, only those aspects of response which are different from how each responder would react in a non-NBC event. Secondly, our program "trains the trainers" for each city. These key instructors will then train the city's first responders in accordance with local procedures, authorities, etc. Finally, recognizing that each city is unique, our training and exercises are tailored, in close collaboration with key city leaders and emergency managers, to ensure we are meeting each city's specific needs to the best of our ability. During FY 1997, we made initial visits to 27 cities and have completed training for six. For FY 1998, we plan to make initial visits to 22 additional cities and complete training for 31 cities, including those for which the training cycle commenced in FY 1997. Based on city and interagency feedback, we continually evaluate our initial city visit and training approaches to improve them with each iteration.

Chemical-Biological Hotline - CBDCOM has established a telephonic hotline to provide access to expert assistance in the event of a chemical or biological emergency. The hotline is manned twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, by CBDCOM chemical and biological experts working out of the CBDCOM Emergency Operations Center.

Chemical-Biological Helpline - We have also established a helpline to provide access to chemical and biological experts on a routine, nonemergency basis. Helpline operators have a wide variety of chemical and biological information available and can distribute it by variety of means including fax and e-mail.

CONCLUSION

The Department of Defense has made tremendous progress in developing and providing comprehensive and integrated WMD consequence management response and training for cities. We still have some distance to go, but know we are on the right track We estimate the program to complete the initial training of the first 120 cities can be completed in four to five years. At that juncture, we expect that city and state first responder training programs will have incorporated these concepts (the NBC delta) into their own courses so that all new first responders will routinely be trained on WMD terrorism considerations. We look forward to increased participation by the National Guard and other reserve components and believe this will significantly improve our program delivery and provide a sustainable training and response mechanism well into the future.