DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REPORT TO CONGRESS
Volume I, Domestic Preparedness Program in the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction

 

Executive Summary

This report summarizes the Department of Defense (DoD) actions as requested by Public Law 104-201, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, Title XIV: Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), Subtitle A: Domestic Preparedness. The Conference Report accompanying Public Law 104-208 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997, requested DoD to submit a report to Congress by May 1, 1997 on four specific issues: assess the types and characteristics of chemical and biological threats; identify unmet training, equipment and other requirements for first responders; identify chemical/biological warfare information, expertise and equipment that could be adapted to civilian application; and present a detailed plan for DoD assistance in equipping, training and providing other necessary assistance for first responders to such incidents.

A threat assessment has been prepared and is contained in Volume II of this report. It assesses the types and characteristics of chemical and biological threats against U.S. citizens and Government assets in the United States.

Over the past few years, several studies, discussions, workgroups, and focus groups have identified capabilities, specific requirements and shortfalls in requirements that are needed by first responders to meet the threat of a chemical, biological or nuclear terrorist attack. The findings of these studies and workgroups show a common trend in unmet training, equipment, and other resources, such as technical information for first responders.

The DoD is using existing interagency programs as the foundation to build links between these programs and initiatives outlined in Title XIV. These programs include a nationwide training support plan with an initial focus on 27 cities. Modular training courses will then be available to other cities throughout the nation. Through the Helpline in non-emergency, and the Hotline in emergency situations, first responders will have access to DoD chemical/biological agent/warfare information and technical expertise to enhance their preparedness. Local Metropolitan Medical Strike Teams and their supporting systems are being geographically developed to respond to medical consequence management issues related to NBC terrorism. A Chemical-Biological Quick Response Force has been developed for rapid deployment to detect, neutralize, contain, dismantle, and dispose of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Operational control of committed response forces will be provided by two geographically located Response Task Forces. Other Federal departments and agencies are enhancing their response capabilities. Lessons learned from completed exercises will be applied to developing exercises/tests to be executed in the next five successive fiscal years to improve the response of Federal, state, and local agencies to emergencies involving WMD incidents.

All programs and initiatives outlined within this report are supported by congressional legislation. The overall success is dependent upon combined cooperation of all Federal agencies participating in efforts related to domestic preparedness for WMD. The key to success, however, is continued funding through the outyears to ensure that all agencies, local, state, regional and Federal, are adequately prepared to respond to a WMD terrorist attack.