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Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Office of National Preparedness


From The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, & Emergency Management
Hearing on

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of National Preparedness

The ONP has as its mission the task of providing “…leadership in the coordination and facilitation of all federal efforts to assist state and local emergency management and emergency response organizations with planning, training, equipment and exercises necessary to build and sustain capability to respond to any emergency or disaster.”

From the White House Press release dated May 8th, 2001 (Statement by the President
Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
Today, numerous Federal departments and agencies have programs to deal with the consequences of a potential use of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon in the United States. Many of these Federal programs offer training, planning, and assistance to state and local governments. But to maximize their effectiveness, these efforts need to be seamlessly integrated, harmonious, and comprehensive.

Therefore, I have asked Vice President Cheney to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort so that we may do the very best possible job of protecting our people from catastrophic harm. I have also asked Joe Allbaugh, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to create an Office of National Preparedness. This Office will be responsible for implementing the results of those parts of the national effort overseen by Vice President Cheney that deal with consequence management. Specifically it will coordinate all Federal programs dealing with weapons of mass destruction consequence management within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies. The Office of National Preparedness will work closely with state and local governments to ensure their planning, training, and equipment needs are addressed. FEMA will also work closely with the Department of Justice, in its lead role for crisis management, to ensure that all facets of our response to the threat from weapons of mass destruction are coordinated and cohesive. I will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts.

Consequence Management- here are a few links that give the basic idea on what WMD Consequence Management might mean.

United States Marine Corps
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force

From Parameters, Autumn 1997, pp. 119-34. (U.S Army War college Quarterly, Autumn 1997)
It is no longer a matter of if--but rather when--a weapon of mass destruction will be used against the people and institutions of the United States. The sarin gas attack that killed 12 people in a Tokyo subway in 1995 established the precedent, a dubious distinction that almost fell to the United States two years earlier. Only the unanticipated power of the explosion that rocked the World Trade Center in 1993, vaporizing the cyanide that had been packed with the explosive, prevented the gas from spreading throughout the area. The FBI presently is tracking several groups within the United States that have acquired, or show an inclination to use, some type of weapon of mass destruction. The seemingly inevitable attempt by foreign or domestic terrorists to use such weapons inside the United States requires a candid discussion about how we as a nation are preparing to manage the consequences of such an incident.

(March 17, 1998 Defenselink News)
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today announced the establishment of a Consequence Management Program Integration Office to oversee the integration of the Reserve components into domestic preparations to respond to terrorist or other incidents involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The office will be led by Air Force Lt. Col. Jay Steinmetz and will report to the director of Military Support. The secretary of the Army, as the executive agent for domestic preparedness, will supervise the office and its integration efforts.

Integrating the reserves into national plans to respond to domestic WMD incidents is another step in fulfilling Cohen's recent mandate to achieve full integration of the Reserve and active components. In his Sept. 4, 1997 Memo on the Integration of the Active and Reserve Components, he called on the military services to provide the National Command Authorities with a total force that provides "the flexibility and interoperability necessary for the full range of military operations."

The new office's primary function will be to bring Reserve Component integration in synch with current interagency WMD preparedness programs; and to establish 10 Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection (RAID) elements. The RAID elements will enhance DoD's immediate response capability.

Each RAID element, consisting of 22 highly trained, full-time National Guard personnel, will have the mission of providing early assessment, initial detection, and technical advice to local incident commanders during an incident involving a weapon of mass destruction; and then initiating requests for additional state or federal response assets. Their goal is to deploy rapidly and arrive quickly at the site of a domestic WMD incident.


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