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States Chosen for Rapid Assessment Teams

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 1, 1998 – DoD has selected 10 states to receive the first regional Rapid Assessment Element teams.

The National Guard teams will help local, state and federal officials cope with terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction.

California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington will field the teams. There is a team in each of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 10 national regions. The teams will be available to help officials in other states.

Senior military officials based initial selections on demographics, threat assessment, high-value targets and the availability of National Guard airlift. They said each team will consist of 22 full-time Guardsmen. All 10 teams will stand up in fiscal 1999 and be fully mission-ready in fiscal 2000.

Senior officials stressed the military teams will play a support role -- local authorities take the lead.

"[The military] will offer whatever assistance is necessary and be part of the team," an official said during a Pentagon background briefing. The briefer said 29 federal agencies are involved in responding to crises. The rapid assessment element teams will be part of that federal effort.

The teams' mission is to respond quickly. Upon arriving at a site they must assess the situation and advise the incident commander on what steps to take. The team members will advise police and fire officials who respond to an incident and then relay requests for assistance to the appropriate DoD offices.

Each team will have a reconnaissance element to gauge the extent of the incident and a medical element to advise local officials about treatment. The teams will also have air liaison and security, logistics and communications elements.

A total of 64 decontamination and 28 reconnaissance reserve component units will support the rapid assessment element teams when the teams stand up next fiscal year. This number will grow to 127 decontamination units and 55 reconnaissance units by the end of fiscal 2000.

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