The Rapid Assessment Elements, in their immediate response capacity, will assist in assessing the nature of an attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In most instances, the response elements will remain under State control. Under a worst-case scenario, Federal resources may also be requested very early in a WMD incident. We must anticipate these cases in planning for a coordinated local, state and federal response.
Overview: The Rapid Assessment Elements and other elements have been identified to support local, state, and federal agencies responding to a WMD incident. The basis for developing these elements is the four elements of the Incident Command System (Information and Planning, Operations, Logistics, and Finance) and the 12 Emergency Support Functions of the Federal Response Plan (FRP). Elements are designed to "plug into" existing task force structures required by the incident commander, the Governor, or the Commander-in-Chief (CINC) responding in support of the FRP

Command: Military command elements are established by the Adjutant General for the National Guard responding as state resources and by the CINC for the area(s) affected for federal military assets. In most cases, the pre-designated Defense Coordinating Officer coordinates for any federal military assets. A Response Task Force (RTF) may be deployed to provide command and control during a major federal response. The CINC's RTF is responsible for the command and control of all responding military elements, less the Joint Special Operations Task Force. It is comprised of command, staff, and technical experts required to support the WMD consequence management response.

Rapid Assessment Element Structure: The point of the military response spear is the National Guard Rapid Assessment Element. This element is comprised of highly trained experts in a cross-discipline of functional areas that can deploy and assess the situation, advise the local, state and federal response elements, define requirements, and expedite employment of state and federal military support.

Units Employed: The elements assigned to each state/territory represent the first military responders. The reconnaissance team will likely be the primary area that technical assistance will be requested. Given the goal of four-hour on-scene response time, the demands of the elements will be significant. While not ideal in terms of fully developed response capability, teams from surrounding states or even use of the regional assets may well be necessary if the situation deteriorates.

Employment: The element is organized as an unit under the peacetime control of the Adjutant General. Given its rapid response and assessment mission, the element is designed to assist incident commanders with the initial detection and the nature of the emergency. There is also a wartime element mission: to provide force protection support as directed by the CINC. As with the other elements of the response module, these elements can also be used as part of a federal (Title 10) response to support the National Military Strategy (NMS) requirements.