Guard, Reserve To Take On New Role
By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 18, 1998 Army Brig. Gen. Roger Schultz is both clear and direct when he talks about the potential for attacks with weapons of mass destruction: "We don't know when and we don't know the place, but we will be attacked."
Schultz is the deputy for the Director of Military Support, a DoD agency that coordinates military assistance to states and local governments in times of disaster. As such, he is a key player in the program Defense Secretary William Cohen recently unveiled to integrate National Guard and Reserve forces in responding to attacks with weapons of mass destruction.
Under the program, National Guard and Reserve forces will be trained to help states and local governments respond to nuclear, biological and chemical attacks against their communities.
Ten Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection elements will be trained and equipped beginning in fiscal 1999 to respond to a variety of scenarios, including terrorist bombings. Each element will have 22 full-time National Guard soldiers and airmen capable of deploying to an incident within four hours. The teams will be supported by reconnaissance and decontamination teams drawn from existing reserve component forces.
In the case of an attack, RAID elements would work with federal, state and local authorities to assess conditions, detect contaminants and lend technical advice to local authorities. They also would facilitate the arrival of DoD or other federal agency assets.
Schultz is both excited and anxious to get the program off the ground -- excited because he believes the program will help the reserve components achieve greater integration with the Total Force; and anxious because he sees a nation and citizenry not fully prepared for attacks.
Integration takes place in several ways, Schultz explained. "This is not simply about adding another responsibility to Guard and Reserve soldiers and building them into a unit," he said. "It's also about exercising with state and community 'first responders' and exercising with federal government partners around the nation. It's integrating the Guard and Reserve into the response community's capabilities in such a way we create a habitual relationship."
The plan also fuses Guard and Reserve forces with the larger DoD effort.
"The task we're going to be training Guard and Reserve soldiers and airmen on is related to our warfighting. We're not just investing in a domestic response; we're investing in a commander in chief's requirement to go to war," Schultz said. "If we respond to a domestic incident, that's one capability. Responding to a theater outside the continental United States is another. They're all DoD capabilities. And that's the bonus of this DoD investment."
The plan blends initiatives from several fronts. Presidential Directive 39 directed government agencies to begin preparing for terrorist attacks, while the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996 required immediate action to improve response capabilities at federal, state and community levels. Schultz said the plan also responds to Cohen's 1997 Defense Reform Initiative emphasis on effective and efficient use of resources and his Sept. 4, 1997, memo on active and reserve component integration.
Schultz said he hopes the program will help educate the American public about its vulnerability to chemical, biological and nuclear attack. During the past five years, he said, at least 11 states, as well as foreign nations, have experienced terrorism. Some of the most widely publicized incidents were the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, the 1995 chemical attack on a Tokyo subway, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics.
Despite these incidents, Schultz said, he believes Americans maintain a false sense of security.
"We are used to fighting wars in foreign theaters, but we're not used to it on our own soil," he said. "So when we begin discussing threats in our own country, it's difficult for people to think in those terms because they haven't been exposed to it."
What Americans don't always appreciate, he said, is the freedoms they enjoy also make them vulnerable to attack, especially when combined with current technology and the availability of raw materials. With this program, he said, Americans may better understand the threat and come to appreciate the term "homeland defense."
"Homeland defense is going to take on quite a different meaning for us," Schultz said. "It will include preparing for weapons of mass destruction as a minimum. It will include not just domestic preparedness, but installation preparedness and our ability to protect our power and continuity of government. All this comes together in the plan in the next few years."
Schultz said the Guard and Reserve are not ready for this new responsibility today, but will be in a few years. Calling the new mission a natural extension of the role the Guard and Reserve now play in responding to disasters such as floods, hurricanes and blizzards, he said what's missing is the proper training and equipment.
That situation will turn around in the next few years, he said, pointing to the president's fiscal 1999 budget request for $49.2 million for personnel costs, patient decontamination and reconnaissance training, medical training for operating in contaminated areas, and for establishing a Consequence Management Program Integration Office.
Funds will also pay for training exercises with federal, state and local disaster response teams and to upgrade simulation systems for tabletop exercises.
"This is a totally integrated effort," Schultz emphasized. "It took a lot of study. We've identified the needs, and the major initiatives are in place. Now it's time to move on with the plan, and that's what we're doing."