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Task Force Prepares for Consequence Management

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2002 – He's the commander no one wants to see.

This is the response that Army Brig. Gen. Jerry Grizzle received when he met the officials of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee.

It's not that the Oklahoma native is a bad guy, but he represents a unit that specializes in the aftermath of a nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological attack. He commands Joint Task Force-Civil Support, based in Norfolk, Va.

He didn't take the Salt Lake comments negatively. "I took it as they fully understood what my job was, and if I have to come do my job, things are not good," said the National Guardsman.

JTF-Civil Support is the DoD organization tasked with consequence management in the event of an attack on the United States by an enemy or a terrorist organization using weapons of mass destruction. Grizzle assumed command of the unit in November 2000.

He said the JTF's work has not changed since the terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon, but the perception of the organization did. He said the work of the JTF received greater visibility and the importance of its work was validated.

"A lot of people struggled prior to (Sept. 11) with what the organization was conceptually supposed to do and how it was to fit in with first responders," Grizzle said.

There were more questions than answers about the JTF and its mission. How would the JTF fit in with first responders? What would the military bring to such a crisis? If something so significant occurs that local and state authorities are overwhelmed, how would the JTF interface with those on the ground? What would trigger JTF-Civil Support's involvement?

"Since then, we've spent an enormous amount of time dealing directly with those issues," he said.

The JTF was not called to help at the World Trade Center. "New York City has enough resources to handle a tragedy of this scope," Grizzle said. "We were in constant communication with the lead federal agency at the site and we were ready to help if needed, but the people in New York had the resources and, more important, had trained with the resources to be able to handle the crisis by themselves."

He said an attack of such significance in any other city in America probably would have quickly exceeded local capabilities to respond, and so a JTF call-up would have been more likely.

JTF officials were in constant contact with New York's adjutant general throughout the Trade Center aftermath. Had they been needed, Grizzle said, they could have been at the site almost immediately.

One off-shoot of the attack was renewed emphasis on homeland defense. The JTF is part of a new Homeland Security Directorate at U.S. Joint Forces Command. The command has overall responsibility for land and maritime defense of the United States. The new directorate focuses squarely on the homeland security mission. Army Maj. Gen. Edward Soriano leads the effort. Since Sept. 11, the JTF's staff doubled to about 180 people from all services.

The command is working on tailoring assistance packages based on locales and threats. "A lot of that comes from working with the states and cities and understanding what their capabilities are so the command can tailor the force to their deficits," Grizzle said.

He used Missouri as an example. If something were to happen in St. Louis or Kansas City, there would be no need to call in engineer assets from outside the state. First, he said, the Missouri National Guard is "engineer heavy," and second, the Army's Engineer School is at Fort Leonard Wood -- right in the middle of the state.

"So, I could concentrate on what the cities or the state did not have, be it medical facilities, military police, whatever," he said.

JTF staff also know what agreements exist between states. For example, if a chemical, biological or radiological attack hit Philadelphia, the planners know what resources Maryland and Pennsylvania have agreed to share. So the JTF experts know where to turn and what governors need should the attack spill across state lines.

Grizzle said preparation levels vary across America, but Sept. 11 has been a common thread forcing federal, state and local officials to examine their emergency plans and resources. "Already, plans have been tightened and resources made available," he said.

The JTF sponsors and participates in exercises around the country. "We try to participate in all exercises regarding consequence management," Grizzle said.

He said the JTF already works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but he hopes for even tighter ties, co-sponsoring exercises to help local officials measure successes and debits and to mark the limits of their resources and when to call for federal help.

 

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