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Bush: United Effort Needed to Fight Terror War's Two Fronts

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2002 – They're evil, they're out there, and America is their target. Global terrorists are relentless in their desire to attack the world's bastion of freedom, according to President Bush.

The war against terrorism is a two-front war, the president said here this week. While the American military is on frontlines overseas, he wants to ensure America's homeland is prepared to respond to an attack.

Immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bush said, federal officials acted quickly to increase the number of sky marshals, deploy hundreds of Coast Guardsmen to patrol ports, and station 8,000 National Guardsmen in the nation's airports. They worked to acquire antibiotics for large-scale treatment of anthrax and to support the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.

"All this came in response to a sudden emergency," he said. "Now we must undertake a sustained strategy for homeland defense."

The president said he would present his fiscal 2003 budget request to Congress next week. That request, he said, will include $48 billion in new defense spending and an increase of nearly $38 billion for homeland security.

If approved, the funding for homeland security would double the 2002 appropriation, the president noted. His budget request asks for money to complete the hiring of 30,000 new federal airport security workers and another 300 FBI agents, he said.

"It is the beginning of a homeland defense initiative which is going to last throughout my administration," Bush said. "It's the beginning of a cooperative effort."

There's much to do at home, he stressed. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies need to share information. They need to do a better job of alerting people that something might be going on in the neighborhood and ask for their help.

"We'll purchase new equipment to improve the safety of the mail, and protect the men and women who deliver our mail," he noted. "We'll begin a major program of research to combat the threat of bioterrorism.

"We'll modernize health labs throughout the country, improving their capacity to detect and treat outbreaks of disease. We will ensure that state and local firemen and police and rescue workers are prepared for terrorism. And we will do more to secure our borders."

The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon showed the nation how important police, firefighters and emergency medical teams are in times of crisis. In the event of a terrorist attack, these are the first to respond.

White House officials report the United States has more than 1 million firefighters, of which about 750,000 are volunteers. Local police departments have about 556,000 full-time employees, including about 436,000 sworn law enforcement personnel.

Sheriffs' offices report about 291,000 full-time employees, including about 186,000 sworn officers. More than 155,000 nationally registered emergency medical technicians are on duty.

Bush proposes spending $3.5 billion in fiscal 2003 to give these first responders money to buy equipment, train personnel and plan for contingencies.

o About $2 billion would go to first responders for personal protective gear, chemical and biological detection systems, interoperable communications gear and other equipment.

o About $1.1 billion would be used to train police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to respond and operate in chemical and biological environments.

o About $105 million would be used to support state and local governments in developing plans to prepare for and respond to a terrorist attack. Another $245 million would support an exercise program to improve response capabilities, practice mutual aid, and assess operations.

Federal funds would also be used to set up a "simple and quick" method for disbursing federal assistance to states and localities, and to foster mutual aid across the nation so that federal, state, local and volunteer networks can work together seamlessly. Another objective is to involve all Americans in programs to make their homes, communities, states and the nation safer and stronger.

Bush tasked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be the lead agency in coordinating federal efforts with local governments. "It is the right agency to choose," he said. "They understand local disaster and the local emergency."

The homeland security "challenge," Bush said, involves ensuring coordinating homeland defense efforts among the 36,000 local jurisdictions around the country. "How do we make sure that the communications equipment and the rescue equipment (are) compatible not only within a state but nationwide?" he asked as an example.

The $3.5 billion for first responders represents a "thousand percent increase over what our government has spent," Bush said. "It's absolutely necessary that we spend the money and that we spend it correctly."

Terrorists "still want to come after us," the president said. "We're their target. And we're going to respond and we're going to do deal with it by working together."

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