oversight

Combating Terrorism: Use of National Guard Response Teams Is Unclear

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-06-23.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                          United States General Accounting Office

GAO                       Testimony
                          Before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans’
                          Affairs, and International Relations, Committee on
                          Government Reform, House of Representatives


For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:00 a.m.,
EDT, Wednesday,
                          COMBATING TERRORISM
June 23, 1999


                          Use of National Guard
                          Response Teams Is Unclear
                          Statement of Mark E. Gebicke, Director, National Security
                          Preparedness Issues, National Security and International
                          Affairs Division




GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
          Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

          We are pleased to be here to discuss our report,1 which this Subcommittee
          is releasing today, on the National Guard Rapid Assessment and Initial
          Detection (RAID) teams. The Department of Defense (DOD) is creating the
          teams to assist local and state authorities in assessing situations
          surrounding weapons of mass destruction emergencies (WMD),2 advise
          these authorities regarding appropriate actions, and facilitate requests for
          assistance to expedite the arrival of additional state and federal military
          assets. As you know, over the past 3 years we have studied and reported on
          a number of issues concerning federal agencies’ programs and activities to
          combat terrorism for this Subcommittee and Representative Ike Skelton.
          For example, we reported in September 1997 that many federal agencies
          had duplicative or overlapping capabilities and missions in combating acts
          of terrorism,3 including incidents involving WMD. We have also reported
          that the many and increasing number of participants and programs in the
          evolving counter-terrorism area across the federal government pose a
          difficult management and coordination challenge to avoid program
          duplication, fragmentation, and gaps.

          After a brief summary, my testimony will address three issues in more
          detail. First, I will describe the role of the RAID teams in response plans as
          understood by local, state, and federal officials. Second, I will discuss
          other response assets that can perform similar functions to the RAID
          teams. Finally, I will discuss the RAID teams’ responsibilities and how they
          plan to meet these responsibilities.



Summary   While DOD has defined the specific mission for the RAID teams, the plans
          for these relatively new teams and their implementation continue to evolve.
          We found that there are differing views among federal and state officials on
          the role and use of the RAID teams and how they will fit into state and
          federal plans to respond to WMD incidents. Among the principal federal


          1
            Combating Terrorism: Use of National Guard Response Teams Is Unclear (GAO/NSIAD-99-110,
          May 21, 1999).

          2For purposes of this testimony, weapons of mass destruction are defined as biological, chemical, or
          radiological weapons.

          3
           Combating Terrorism: Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Implement National Policy and Strategy
          (GAO/NSIAD-97-254, Sept. 26, 1997).




          Page 1                                                                         GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
agencies involved, Army officials believe the teams can be valuable assets
to federal authorities, if needed, as part of the federal response plan. They
also believe that the teams will be a critical and integral part of the state
and local response to such weapons. In contrast, officials with the two
agencies responsible for managing the federal response to terrorist
incidents--the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)--do not see a role for the RAID
teams in the federal response. They question the need for the RAID teams
because of the federal structure already available to respond to WMD
incidents. Instead, they see the National Guard, whether in state or federal
status, responding with personnel and equipment as it does for natural
disasters and other emergencies. Differing views also exist at the state
level. Officials in some states without a RAID team question the teams’
utility primarily because of their response time; however, officials from a
state with a RAID team are very enthusiastic about the concept and are
making plans to use their team.

There are numerous local, state, and federal organizations that can perform
similar functions to the RAID teams. For example, there are over 600 local
and state hazardous materials (HAZMAT) teams in the United States that
assess and take appropriate actions in incidents almost daily involving
highly toxic industrial chemicals and other hazardous materials. As we
discussed in our November 1998 report to this Subcommittee,4 the
Domestic Preparedness Program is providing teams from the largest 120
cities in the United States with the opportunity to expand their capabilities
to counter WMD incidents. In addition, there are numerous military and
federal civilian organizations that can help local incident commanders deal
with WMD incidents by providing advice, technical experts, and equipment.

Local, state, and federal officials expressed a number of concerns about the
teams’ abilities to meet their mission and responsibilities. The most
significant and frequently mentioned is the time it would take the RAID
teams to respond to calls for assistance. Other concerns centered on
recruiting and retention, training, and operational issues. For example,
some officials believe that it will be difficult to fill vacancies in the highly
specialized positions on the RAID teams and that the members of the teams
will not get the type and level of training needed to maintain proficiency in
the technical skills and team skills. DOD believes that no “show-stopping”


4
  See our report Combating Terrorism: Opportunities to Improve Domestic Preparedness Program
Focus and Efficiency (GAO/NSIAD-99-3, Nov. 12, 1998) for a discussion of this program.




Page 2                                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
             training or operational issues have been identified to date. For example,
             because of the significant number of exercises conducted by federal, state,
             and local authorities, they believe there will be ample opportunities for the
             teams to exercise their skills.

             These issues further point to the need for a more focused and coordinated
             approach to the U.S. response to attacks involving WMD--an approach that
             capitalizes on existing capabilities, minimizes unnecessary duplication of
             activities and programs, and focuses funding on the highest priority
             requirements. Because of the differing views on the role and use of the
             RAID teams, the numerous organizations that can perform similar
             functions, and the potential operational issues that could impact the teams,
             our report recommends that the appropriate federal agencies determine
             the need for the teams before proceeding to expand the program in more
             states.



Background   Operationally, federal efforts to combat terrorism are organized along a
             lead agency concept. The Department of Justice, through the FBI, is
             responsible for crisis management of domestic terrorist incidents and for
             pursuing, arresting, and prosecuting the terrorists. State governments have
             primary responsibility for managing the consequences of domestic
             disasters, including major terrorist incidents; however, the federal
             government can support state and local authorities if they lack the
             capabilities to respond adequately. FEMA manages this federal support
             through a generic disaster contingency plan known as the Federal
             Response Plan, which outlines the roles, responsibilities, and emergency
             support functions of various federal agencies, including DOD, for
             consequence management. The National Coordinator for Security,
             Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism, created in May 1998 by
             Presidential Decision Directive 62, is responsible for coordinating the
             broad variety of relevant policies and programs, including such areas as
             counter-terrorism, preparedness, and consequence management for WMD.

             According to intelligence agencies, conventional explosives and firearms
             continue to be the weapons of choice for terrorists. Many familiar with
             industrial chemicals, such as officials from the FBI, the Environmental
             Protection Agency (EPA), the Coast Guard, and local HAZMAT teams,
             believe that industrial chemicals may also be a weapon of choice in
             terrorist attacks because they can be easily obtained and dispersed. They
             believe that terrorists are less likely to use chemical and biological
             weapons than conventional explosives, at least partly because these



             Page 3                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
materials are more difficult to weaponize and the results are unpredictable.
Agency officials have noted that terrorists’ use of nuclear weapons is the
least likely scenario, although the consequences could be disastrous.
According to the FBI, the threat from chemical and biological weapons is
low, but some groups and individuals of concern are beginning to show
interest in such weapons.

This fiscal year, DOD started fielding 10 RAID teams. According to Army
officials, the Secretary of Defense plans that the RAID teams will be
dedicated forces for domestic incidents. The initial 10 teams are located in
Washington, California, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia,
Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. Each of these states is within
a defined FEMA region and was selected based on state demographics,
proximity to Air National Guard units that could provide airlift, presence of
other federal/military assets, transportation networks, and other criteria.
Consideration was also given to the level of congressional interest in the
teams’ locations. Currently, the team is an asset of the state in which it is
located, but can be deployed as a regional asset to other states. The DOD
plan that created the teams suggested that there eventually should be a
RAID team in each state, territory, and the District of Columbia, for a total
of 54 teams. Until this occurs, the Army Guard is establishing RAID (Light)
teams in the other 44 locations to provide limited chemical/biological
response capabilities.

The Army Guard is responsible for implementing the concept and has
developed the plans for organizing, staffing, training, and equipping the
teams for their mission. State National Guard organizations receiving the
teams are hiring and training personnel in their individual skills. The
10 RAID teams are scheduled to be operational in January 2000. Funding
for the teams will be through the Army Guard and includes personnel costs
for the full-time positions, as well as training, equipment, and maintenance
costs. DOD allocated about $52 million for the RAID program in fiscal year
1999 and has requested about $37 million for fiscal year 2000. Specifically,
DOD allocated about $19.9 million from the fiscal year 1999 Defense
Appropriations Act for the first year of the program, which covered the
startup costs for the first 10 teams. An omnibus supplemental
appropriation followed, from which DOD allocated an additional
$19.2 million for RAID team equipment and $13 million to establish the
RAID (Light) teams. The DOD budget request for fiscal year 2000 includes
about $37.2 million to support the 10 existing RAID teams and create
5 more. It also includes about $0.5 million to support the RAID (Light)
teams.



Page 4                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
                         Each RAID team is to be staffed with 22 full-time National Guard members
                         organized into 6 functions: command, operations, administration and
                         logistics, communication, medical, and survey. Members are to be on call
                         24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All but the survey function have a primary
                         mission of RAID team support. For example, the medical unit primarily
                         provides medical support to RAID personnel, but can provide guidance to
                         the incident commander on the medical implications of a WMD event and
                         coordinate with health care facilities for follow-on support requirements.
                         Each function will have personnel trained to perform their particular
                         mission. There will be two survey units that have the mission of
                         conducting search, survey, surveillance, and sampling of a WMD incident
                         site and advising the incident commander of appropriate response
                         protocols. Members are to be cross-trained so that a full unit can be fielded
                         at any one time.



Differing Views on the   In designing the RAID teams, Army officials stated they tried to create a
                         capability that would detect and identify WMD, which is critical to any
Role and Use of          effective response effort, and according to these officials, was missing from
National Guard RAID      most local and state response units. According to these officials, having
                         the RAID team in the National Guard gives the state governor an asset that
Teams in Response        can be rapidly deployed to provide this initial WMD detection and
Plans                    identification support, as well as technical advice on handling WMD
                         incidents, to the local incident commander. Also, according to these
                         officials, it is less expensive to have one state asset trained and equipped to
                         deploy with this capability than to train and equip every HAZMAT team in
                         the state. Other advantages cited include using the teams to identify and
                         test new concepts and equipment in WMD detection and identification and
                         filling a very important force protection role for other National Guard units
                         deployed to assist in a WMD emergency.

                         Officials from the FBI and FEMA are concerned about the RAID team
                         concept and how the teams would fit into any federal WMD response. They
                         question the need for the RAID teams because of the federal structure
                         already available to respond to WMD incidents. The FBI officials are
                         concerned about a conflict between the RAID teams and their own
                         Hazardous Materials Response Unit or other federal assets, if all arrive with
                         the same capabilities and try to give advice to the incident commander.
                         FEMA officials are also concerned about the duplication of capabilities
                         between the RAID teams and the local and state HAZMAT teams, as well as
                         other federal responders involved in the Federal Response Plan.




                         Page 5                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
Because the RAID teams are just getting established, there is not much
information about the teams at the state and local levels. Therefore, we
contacted only a few states, including Pennsylvania, which has a RAID
team, and major metropolitan areas to obtain their opinion on the RAID
team concept. Officials from larger local jurisdictions usually have very
robust HAZMAT capabilities. Many of the officials we spoke with stated
that they see no use for the RAID teams because their own experienced
HAZMAT technicians can not only perform sufficient detection and
identification of WMD chemical agents to begin to handle the situation, but
also work in the stressful, dangerous environment. They also did not see
the RAID team providing advice on situation assessment and management,
which is another of the RAID team missions. These officials consider
themselves very experienced in managing emergencies that involve
hazardous chemicals and did not believe the RAID team could suggest
anything they did not already practice every day. However, some of the
officials did state that perhaps the RAID teams could be a useful asset for
those locations with little or no HAZMAT capability. One state official
stated that the RAID team could bring certain capabilities to a WMD event,
such as expertise on military agents. Officials from Pennsylvania are not
only integrating the RAID team into the state’s WMD response plan, but
also plan to use it to respond to more common HAZMAT emergencies.
According to DOD, other states have submitted requests for or expressed
an interest in fielding their own RAID team.

The state and federal officials stated that the National Guard in its
traditional role of assisting with personnel and equipment in natural
disasters and other emergencies would be necessary and invaluable in a
WMD emergency. They, as well as officials from the International
Association of Fire Chiefs, agreed that the detection and identification
capabilities in the RAID teams would be better placed in the local
responder community, since the local responders will be on the scene first
and need information quicker than the RAID team, or any federal assets,
could get there to provide. According to some officials, an investment in
more sophisticated detection and identification equipment and advanced
training for HAZMAT teams would benefit the teams’ response to all
HAZMAT emergencies, not just WMD incidents.




Page 6                                                   GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
Similar Capabilities     According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs, there are over
                         600 local and state HAZMAT teams that will be the first to respond to an
Exist at Local, State,   event involving hazardous materials, whether it is a WMD agent, industrial
and Federal Levels       chemical, or other material. Although these teams vary in capability,
                         ranging from basic to robust, they all have the basic capability to detect and
                         identify industrial chemicals and mitigate the effects of a chemical
                         emergency, either on their own or with help from nearby jurisdictions,
                         private contractors, or federal organizations. Among the federal
                         organizations that can help are EPA, Coast Guard, FBI, and DOD response
                         teams.

                         Federal, state, and local officials generally agree that a WMD incident
                         involving chemical agents would look like a major HAZMAT emergency. In
                         such scenarios, the local HAZMAT team would be the first to respond and
                         the local fire chief would usually be the incident commander. HAZMAT
                         technicians are trained to detect the presence of highly toxic industrial
                         chemicals and can use basic identification techniques and equipment to
                         give them sufficient information to begin to assess and respond to the
                         situation. For example, the chemical agent sarin is from the same
                         organophosphate compound family of chemicals as pesticides. HAZMAT
                         technicians can identify this chemical family using readily available kits.
                         The technicians are trained and experienced in the protocols used to
                         handle this chemical family and can begin to mitigate the chemical
                         immediately. The identification of biological agents requires a complex
                         process performed in a lab and cannot, as yet, be done on scene by any
                         unit, including the RAID teams. However, it is likely that detecting and
                         identifying an actual biological agent will involve the medical community
                         over a period of days rather than the HAZMAT community or the RAID
                         teams over a matter of hours.

                         If the local responders are unable to manage the situation or are
                         overwhelmed, the protocol is for the incident commander to contact
                         nearby communities and the state emergency management office for
                         assistance. The RAID team could be requested at that point. However, the
                         local commander also can access the National Response System hotline,
                         which is well publicized and known within the first responder community
                         for reporting hazardous material accidents and obtaining advice and/or
                         assistance from federal agencies like the FBI, the EPA, and Coast Guard.
                         Although the system is primarily to report emergencies involving chemical
                         or oil spills, it could also alert federal authorities to what could turn out to
                         be a WMD event. If the incident commander suspects that the event is a



                         Page 7                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
WMD incident, they can also call the Chemical and Biological hotline to get
information or federal assistance. This hotline links the caller to both the
Army’s Soldier and Biological Chemical Command for advice and the FBI
to begin the federal response. The incident commander can also call the
local office of the FBI, which would trigger the federal response.

EPA is responsible for preparing for and responding to emergencies
involving oil and hazardous substances, including radiological substances,
for all natural and manmade incidents, including those caused by terrorism.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the same kinds of incidents as they
impact the U.S. coastal waters. When a local or state responder calls via
the National Response System for EPA or Coast Guard assistance, the call
is immediately relayed to either agency’s on-scene coordinator. The EPA
has about 270 on-scene coordinators across the United States and the
Coast Guard has 44 Marine Safety Officers, who are coordinators. Most
coordinators try to deploy within a half-hour of notice. The coordinators
have HAZMAT training, can assist with situational assessment, and are the
point of contact for the coordination of federal HAZMAT efforts with the
local and state responders. If the state asks for assistance, the coordinator
can bring both contractor and federal assets to the scene.

Both EPA and the Coast Guard have other assets that respond to HAZMAT
emergencies with capabilities similar to the RAID teams. The EPA has two
Environmental Response Teams, stationed in New Jersey and Ohio, and 10
Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Teams that have similar
HAZMAT capabilities and access to contractor support. EPA’s National
Enforcement Investigations Center is the technical support center for EPA
enforcement and compliance assurance programs, providing
environmental forensic evidence collection, sampling, and analysis and can
also assist the FBI with these activities. EPA has 12 labs that provide
analytical support, field monitoring, and other environmental program
support. Five of these labs have deployable mobile units that can provide
chemical and biological analysis. Finally, the EPA has radiological
response capabilities to handle some aspects of nuclear/radiological
incidents.

The Coast Guard’s National Strike Force has three teams, located in New
Jersey, Alabama, and California. These teams each have 36 members
trained to the HAZMAT technician level, as well as trained members in the
Coast Guard Reserve, and are equipped to handle major oil and chemical
spills in coastal waters, but can also respond to other environmental
HAZMAT emergencies.



Page 8                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
As discussed previously, the FBI has the responsibility for crisis
management in a WMD event. Its Hazardous Materials Response Unit is
responsible for providing laboratory, scientific, and technical assistance to
FBI investigations involving hazardous materials, including WMD, and
environmental crimes. In support of both the FBI and the local incident
commander, the unit can also sample, package, and transport hazardous
material to labs for further analysis, provide decontamination capability
and situational assessment, and assist with technical scientific support and
advice. The unit can mobilize within 4 hours and has access to FBI aircraft
if the emergency is too far to drive to.

The FBI has a new initiative to put operational HAZMAT teams in 15 of its
56 field offices by June 1999. Each team will have 10 special agents trained
at the HAZMAT technician level. Although these agents will not function as
full-time HAZMAT technicians, they will be available as a quick response
asset for gathering evidence in environmental crimes and WMD events.
The team will be equipped to perform detection, monitoring, sampling, and
decontamination. By the end of 1999, the FBI plans to have 4-person teams
in the remainder of the field offices, trained to the HAZMAT technician
level, but with very little equipment. Eight of the larger FBI teams will be in
states that also have the National Guard RAID teams.

There are also highly specialized military assets to deal with the full range
of WMD. These include the Army’s Technical Escort Unit, with three
detachments stationed across the United States; the U.S. Marine Corps’
Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force stationed at Camp Lejune,
North Carolina; the Army’s 52nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams,
stationed across the United States; military laboratories, such as the U.S.
Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; and other assets,
such as the Mobile Analytical Response System from the Edgewood
Research, Development and Engineering Center. These units have been
positioned at large events such as the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games,
economic summits, and presidential inaugurations in case of a terrorist
attack.

There are 89 Air National Guard civil engineering units spread throughout
the 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia that the
state governors or federal officials can access to help in a WMD event.
These civil engineering units--Prime Base Engineering Emergency Forces,
known as “Prime BEEF” units--have the wartime mission of supporting
sustained air operations during a WMD attack and mitigating the
consequences of an attack. The Air Guard also has 78 Prime BEEF fire



Page 9                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
                          fighting units that are trained in handling hazardous materials and 10
                          Explosive Ordnance Disposal units that are capable of handling WMD
                          devices. There are plans to increase the number of Disposal units to 44 in
                          the next 5 years. According to Air Guard officials, these skilled units could
                          be of great use to local incident commanders in a WMD attack on civilian
                          targets, if their equipment and training were upgraded. This would allow
                          these units to be available to the states, not only in a WMD event, but also
                          in a major HAZMAT emergency.

                          The military services, both active and reserve, have units that could be used
                          in a WMD emergency. For example, the U.S. Army Reserve has 63 percent
                          of the chemical units in the U.S. Army, including 100 chemical
                          reconnaissance/decontamination elements stationed across the United
                          States that can perform basic detection and identification of chemical
                          agents as well as decontamination operations. The U.S. Army Reserve also
                          has two chemical companies that are specifically designed for nuclear,
                          chemical, and biological reconnaissance and contains the only biological
                          detection company in the Army today that is ready to deploy. Under the
                          authority of Army Regulation 500-60, a Reserve commander can respond to
                          an emergency in the local area when there is imminent danger of loss of life
                          or critical infrastructure. Accordingly, the local authorities could request
                          assistance from the local Reserve commander in a WMD emergency
                          without an official deployment of the military.



Concerns About RAID       Our discussions with local, state, and federal officials and our analysis of
                          the information regarding the RAID teams surfaced a number of concerns
Teams’ Ability to Fully   that the teams may not be able to meet their mission and responsibilities.
Meet Their                The most significant and frequently mentioned is the time it would take the
                          RAID team to respond to an incident. Other concerns centered on
Responsibilities          recruiting and retention, training, and operational issues.

                          The goal for the RAID team, either in part or as a whole, is to be able to
                          deploy to a WMD incident within 4 hours of notice. All local, state, and
                          federal officials we met with expressed concern that this time frame would
                          get the team there too late to be useful. They stated that, for the incident
                          commander to benefit from the information they could produce, the RAID
                          team would be needed at the scene within the first 1 to 2 hours. After that
                          time, the local/state HAZMAT teams could have the basic detection and
                          identification information that would allow them to begin to handle the
                          situation. Then, the incident commander would either be in control of the
                          situation and not need additional assessment input from the RAID team or



                          Page 10                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
so completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation that the FBI
and FEMA already would have been notified, and in coordination with the
state, federal assets already would be on their way to the scene.

The RAID teams will have dedicated vehicles to transport them and their
equipment to the incident. The teams will also have access to Army
National Guard helicopters and small, fixed-wing aircraft that could carry
some team members with hand-held equipment. The remainder of the
team and equipment would then follow in the vehicles. To transport the
entire team to a distant location within the state or region, with all its
equipment and vehicles, would require military airlift, like C-130 aircraft.
However, there are no plans to dedicate ground crews, flight crews, or
aircraft for on-call, immediate response to a RAID team deployment. If Air
National Guard or Air Force aircraft were required to transport the RAID
teams, authorization would have to be obtained from the U.S.
Transportation Command.

The lack of dedicated airlift for the RAID teams adds to the concern about
the delayed arrival. Some federal assets, including the FBI’s Hazardous
Materials Response Unit, have immediate access to aircraft and flight
crews. The EPA and Coast Guard On-Scene Coordinators have the ability
to contract for civilian aircraft to get their assets, as well as contractor
assets, to a scene quickly.

As a result of a 1993 restructuring, combat support and combat service
support functions were concentrated in the Army Reserve and combat
functions in the Army National Guard. Therefore, except for the RAID
teams, there are few promotion opportunities for chemical and medical
specialists in the rest of the Army Guard. Some officials expressed concern
that the Guard would not be able to maintain a “pipeline” of highly trained
individuals to fill vacancies on the RAID teams, making it necessary for the
teams to operate at less than full capability when vacancies occur. For
example, it may be difficult to find the highly trained personnel with the
necessary education and skills required to operate the sophisticated
equipment planned for the RAID teams, such as the mass spectrometer.
According to DOD, there are ample units in the Guard and Reserve from
which to draw qualified candidates for the RAID teams and that can
provide opportunities for team members who want to leave for
promotions.

According to local and federal HAZMAT team leaders, it may be difficult for
the RAID team members to maintain their proficiency after they receive



Page 11                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
              their training. For example, the teams will have a mobile lab with very
              sophisticated, technical identification equipment. Many local HAZMAT
              team leaders stated that they would not have some of this equipment in
              their inventory, particularly the mass spectrometer, because it requires
              highly trained personnel to use and maintain it effectively. The federal
              HAZMAT team leaders stated that, while some of them have a mass
              spectrometer, it takes almost daily use to maintain competency and
              accuracy, which the RAID team may not get. All of the HAZMAT team
              leaders expressed concern that the RAID team members would lose their
              HAZMAT expertise if they did not have opportunities to continually
              practice their skills in more than just a simulated environment. All of the
              leaders stated that this on the job training is also critical to effective team
              operation. The stressful situation of an actual HAZMAT emergency cannot
              be replicated in a classroom or exercise and team members need to know
              that everyone on the team can operate in that environment. The
              Pennsylvania Guard officer responsible for developing that state’s RAID
              team stated that the Guard was concerned about this and realized the need
              to create these on-the-job opportunities, not only to maintain proficiency
              but to keep the team members from leaving to work on local HAZMAT
              teams. He added that the Guard was working with local HAZMAT teams so
              that the RAID team could participate in local training exercises and, at
              some later point, perhaps respond with the local teams on actual HAZMAT
              emergencies. According to DOD, there are a significant number of
              exercises conducted by federal, state, and local authorities that provide
              ample opportunities for the RAID teams to exercise their skills.

              All of the HAZMAT team leaders discussed the need to have sufficient team
              members cross trained in each position to be able to field a complete team
              when an emergency arises. This process also alleviates the concern of
              having the entire team on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which could
              cause significant hardships for the RAID team members as they try to
              maintain normal lives. The RAID team survey function is the only part of
              the team that has multiple individuals performing the same job. All other
              members of the RAID team who could not respond to a deployment call
              would create a loss of capability for the team. Also, the RAID team will
              have only one set of equipment for both training and deployment, which
              could make it difficult to both train on the equipment and be operationally
              ready to deploy.



Conclusions   In conclusion, I would like to summarize our three major findings and
              reiterate the recommendation in our report. First, the fact that local, state,



              Page 12                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
                   and federal officials responsible for implementing emergency response
                   plans have differing views regarding the role for the RAID teams suggests
                   that further clarification of their expected role and use is needed. Second,
                   the fact that the RAID teams have capabilities similar to other local, state,
                   and federal emergency response teams suggests that these teams might
                   unnecessarily duplicate existing capabilities. Finally, concerns about
                   whether they could arrive on the scene in a timely manner as well as other
                   concerns related to recruiting, retention, and training raise questions about
                   whether they could, in fact, effectively execute their responsibilities and
                   missions. In view of these questions, we believe that a pause is warranted
                   to more fully evaluate the need for these teams and more fully explore how
                   they would fit into the total WMD response framework. Accordingly, we
                   are recommending that the National Coordinator for Security,
                   Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism—in conjunction with the
                   FBI, FEMA, and DOD—determine whether the teams are, in fact, needed
                   before proceeding to expand the program in more states.

                   Mr. Chairman, that concludes our prepared statement. We would be happy
                   to answer any questions at this time.



Contact and        For future contacts regarding this testimony, please call Mr. Mark Gebicke
                   at (202) 512-5140. Individuals making key contributions to this testimony
Acknowledgment     include Robert Pelletier and Ann Borseth.




(702011)   Leter   Page 13                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-184
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