[WMD = Weapons of Mass Destruction. Forest]



Terrorism Incident Response

No single agency has the authority or capabilities to act alone in addressing a terrorist incident. The following figure, taken from the Terrorism Incident Annex of the Federal Response Plan, depicts the various levels and types of Federal and State response to a WMD incident. Federal and State response is differentiated as crisis management and consequence management. Crisis management includes those efforts prior to a WMD incident, including prevention and threat assessment. Technical support and various other areas are addressed at both the Federal and State levels. The management of the consequences are State responsibility.


Figure 1: Aspects of Terrorism Incident Response



Crisis Management


Crisis Management includes measures to identify, acquire and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent and/or resolve a threat or act of terrorism. The laws of the United States assign primary authority to the federal government to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism…


 The Federal government is assigned primary authority for anticipating, preventing, and investigating an act of terrorism. These efforts are termed as crisis management. Crisis management addresses the Federal aspects of a WMD incident, with State and local support being supplemental. The Department of Justice (DoJ) through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has the lead for domestic crisis management. They are responsible for the following in efforts in crisis management:

Over forty different agencies are involved in the management of terrorist incidents by providing expertise, staffing and equipment. The FBI is supported, as needed, by several agencies of these agencies such as: the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), the Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Search Team, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Team.



Once a WMD terrorist incident is declared, the FBI may deploy a Domestic Emergency Support Team (DEST) to the incident site. A DEST is a rapidly deployable team of trained experts sent to assist the FBI investigation at the site of a WMD incident. DEST members are chosen according to the nature of the incident. A DEST chooses among members from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the DoD, and other agencies capable of addressing chemical/biological and nuclear/radiological incidents. The classified version of PPD 39 explains the roles of the DEST in detail.


National Guard Role

Under Title 10 provisions, the National Guard could react to a WMD incident. The DOD Tiger Team called for the formation of National Guard Rapid Response Assessment Teams...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. These teams will support the Federal Response Plan to act as the "point of the military response spear". Training and equipping of these teams would be through the Army.

The Deputy Defense Secretary has approved the teams, called Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection (RAID) elements. RAID elements will advise emergency responders on the nature of an attack.



Consequence Management


"Everybody wants to catch the fish but nobody wants to clean them"


Consequence Management includes measures to protect public health and safety, restore essential government services, and provide emergency relief to governments, businesses and individuals affected by the consequences of terrorism. The laws of the United States assign primary authority to the States to respond to the consequences of terrorism.


In the transition from crisis management to consequence management, the lead Federal agency shifts from FBI to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA manages the support provided by other Federal agencies and the coordination with State and local authorities. FEMA policy relies upon the Federal Response Plan to coordinate Federal agency support for consequence management.

The State government is assigned primary authority for consequence management of a terrorist incident, with Federal support being supplemental. Restoration of essential services, emergency relief, and public health and safety are some issues of consequence management.

The following figure depicts the National Guard's roles in State and Federal consequence management. At the State level, the National Guard can respond to a WMD incident when called upon by the State Office of Emergency Services (SOES) under Title 32 provisions. This response is governed by a State's Response Plan. At the Federal level, the National Guard can be called as an element of the Department of Defense under Title 10 provisions.



The first responders on the scene of a disaster are the local police, fire, and/or rescue personnel. The senior responder with the primary role (e.g. Police chief) generally assumes the position of Incident Commander.

If the disaster exceeds local response capabilities, the first responders contact the State Office of Emergency Services (SOES). SOES executes the State's Response Plan.

SOES may request the National Guard (under Title 32 provisions), or it may request Federal assistance. Should it request Federal assistance, it would contact FEMA. FEMA is responsible for the coordination of the State and Federal agencies overseeing the incident.

Federal resources are managed by the Federal coordinating office (FCO). The FCO responds to a State request for Federal assistance by assigning it to the Emergency Response Team (ERT).

If the ERT is unable to provide the necessary response, it may request military assistance from the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO).

Should military assistance be needed, it is provided by the designated CINC. The CINC supports the FCO through the DCO and the Defense Coordinating Element.

If necessary, the CINC may activate a Response Task Force (RTF) to oversee the command and control of military personnel.


Go back the List of Laws

Go back to the Uhuh opening Title Page