In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced this bill to strengthen civil defense preparedness across the country by expanding existing DHS terrorism and catastrophic event grant programs to include improving nuclear, biological, and chemical attack preparedness:
“The false ballistic missile alert sent out in Hawai‘i earlier this year, and the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, reveal major gaps in preparedness measures and alert plans across all levels of our government. Addressing this must be taken seriously and made a priority in Hawai‘i and across the country. My bipartisan legislation provides the means to support state and local governments to make these critical investments for our communities.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) added:
“This bipartisan bill will help prioritize Department of Homeland Security grant funding for communities that need to improve training, fortify or create shelter space, and purchase new equipment. Hawaii and many other municipalities around the country will benefit from increased access to federal funding to support community preparedness and response.”
In testimony to Congress on March 22, 2018, Kenneth Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, stated that the Department of Defense is already prepared with “unique and flexible capabilities to manage and resolve WMD crises rapidly and decisively” both at home and abroad:
“DoD is postured to assist civil authority efforts to detect, identify, neutralize, dismantle, and dispose of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) threats before they can reach our nation’s borders and, if they succeed in penetrating our borders, before they can be employed against our nation. DoD has developed a wide range of CBRN-response capabilities and continuously plans, trains and exercises so that DoD is prepared to employ these capabilities rapidly in support to civil authorities to help save and sustain lives in the aftermath of a CBRN incident. The DoD CBRN Response Enterprise – approximately 18,735 Active, Guard, and Reserve military personnel – is postured to respond within hours of a CBRN incident with critical capabilities such as detection and assessment of CBRN hazards; casualty search and extraction; casualty decontamination; emergency medical, patient triage, trauma care, and surgical and intensive medical care; fatality recovery; ground and rotary-wing air patient movement; security; command and control; engineering; logistics; transportation; and aviation lift.”
There are five cosponsors of this bill, including three Republicans and two Democrats.
Of Note: The 2018 Intelligence Community Worldwide Threat Assessment notes that “[Other nations’] efforts to modernize, develop, or acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, or their underlying technologies constitute a major threat to the security of the United States, its deployed troops, and its allies.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate since July 2006. The Directorate’s purpose is to build a cohesive and coordinated approach to incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material — with a focus on prevention of these attacks. It has full oversight over initiatives and program activities — such as prevention, preparedness, countermeasures, investigations, and operational response — as well as the ability to lead field personnel.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps - Lance Cpl. Devan Gowans / Public Domain)