Local Issues

By Thomas Duffy / November 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department announced today it is setting up a new advisory panel to assess the department's ability to support local civil agencies in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident. Congress asked for the creation of the panel in the 2008 Defense Authorization Act.

According to the bill, the panel must undertake a thorough review of several areas, including DOD's ability to conduct operations in the event of an attack; the adequacy of existing plans and programs for training and equipping forces to carry out such operations; and the various policies and plans the department has today to support civil authorities if an attack happens.

Congress also asked that the panel take a look at and make recommendations on “whether there should be any additional Weapons of Mass destruction Civil Support Teams, beyond the 55 already authorized and, if so, how many additional Civil Support teams, and where they should be located.”

In a Federal Register notice issued today, DOD said the new advisory panel will be made up of a chairperson and no more than 19 additional members. It will have the authority to create subcommittees. The full panel is to deliver a report to the defense secretary and the congressional defense committees within 12 months of reaching its findings and making recommendations.