Conference Report on the

FY97 Department of Defense Appropriations Act

House Report 104-863

September 28, 1996

The conferees included a general provision (Section 8128) which amends Senate language providing funds for defense against weapons of mass destruction. The conferees agree to provide $100,000,000 for defense against weapons of mass destruction, including domestic preparedness, interdiction of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, control and disposition of weapons of mass destruction and related materials threatening the United States, coordination of policy and countermeasures against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and miscellaneous related programs, projects, and activities. The funds are available for transfer to, and merger with, funds appropriated elsewhere in this Act.

Domestic preparedness against terrorist threats, especially chemical or biological attacks against U.S. civilian targets, is of paramount importance to the nation. Terrorist organizations have shown the willingness and capability to operate within the continental United States, and a terrorist chemical attack in the Tokyo subway system has already occurred.

While the armed services have developed capabilities to evaluate chemical/biological threats, respond to such threats, and protect and treat affected personnel, these capabilities have been developed primarily to protect military personnel in operational situations. The conferees believe much can and should be done to transfer existing military chemical/biological warfare expertise and technology to our civilian "first responders" in charge of protecting the civilian population.

The conferees applaud the first small step in this direction with the establishment of the "Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force" in the Marine Corps which has rapid deployment capability. Coupled with its unique civilian advisory group, the CBIRF will become the nation's first completely self-contained chemical and biological response force. The bill includes $10,000,000 to upgrade the equipment of this unit, including funds for prepositioned equipment at key domestic locations. However, there is no doubt that much more needs to be done to properly train and equip "first responders" around the country.

The conferees direct the Secretary, in conjunction with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Energy, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other pertinent federal, state and local officials, to submit a report to Congress (in both classified and unclassified forms) that:

(1) assesses the types and characteristics of chemical and biological threats against U.S. citizens and Government assets in the U.S. and the capability of civilian agencies to respond to these threats;

(2) identifies the unmet training, equipment, and other requirements of civilian first responders necessary to provide a basic capability to respond to a domestic chemical or biological attack;

(3) identifies DoD chemical/biological warfare information, expertise, and equipment that could be adapted to civilian application to help meet identified requirements; and

(4) presents a detailed plan for DoD assistance in equipping, training and providing other necessary assistance for first responders to such incidents. The conferees believe that the best approach for implementing this effort may be a regional pilot program to demonstrate and test the best methods to upgrade the training and equipment of first responders.

The conferees also believe the National Guard is well suited for having a leading role in implementing a plan to provide training, technology and other DoD capabilities to local first responders. The conferees endorse the directive in the House Report (H. Rpt. 104-617, pp. 138-9) to review the Department's ability to provide assistance in this regard and direct that the report outlined by the House be incorporated into this comprehensive review effort. The Secretary shall submit this report to the congressional defense committees by not later than May 1, 1997.

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