Colonel Bridges: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Our purpose here today is to provide you some background information on military medical force protection programs and the role of the Department in integrating National Guard and Reserve forces into our response to incidents involving potential terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction.
Our first briefer will discuss our overall military anthrax vaccination program, and our second official will discuss the joint vaccine acquisition program, or be available to take your questions concerning that $322 million contract that was mentioned in a recent newspaper article.
Following their remarks and a question and answer period, our third briefer will provide you some information on the ten rapid assessment elements and their formation that was announced earlier today by the Secretary.
Before I turn over the podium, I would remind you that this particular briefing and all answers are attributable to Senior Military Officials or Officers. I would also tell you that we will have some fact sheets as well as the Blue Top announcements from earlier today. I'd like to point your attention to photographs that we have of the Secretary and the Chairman getting an anthrax shot in their offices. These are available on DefenseLINK. If you have a need to get these, our folks at DDI can help you get these pictures for your organizations.
With that I believe I will turn it over to the first and second military officers.
Briefer: Good afternoon everyone. I've briefed most of you before. Let me just make a very quick opening comment and then open it up for questions.
You've all gotten the news release that announces Secretary Cohen's decision to begin the immunization program with anthrax vaccine for the entire force. That's based on his assurance that his four preconditions have been met with enough of the vaccine to begin that whole program. Those four preconditions, as you'll recall, are supplemental testing of the vaccine; assured tracking of immunizations, that is having an automated tracking system in place; operation and communication plans, educational plans, how we're going to do this throughout the force in place; and finally, the completion of an external review done by, in this case, Dr. Burrows of Yale University. I believe we've talked about that before.
Those have all been completed, and it was based on meeting those four preconditions that he allowed us to proceed in March with the in-theater immunization of folks in Southwest Asia. That has proceeded now with the immunization of plus or minus 40,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, many of whom have received not only their second but even their third shot, so he has now expanded this to the total force to be phased in over the next number of years. It's unclear how long that will take, but probably in the neighborhood of five to seven years before we finally complete it. And of course it will actually never be completed because as new folks come into the force we'll just proceed with that.
But the goal is to have everyone -- active and reserve -- immunized with the fully FDA-approved, Food and Drug Administration approved, safe and effective vaccine that our other briefer can speak to is produced at the Michigan Biologic Products Institute [MBPI].
That's all I have to open, and would invite any questions, unless the other briefer would like to give an opening statement as well.
Q: What can you tell us about any side effects that have been suffered so far? There have been some sort of anecdotal reports of flu-like symptoms, some vomiting.
A: Near as we can tell, we have been unable to relate any but local soreness kinds of side effects to the vaccine itself. Certainly there have been people who have received the vaccine who have a day or two later come down with a cold or sore throat. That kind of thing, perhaps even gastrointestinal symptoms. Nothing that we can relate to the vaccine.
Certainly, at the time of administration or in the few hours following that, we have had no serious side effects. No anaphylaxis, no other kinds of reactions that one might anticipate.
Remember, this is a killed bacteria vaccine. It's not a live vaccine, so you would expect fewer side effects than, for example, with the typhoid vaccine that gives you a sore arm and fever the next day, that sort of thing.
Q: Could you tell us some of the progress of MBPI and the anthrax facility. It's shut down at the moment for renovation.
A: It is.
Q: Can you tell us how much DoD is contributing to that renovation, and can you tell us the future of the plant, because it's up for sale as I Understand.
A: Sure, I can cover both of those.
DoD is paying for the renovation because the fermentation line, or the production line I guess is a better term for the public. The production line actually belongs to Department of Defense. The equipment there belongs to us. Therefore, we are paying for the renovation of that particular equipment.
The easiest way to explain why I was doing the renovation, and I think that needs to be clear on why I was doing it because there's been a lot in the press with regard to it. We put in the vast majority of that equipment during or shortly after the Persian Gulf War. To build the DoD stockpile I've been running that facility now almost continuously since the end of the Gulf War to produce the DoD stockpile. When you look at the amount of time that's gone by, you're talking six or seven years that I've had most of those fermenters in production.
We had reached the DoD stockpile requirement. It made prudent sense to at that particular time, having reached the stockpile, to in fact renovate the facility. So we paid for that renovation.
Q: How much did it cost?
A: The renovation's going to cost about $1.8 million, in that neighborhood. There are some other figures out there, and that is with regard to something called refacilitization. To meet the new overall DoD requirement, because of the number of people we are now going to be immunizing, I have to increase the capability at that particular facility. In increasing that capability, I'm going to double what they currently can produce. To do that, I will build another production line, same number of fermenters, have to put in the associated ancillary equipment. We plan on doing that between now and 2004 to meet the DoD requirement. That will come in somewhere around $15 million to do that.
That was the first part of the question. What was the second half of the question?
Q: The second half was the future of MBPI, I heard that it was up for sale?
A: It is in fact...
Q: ...DoD declined to buy it, was offered it but declined to buy it.
A: Actually, DoD was not offered to buy it. It is currently under consideration by the state and the state is very, very close to making the decision as to who the eventual owner of MBPI will be. And I mean very close.
Q: You talk about a stockpile. I gather that that's disbursed around the country and around the world for use as needed? Is that the idea? How are you managing that? And if there were to be an attack in the United States, is that stockpile subject to being tapped for civilian use?
A: Stockpile requirements, when you work with the FDA, the stockpile is actually maintained at Michigan Biologic Products Institute. In a normal process, if you're producing vaccines or if you're producing antibiotics, you produce them, they're labeled, they're shipped, they're used, and they're usually used before their shelf life. If you're going to stockpile something, it's going to have to be tested periodically.
The FDA asks and requires that if you're going to stockpile it, stockpile it at the manufacturer who produced it who in fact can replicate the testing criteria that they use for original release. So our doses are stored at MBPI.
When there's a requirement, as we have now, to immunize portions of the force, we will then ship from Michigan Biologic Products Institute to the appropriate location so that they can administer the vaccine.
Currently that vaccine and the stockpile that we have was built for Department of Defense to handle a contingency for our soldiers. Has it been used? Has Department of Defense in fact used some of the vaccines outside of Department of Defense? Yes.
Q: So where is supplemental testing being done? Is it being done at the MBPI facility or are lots going somewhere else?
A: Supplemental testing is being done at the MBPI facility, but we have an independent oversight of that particular testing that's currently being done. We did that on purpose because the manufacturer has to do the supplemental testing. We've asked a team, in fact an organization called MitreTek to oversee the testing, to monitor the testing, and then provide us a report as to the validity of the testing that's being done. So far we have received back from MitreTek what I will refer to as lot release, but which really is approval of the supplemental testing that was done by MBPI on enough doses so that we in fact can start the beginning of this plan. We will finish up supplemental testing by about November of this year.
Q: There are six shots in this course, is that right?
A: Yes. The full course is at 0, 2, 4 weeks, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months with yearly boosters thereafter. The FDA requires that the full six shots be given to assure full protection, though there is substantial protection with less than the full series.
Q: And it's strictly a vaccine. In other words, once somebody's exposed, this stuff is no good to them if they have already been getting shots. It's not a remedy, it's not an antidote.
A: Oh, I see what you're saying. No, No. It is strictly a vaccine to afford protection before exposure.
Q: Are you happy to continue to do business with them? I'm thinking of the FDA report, in particular the one of February of this year, which (inaudible). Real doubts about their quality control.
A: Yes, we're happy to do business with MBPI. Second, on the FDA inspection, the way I try and classify that, if you've ever seen a Department of the Army Inspector General Report of an organization, the 483s which is what you're referring to, are basically the hand sheets that folks do on the site. They're the ones, they list all the good, all the bad, and go into some excruciating detail for the individual operators who are there.
What's important is what comes from the FDA and what they have to say about the facility. That letter, which I think many of you have seen, paints a very interesting picture. The first is the strategic plan that both MBPI and Department of Defense worked on. As they have stated, they consider that to be a success. It's doing exactly what it needs to do to keep MBPI in operation and also to make it a success in compliance with FDA requirements. Those are key to us, that letter. The 483? Many of the comments that are in the 483 are actually questions that are listed in there specifically with regard to doing stockpiling.
Of interest to note, as I mentioned before, usually you produce, you label, you ship and it's consumed. Stockpiling is not a normal thing that's done. So a number of the pieces you saw there were questions with regard to that. And quite frankly, both the FDA and the Department of Defense are building up a knowledge base on how we do stockpiling of fairly significant quantities of vaccines.
Q: It was, just to be sure, it was more than questions, obviously. I mean, that had, over here on page nine, they had questions about the contamination of sublots, and then the amalgamation of those contaminated sublots into full lots. That was more than a question, that was a statement. That was what they found.
A: In some of the cases what they looked at and part of what they were looking for was paperwork that was involved. In one case which is directly referenced in there, but you can't tell from looking at it, the individual who did the testing actually contaminated the outside of it and it was skin contamination from him. When it was rested, and the paperwork wasn't shown to the FDA, it was shown later in that when it's off of quarantine. What it showed was in fact the individual was the one that caused the problem, and there was no problem with that particular lot.
Testing and retesting, paperwork and validity of paperwork are key issues. In many of those they didn't see the paperwork. The paperwork has to go back to the FDA for revalidation of what's there. We, in fact, have started through that process and so has MBPI.
A: I would add because, I think, the points that you raise are good ones, and even with the clarifications I think it raises some serious questions. Had Secretary Cohen not insisted on having that supplemental testing, I think we would have a credibility problem that we don't because of the testing. We know that the vaccine that we're administering is not only FDA approved, but has had the supplemental testing for safety, for potency, for purity, for stability, and so we've really been very fortunate in having that assurance.
Q: You mentioned that it takes 18 months to get through the whole course, and you've got about 40,000 troops so far who are in this course of treatment. Are you at a point yet where you're able to get ahead of the curve, in Southwest Asia, where forces that might be deploying six months or a year from now have begun to get this vaccine so they'll be more fully immunized? Or are you still catching up with folks who are already there and already in their exposure, if you will?
A: Almost every one who is there... Well, everyone who is there who is within the window of time where we give it has begun their immunizations. We have in some cases, for example in Germany, actually begun the immunizations on those who were going. That is we extended it from just doing the immunizations to those already in theater to groups of those who were scheduled to go into theater. The Germany experience, again, was a success as far as us being able to do that. There are other places, too, where that's happening.
It's still limited, though, to those going into the theater, or it was now until the Secretary made his decision and signed the memo authorizing it for the full force.
We now have about 90 days to start up the program, and so, sometime in August we'll begin phasing that in to the rest of the force, not just those going to the Gulf. So I guess that's kind of a long answer to your question, but yeah, we are ahead of it a bit.
Q: Anthrax is the one that you hear about a lot. Are there other biological agents that you guys are thinking about...
A: Sure, absolutely. There's plague, there's Q-Fever, there's Tularemia, there's all sorts of botulinum, other agents that we worry about. Part of the problem is that we don't have fully approved, well developed vaccines from them, so we have programs in place to try to anticipate what kind of threat there is. We sort of know that from intelligence sources. And then to target the development of vaccines or other protective measures.
Q: When they come on-line, you'll start vaccinating folks?
A: I would assume so. That decision hasn't been made and wouldn't be until it goes through all of the FDA testing and so forth and so on.
Q: You don't have vaccines for those, you also don't have antidotes available for most of them. In other words, troops are out there now, if these weapons were to be used, are essentially defenseless against them.
A: Most of the organisms that I've mentioned have some kind... Well, first of all, let me say that against chemical or biologic, you have to have an integrated program of detection, protection, and that's individual protection -- the MOPP gear, the collective protection in the tight tents and all of that sort of thing. Most are responsive to antibiotics at some level or another. Not everything, but most are. There is for botulinum an anti-toxin and so forth. Actually a lot of the things have some vaccines in certain levels of development. Plague, I mentioned actually, does have an FDA approved vaccine, and most of the rest of them, something is being done to try to develop that.
Q: Anthrax it's 99 out of 100 will die. Do they have the same sort of potency?
A: It varies dramatically as to how it's used, how it's disbursed. They're all very, very different.
Q: Did you have any plans to start vaccinating against the plague since a vaccine available?
A: No, a decision has not been made, and there's a variety of reasons for that. It has to do with the assessment of threat, it has to do with the efficacy of the vaccine.
I believe there are some nations who do vaccinate, although I'm not even certain of that.
Q: A question on the tracking system. Where are the records being held on the immunizations themselves? For example, on the ships -- the STENNIS, the INDEPENDENCE -- are records kept on ship for the immunizations...?
A: Three ways. Individual keeps their yellow shot record. Those of you in the military remember that with some nostalgia, no doubt, that you carry around, keep with your passport, all of that kind of thing. The second one is, it's in their permanent medical record that's maintained at their medical treatment facility whether it's on board ship or back at Fort Stewart or wherever. The third thing is, it goes into an automated system. The three services have their own specific individual systems which then collectively store the information in DEERS, the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System. And then, if a Marine gets a shot at an Army facility, that will go into DEERS and when the Marine is put on board ship, then the ship system can pull down that Marine's name by social security number or by name or by unit from DEERS and say aha, needs another immunization. So it's all centrally stored that way.
Q: There been no problems so far with that tracking system, as such?
A: Yeah, there have been some problems. Largely it's worked well with the usual kind of things. If you go out in the field, or if a ship is not in contact with the satellite that can upload, you have to batch the things, and it takes a few days sometimes for it to get into that system. But so far -- and we've looked at this, and we track it very, very carefully -- everyone who has gotten their immunization is in the system and we can look at it in near, not quite real, but near real time.
Q: Some months ago there was a brief here and we were shown what looked like a dog tag that was supposed to be electronically implemented. Is that where it is? Are those being used now?
A: No, not yet. These are still in prototype testing. Actually, all of the commanders in chief of the various CINCdoms came in with their requirements for what data goes on this. Based on that we put a proposal out requesting bids, and five companies bid on doing further development on this. We're picking one right now. We intend to begin field testing -- we've done the prototype. Field testing on that this summer and deploy it hopefully summer of '99.
Q: Are you going to stick with a single manufacturer for anthrax? There was talk of cranking up (inaudible) at one point.
A: Yes. Currently, unless someone else wants to get involved in production of anthrax vaccine. It's very, very expensive. Anthrax, because of the nature of anthrax, requires some very specialized facilities. If someone else were to start up business, obviously we would be interested. But it would take five to seven years for them to build a facility, then to have that facility validated by the FDA. It's a very long process to build one.
Q: For each soldier/sailor, now much does this whole course of shots cost?
A: Under the current vaccine, I'm paying $3.67 a dose, so multiply that times six. Plus or minus $20 for the full series.
Q: Maybe you've already answered, talked about this, but you were obviously the American government's expert in making these vaccines and administering them. If we wanted to go to the civilian population as some have talked about, have you been approached on that question? Do you have any role in that?
A: No. We've not been approached. There's been some very preliminary people asking questions about the joint vaccine acquisition program, would it be capable of assuming a larger role and a larger mission. It's a prime systems contract. We would have to take a look at it. We have to know what the requirement is going to be. It was set up to meet a DoD requirement which in the big scheme of things is very small when we start talking about our whole nation. So there would be a number of things that we would have to look at, but no, there's been no direct...
Q: It would have to be many, many times as big to...
A: To give you an idea, though, just to reflect. We have between six and seven million doses of anthrax available to us. That sounds like a large number, and sounds like a large volume.
The cold room storage facility that I have those doses in, in ten dose vials, is only twice as big as this podium right here. When you think about it, it's a liquid, and we're talking about five mil per shot... We're not talking about a tremendous amount of vaccine here. In a pharmaceutical business, seven million doses is not a lot. In fact there's not a lot of profit to be made in seven million doses.
Q: In the event of an anthrax attack on the civilian population would there be any purpose in giving people the vaccine in short notice? Would it have any effect at all over a matter of a few days?
A: It may well, and there's ongoing research to try to answer the question as to how late just before or even after exposure. Will this have value, what's its value in combination with certain antibiotics. Anthrax, unless it's resistant, is very responsive to penicillin, for example, tetracycline, cyprofloxicin. Some information that some of the anthrax that might have been weaponized by some nations may be resistant to antibiotics, though near as we can tell, the vaccine seems that it would be effective against various strains of vaccine. I believe we actually talked about that in a previous briefing. So a lot of the questions such as that remain, but probably there would be some value to it.
Q: Isn't that kind of contingent on medical authorities actually recognizing the illness as anthrax?
A: That's why detection is so critical to us, as near real time as possible.
Q: If I worked in a slaughterhouse and I wanted to get an anthrax course, I could just go do that, right?
A: Uh huh.
Q: Just go to my doctor and for $20...
A: That's right. You can describe that procedure.
A: Because I currently own the production line and literally the vast majority of the anthrax vaccine in the U.S. Normally what occurs, veterinarians in some cases take the anthrax shot. Wool sorters take the shot. There are other specialized folks...
A: Wool sorters. You can pick it up cutaneously from sheep.
What they will do is they will come into Department of Defense; we will release doses of that particular vaccine. The actual requests are very low each year. Most people who are taking it are on their maintenance which means they're taking one shot a year. They've already had the initial six. It's not a big demand on the system, and that's how we currently handle it.
Colonel Bridges: If there are no further questions for the first two senior military officers, then I would like to have the third one come up and talk about the reserve integration.
Briefer: Good afternoon. I'll be briefing you this afternoon on the stationing for the rapid assessment elements and the training for reconnaissance and decontamination units as announced today by Secretary Cohen.
This program's intent is to provide local and state governments with increased capabilities to assess the nature of incidents, terrorists, other incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, and to provide them with some reconnaissance and decontamination capabilities.
The effort is part of Secretary Cohen's March 17th initiative to integrate the reserve components into DoD's plan for response to terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
You may recognize this particular chart. This is the Federal Emergency Management regional regions, and it is the basis for our assessment and our stationing program. It also shows the criteria that we initially used when we began the process for assessing where these teams might be stationed several weeks ago.
This is the final stationing proposal. There are several things that can be said about this particular chart. In the first instance the states highlighted in yellow are recipient states, however the positioning, the pinpoint positioning of these teams is not depicted by these circles. What you see there, representative coverage, if the team was placed in the largest metropolitan area in that state.
The final pinpoint positioning will be made in consultation with the governors and the respective adjutant generals for the states involved, and based upon criteria that is being developed here at DoD and elsewhere, and based upon input we receive from the local and state first responders.
The second thing we can talk about with respect to this proposal is that it integrates, as you can see, reserve components not only into state plans but also into the federal FEMA regions so that their response capabilities will become a part of regional, state, as well as local organizations.
Finally, as you can see, there are gaps in the coverage. We recognize this. It's important for us to understand that this is, in fact, a pilot program. We are going to get it right. The lessons that we learn from this stationing program we will use as we expand it in future years.
A: The circles that you see are representative areas of coverage if the ready team was placed at the very center. They're 150 miles radius, 300 miles in diameter, and they're predicated on the basis of a response time of four hours from notification until the ready team can assemble and deploy to a point at the outer edge of the radius.
Q: So, for example, on the circle there in Pennsylvania, it would appear that Philadelphia would be included, but if you're in Pittsburgh, you're probably not going to be able to get this coverage.
A: At this point in time the actual decision about where the team will be positioned has not been determined. So that based upon consultations with the governor and the TAG or the adjutant general of Pennsylvania, that circle could in fact move to the west and indeed, if you look at the state of New York, were that circle to be positioned where it is now, there would indeed be some coverage for Philadelphia and you could move that circle to the west and provide additional coverage.
These are the kinds of things that we are going to be talking to the governors and the state adjutant generals about, and that is exactly the kind of criteria that we are looking to implement when the actual pinpoint decisions are made.
Q: Did you have a lot of governors fight for these?
A: There was a considerable amount of interest. (Laughter)
Q: Will these teams not move out of these circles?
A: One of the criteria for positioning the teams, as we've said, is that they are in the regional FEMA, they're in the FEMA regions. They're intended to be a regional asset as well as a state asset. One of the criteria that we used, as you will see, is the existence of interstate, inter-region compacts which facilitate the movement of these teams from their actual stationing locations to other states and to other regions.
Q: These circles just tell you that they could... It would take them longer than four hours to get someplace.
A: If, for example, we used the city of Atlanta because we positioned the team in Atlanta for purposes of representation because Atlanta was the major metropolitan area in Georgia. All that this means is that if the team was to deploy... If it was positioned in Atlanta and if it was to deploy beyond the circle, it would take longer than four hours for them to get there, and that's the kind of coverage that we're seeking to represent.
Q: Do they go by helicopter or truck or what?
A: A combination. One of the factors that we used, that you will see, is the existence of National Guard airlift, helicopter primarily, but there also may be local consideration whereby, for example, they might be able to be deployed quicker, depending on the incident by wheeled vehicle transportation -- cars, state police, emergency responders of that sort.
Q: The four hour deployment time is made up of what? Two hours for them to get together and a two hour journey?
A: Approximate. Obviously the times will vary, but approximately an hour, hour and a half to assemble, two to two and a half hours to deploy.
Q: What's the dimensions of this circle area again?
A: The diameter is 300 miles. Radius is 150 miles.
Q: Why don't you have a team closer to Washington? (Laughter)
A: When we did the assessment, and I can show you when we get to the actual methodology that's used, two things emerged. Washington is a federal enclave. It is a very unique position in the federal response plan; a very unique position in terms of the National Guard which will be manning the rapid assessment element. Therefore, because of the regional demographics, the regional metropolitan areas, the existence of National Guard airlift, the existence of centers of excellence, or assets that might respond in the event of WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] issues, the clear winner was Pennsylvania. However, having said that there are other capabilities existing in the Washington area that we believe can provide adequate coverage. There's technical escort units, there's some medical metropolitan strike teams in this area. So we do believe that there's adequate coverage for the DC area.
I'd like to take must a minute to explain how we arrived at these decisions. It's very helpful for us to review at least briefly the existing architecture for providing federal assistance to localities and states.
Our present process calls for escalating levels of response. The local responders, usually fire and police officials are first on the scene. They'll make an initial assessment. If, in fact, what they face is beyond their capabilities, they will move to the state and request for assistance from state level authorities. That state response can include existing national guard elements that are assigned to that state.
If in fact those capabilities are insufficient to meet what they encounter, the local officials encounter, then they go to federal -- federal requests through the FEMA. If those requests are honored, support will be provided pursuant to existing statute or by presidential directive.
In the case of DoD, we are normally in a supporting role to other federal agencies that are providing assistance pursuant to the federal response plan. That, of course, is an interagency compact. It governs how we provide federal assistance to local and state organizations.
In the event of a requirement for the Department of Defense to become involved, the local incident commander would initiate the request through the state to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the regional level which would then come to the Department of Defense and would result in a response task force.
I have emphasized this architecture for three reasons. First of all is that our program will result in the Department of Defense continuing in its support role. The program is not designed to replace or to remove the local responders and their control of these incidents. We are strictly in a supporting role.
Secondly, the existing architecture is the basis for the plan. We are relying upon FEMA. FEMA is the lead agency for the management of these consequences involving weapons of mass destruction, and we are clearly in a supporting role.
Finally, we are not creating any new systems, any new programs. We are overlaying the program we have on an existing structure.
As part of the effort that began on this, as you know, a tiger team was assembled several weeks ago, began analyzing the functional capabilities that would be needed in the event of an incident involving an attack with a weapon of mass destruction. What you see depicted here are the functional capabilities that would be required.
Those that are depicted in blue are existing. You see some command and control elements. There are some existing laboratories, technical escort units, EOD units around the country, and of course the Marine CBIRF unit down at Norfolk.
Those depicted in white are capabilities that the program will develop as we move along in this effort. Many of these functional areas or functional capabilities already exist within the uniformed services. However, we will need additional training and some thought to focus those capabilities on the civilian assistance mission in addition to the warfight. That will be part of the process as we develop this program.
What you see in yellow is the three elements that we are initiating now. The rapid assessment element, decontamination, and reconnaissance units.
Reconnaissance and decontamination units will be trained from existing Army Reserve and Army National Guard chemical units from around the country. About 60 percent of these units presently reside in the Army Reserve and they will be fully integrated into the DoD response.
The reconnaissance units will focus on identifying hot spots within potentially contaminated areas, and also in attempting to locate the perimeters of the potentially contaminated area.
The decontamination units will focus on decontaminating individuals that may have been in those areas, either on-site or collection points, hospitals or other centers that have been established by emergency responders.
At the close of our first fiscal year we will have 28 recon units, 64 decon units. That number will approximately double by the end of the second year.
Q: Are there decon units in the Army Reserve also?
A: Yes, sir. About 60 percent. There are Army National Guard units, there are USAR units, and in certain specific cases we will use active component units. One case is Hawaii where we do not have a team stationed, but there is a chemical unit there, active component, which will be trained also to respond to the civilian assistance mission.
Q: Aren't you going to have a problem with wanting your Army chemical people to be in two places at once? If we have a Desert Storm contingency in the future, you're going to want them out with the troops because some Saddam Hussein in the future may want to use chemical weapons, but that's precisely the time when terrorists are likely to try to attack the home base.
A: That is correct, and that is the reason for expanding the program, and the reason why we are moving in this area to increase our capabilities to respond both to the civilian assistance sector and also to the warfight. At the present time, the warfight, as you know, is the focus of all our effort, and we're trying to expand that so that we can use some of those elements to affect both the civilian community and the warfight.
Q: How big an expansion in total? Do you think you need of the Army's chemical defense capability?
A: We are hoping to station these teams in all 54 states and territories. That's the hope.
A: This first element goes through the year 2000. After that, decisions will be made based upon our experience with these elements, the success...
Q: When you get these elements, how many states will you have covered, I guess is what I'm getting at.
A: We will have ten states covered.
Q: So these elements are still all in those ten states, the ones that we're seeing here.
A: Yes, sir. The product of the scarce resource means that we are trying to regionalize them so that we can provide coverage for additional states. The reality is that we don't make the four hour window except within those circles.
Q: What was the percentage breakdown again with the Army Reserve and the National Guard?
A: Sixty percent of the chemical units presently in the U.S. are Army Reserve.
Q: Are the Guard units coming from those infamous eight combat divisions?
A: No, sir. No. What we're doing with those, the Guard elements are coming from 220 AGR folks, Active Guard Reserve folks, who will be on active duty in a Title 32 status which means they're under control of the governor. But they will be full time soldiers.
Q: So just to clarify the assessment teams are in ten states, or ten regions now. These actually are in additional states?
A: That is correct. These reconnaissance and decontamination elements are in addition to the ten rapid assessment elements. As I said, by the end of the second year of the program we'll have 127 decontamination units trained throughout the country; we'll have approximately 55 reconnaissance elements trained throughout the country. They will not be concentrated in those ten states exclusively. Some of those elements do exist in the same states as the ten rapid assessment elements, but not exclusively. So there is wider coverage, although the capabilities will be different.
Q: So for example, if a civilian is in a community where there's a major Army base, he or she is going to be closer to this kind of coverage than otherwise. Is that a fair...
A: Not with respect to the rapid assessment elements.
Q: But to this recon and decontamination effort.
A: Well, not necessarily. Our USAR units are, like the National Guard, stationed in armories around the communities. There are some 3,000 Guard armories. USAR probably doesn't have that extensive a network, but its units are also disbursed. Some of them are in fact on active duty bases, but this is a reserve component integration piece as opposed to active component. We're focusing on integrating the reserve components into the plan.
Q: You said 220 guardsmen only?
A: 220 guardsmen will make up the first ten teams of the rapid assessment elements. Twenty-two personnel per team, ten teams, as indicated across the FEMA regions.
This is a chart depicting what the rapid assessment elements will do. I'd like to emphasize the assessment and assistance bullets here. They are clearly to assist the local incident commander, that fireman or police officer that will remain in control of the incident, and we are there to support and assist.
Talking a little bit about the methodology that we used to arrive at these decisions. The criteria that were initially developed, as you will see, became refined as we began to assess and apply analysis to the data that we collected. We did regionally align them as we indicated we would in March 17th. They have been state assigned that I've covered, although the actual pinpoint stationing will be made in consultation with the governors. The rest of it, pretty standard. We collected data, created a matrix. We'll show you the matrixes and how they came out good.
These are the actual standards that we finally decided would govern our stationing criteria.
Our demographics piece turned into population. We basically identified that state within each region that had the greatest number of people, took that into consideration as a standard.
The second standard that we developed was that we learned in consultation with the Concepts Analysis Agency that the high target, high value target threat really corresponded very closely to our metropolitan areas, so we used the standard metropolitan statistical area. We began to identify those states within each region that had the greatest number of SMSAs and that became another standard for us in the analysis.
Military airlift. These are going to be assets that are under the initial command of the respective adjutant generals of the states. It will be their responsibility probably to activate them initially and to deploy them, so we looked for National Guard lift capability -- helicopters, primarily. The intent was not only to have the capability but also to provide coverage throughout the region in which the team was assigned.
The fourth standard that we used was the presence of organizations that could provide assistance in the event of an attack or another incident involving weapons of mass destruction, or could help in the coordination of the response effort. In that light, the existence of FEMA regional centers played very large in our mind. Those states that had them were very carefully reviewed. We also looked at other key training sites -- USAMRIID, the existence of laboratories, places where these responders could get support in the event of an incident.
Finally, as I indicated, the question of interstate compacts and the ability to move these teams around the regions and between regions. These do not prohibit movement, but they certainly facilitate it, and that was a fact.
This sort of shows the regional analysis that we applied to each region. As you can see in the upper left hand corner here, what we did was created a decision matrix where we assess each of the five standards that I've enumerated, looked at each state and made a decision based upon how the standards apply to each of those states, and compared to other states within the region. We did not do an inter-regional analysis, that is we did not compare region to region. We compared states within the regions.
The representative diameter or coverage simply shows where we were going to -- what kind of coverage we would get assuming we had a four hour response time. You will see the rest of the legend I've covered. I've talked about the involvement of the governors and the TAGs.
Unless you have any questions, that concludes my briefing.
Q: You had a chart way back which showed boxes you've got filled with (inaudible) and boxes you haven't got filled yet. When you -- do you anticipate that each of the response circle of elements will have in the metropolitan areas where they're based, will each of them have capabilities corresponding to each of those boxes?
A: Let me respond this way. At the present time there are two response task headquarters in existence. One to respond east of the Mississippi, one to respond west of the Mississippi. The intent is that each of those response task force headquarters will have available to it this menu of capabilities which it will be able to task organize, dependent upon the particular incident involved and the need, the kinds of needs requested by the local incident commander and the state authorities.
So this is a menu, and the task organization will depend on the incident.
Q: So the idea would be that those two headquarters or however many would send out particular specialists in those areas to the particular response teams in the various cities that you have.
A: That's correct. That's exactly what we're developing.
Q: So how big... At the moment it's 22 per team. How big do you anticipate that those city teams will get?
A: We don't have a number on that yet. This is still being developed. A lot of the assessment is occurring. It's just how much do you need to make this robust enough to be effective, and I don't have those numbers at this point. That's still very much in the development stage.
Q: Talk about the special training these 22 will need. It's more than two weekends a year, isn't it?
A: The ten-man teams will be full time soldiers working in the Army National Guard. So they will be available for training at all times.
There's a number of levels that we are going to train them at. They will receive training initially in hazardous management; they will receive training in the local incident response system that the states and localities use to deal with these kinds of incidents. Then we will send them to specialized training, particularly in chemical and biological warfare.
Q: So though you call these National Guard, the core of them are in fact active Army, just (inaudible) with the National Guard.
A: They are part of a program whereby the National Guard has access or has full time soldiers who are equivalent to active component folks, you can't tell the difference. The only real difference is the legality that the National Guard folks are controlled by the states in which they are stationed. In other words, an AGR in the State of Kentucky could not be moved out of the State of Kentucky without the governor and the adjutant general's permission.
Press: Thank you.