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Coordination of State and Local Agencies, Coursework Example

Pages: 2

Words: 572

Coursework

Command and Control Structure and the Coordination of State and Local Agencies and Officials in the Event of a Terrorist Attack

In the event of a prospective terrorist attack carried out on American soil, a clearly delineated command and control structure is necessary to effectively manage the crisis and coordinate state and local agencies and officials. For example, considering the emergency scenario of a terrorist action performed during a high profile event, such as the American Super Bowl, wherein those in the stadium are endangered by an aerial attack on the stadium facilities with weapons of mass destruction, the coordination of response resources must be highly intertwined and efficiently managed, so as to minimize the corollaries of the tragedy.

In such a scenario, the command and control structure for the incident would ideally be clearly delineated beforehand, as would the coordination of state and local levels. In the case of the former, The Advisory Panel to Access Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (2001) stressed the importance of a singular decision maker in such an incident. Namely, the panel advises that “to ensure that the full capability of the Department of Defense can be mobilized to act within a clear chain of command in the event of a terrorist attack, we recommend that the National Command Authority establish a single, unified command and control structure to execute all functions of providing military support or assistance to civil authorities.” (p. 50) Hence, the recommendation of the Panel stresses the importance of what may be termed a macro-level view of the situation, in which clear decisions can be made by a distinct voice from the National Command Authority, thus providing efficient mobilization of capabilities. Such a singular command is necessary to maintain order within the cacophony of voices that is the chaos of a terrorist attack. Furthermore, such a singular command would ideally be equipped with pre-planned strategies concerning how to deal with the incident, such that the singular command would identify which strategy is to be executed. This would be a necessary pre-condition to providing a coordinated and cooperative operation between the multiple resources that will be used to address the crisis.

Such a clear command structure would have to be supplemented by a strategy that details how state and local agencies and officials need to work together in order to treat the crisis itself. Because of the high threat the prospective incident entails, “mounting an effective response to the threat of terrorism…requires coordination between state and local officials” (Stern, 1999, p. 156) so as to define who is to serve what function in the situation. This is a question of capabilities and preparedness. For example, local agencies needed for medical assistance could be designated to treat possible victims, since their prior experience regarding such cases is valuable regardless of the extent of the catastrophe. In symmetry, following the unusualness of the terrorist attack, state agencies would be employed for the investigation of the incident itself, to the extent that this may entail a non-local and even international investigation in order to bring the offenders to justice.

Works Cited

Stern, J. (1999). The Ultimate Terrorists. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

The Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. (2001). Third Annual Report to the President and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. Darby, PA: DIANE Publishing.

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