Maryland to get federal anti-terror support team

12 states to receive squads trained to handle attacks

March 10, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

As part of a federal initiative to help local authorities respond to acts of terrorism, Maryland is one of 12 states to receive a 22-member Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced yesterday.

The team will include full-time Army and Air National Guard members trained to respond to a nuclear, chemical or biological attack. The team will fall under command of the governor and will be equipped with protective and communications equipment and a mobile lab.

The unit will help police, fire, and medical personnel determine the nature of an attack and provide medical and technical advice. Maj. Charles Kohler, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard, said it could take up to a year for the team to be fully staffed.

"This is a tremendous victory in our efforts to keep Maryland secure in the post-September 11 world," Ehrlich said in a statement.

Maryland was selected in part based on population density, port and coastal security problems, location of Department of Defense facilities and sites of national significance. Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska and Rhode Island were the other states chosen.

The teams cost an estimated $193 million and are funded through the federal Defense Appropriations Act.

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