The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which outlines future threats to the United States, recommends cutting the number of military forces prepared to respond to a weapons-of-mass-destruction attack against America. The recommendation to downsize U.S. Northern Command personnel will expand one of three Consequence Management Response Forces (CCMRFs) while moving personnel in the other two brigade-sized forces to Homeland Response Forces in each of the 10 Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) districts.
In this past Monday’s Washington Examiner, Dr. James Carafano writes, “The Pentagon argues that less is actually more, because it has split the troops into smaller force packages that can get to a disaster area faster. But while smaller may be OK for small disasters, it won’t work for big ones.”
Current Pentagon officials argue that the new set-up will improve the response time of the first CCMRF to a potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack on U.S. soil. But critics argue that the three full-size CCMRFs are necessary in the event of a WMD event.
The Defense Department’s former homeland defense chief, Paul McHale, told Inside Defense, “If implemented as written, the QDR decision will place our country at great risk.” Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also worries about losing two brigade-sized forces to 10 smaller Homeland Response Forces, which would be less effective during catastrophic attack. The QDR recommendations don’t appear to match the demands placed on these response forces to protect American citizens.
“These troops need strong working relationships with emergency responders across the nation and the ability to deploy on short notice,” argues Carafano. “Yet, the Pentagon is pitching for less, not more — and the reason why is pretty simple. The entire review process was a rubber-stamp exercise forced to conform to budget decisions already made by — or foisted on — Gates.”
Jeffrey Chatterton currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/About/Internships-Young-Leaders/The-Heritage-Foundation-Internship-Program