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Washington National Guard to establish first Homeland Response Force

Washington State and Ohio will be the first two states to create Homeland Response Forces to deal with chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. -- The Washington National Guard today announced it is going to be the first of two states to create a Homeland Response Force that will be deployable nationwide.

The Guard says another unit will be set up in Ohio and eventually there will be 10units in 10 states that will operate on a regional basis.

The Guard saysthe 560 person force will consist of citizen-soldiers and airmen organized, trained and equipped to idenfy and respond to and mitigate the effects of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or high-yeield explosive events. The HFR will deploy to incidents within six to twelve hours of receiving an activitation order from the Governor and Adjutant General.

Capt. Keith Kosic, the Washington National Guard's public affairs officer says the HFR builds on a 170 unit force already established in the wake of 9-11 thatis also prepared to help in such incidents. But this would grow the size and capabilities of the unit by nearly trippling it.

He adds it can also be used in natural disasters such as dealing with ash plumes from volcanos.