Cohen Vows to Combat Terrorism


 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON -- Fight or fold -- that is America's choice when it 

 comes to terrorism. Defense Secretary William Cohen vows America 

 will never fold.


 "America cannot retreat behind concrete bunkers and barriers and 

 expect to be a force for good in the world -- or even to remain 

 secure in our own homes," Cohen said recently to New York's 

 Council on Foreign Relations. "No government can permit others to 

 attack its citizens with impunity if it hopes to retain the 

 loyalty and confidence of those it is charged to protect."


 The defense secretary pledged America will remain strong and 

 brave in the face of terrorist threats. "Those who sponsor or 

 support acts of terrorism are not beyond the reach of America's 

 military might," he said. "We demonstrated this after the attacks 

 against our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Those who 

 attack American citizens will find no safe harbor, no haven in 

 which to hide."


 The United States is also preparing for possible terrorist 

 attacks at home. "We can no longer think of terrorists as 

 malefactors who [only] attack American interests abroad," he 

 said. "The World Trade Center bombing and Oklahoma City have 

 destroyed that myth. The challenge of terrorism demands that we 

 think the unthinkable -- attacks with weapons of mass destruction 

 on American soil."


 The United States has had several false alarms, such as anthrax 

 hoaxes in Washington, Las Vegas and Wichita, Kan., and one close 

 call in New York when the World Trade Center bombers failed to 

 develop a chemical weapons capability to supplement their truck 

 bomb. U.S. authorities say renegade multimillionaire Osama bin 

 Laden is known to be working to acquire chemical weapons.


 "These facts, combined with the multiple chemical weapons attacks 

 in Japan by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, should make clear that the 

 threat is real," Cohen stressed. "We must be prepared." 


 Terrorism requires a coordinated, resolute response, he said. "We 

 must never allow messengers of hate to alter the course of 

 America's role in the world."


 At present, the Defense Department works with and trains other 

 federal, state and local authorities to prepare for such attacks, 

 Cohen said. Nearly 10,000 leaders, "first responders" and other 

 emergency officials in 30 cities have trained to date and those 

 in another 25 cities are slated for training in the coming year. 


 DoD also is creating 10 Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection 

 teams starting in fiscal 1999 that would deploy within four hours 

 to help communities respond in case of nuclear, biological and 

 chemical attacks. Each team of 22 full-time National Guard 

 members would be supported by other specialists drawn from 

 existing reserve component forces.


 "Our program is designed so the people we train will become 

 trainers themselves," the secretary said. "This approach will 

 greatly magnify our efforts to produce a core of qualified first 

 responders across the nation."


 DoD is also setting up 10 Rapid Assessment, Identification and 

 Detection teams in the National Guard. "These new RAID teams will 

 quickly reach the scene of an incident to help local first 

 responders figure out what kind of attack occurred, its extent 

 and the steps needed to minimize and manage the consequences," 

 Cohen said.


 Combating terrorism will require discipline, patience and 

 strength, the secretary concluded. "There is no doubt that 

 terrorists will test our resolve. There is no doubt that we will 

 meet the test."