In January 1996 I was reassigned to U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington. A captain surrounded by colonels and generals, I was made the desk officer for chemical-biological matters. I was presently given a concept paper for a force that could operate in the contaminated aftermath of a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Although initially perceived as inconsistent with the Marine warrior ethos, the Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) soon became reality. Within four months I was requested by the State Department to participate in an overseas exercise testing the U.S. Foreign Emergency Support Team and counterterrorism forces with a WMD terrorism scenario, and in July I was deployed to Atlanta in support of the 1996 Summer Olympics. I served there as CBIRF’s liaison to a number of response agencies that had gathered to conduct the first-ever domestic “consequence management” operation in the United States. Put in place to manage the consequences of a potential WMD terrorism event, this loose federation of local, state, federal, and military agencies was unprecedented.