July 21, 2004

DC, Maryland and Virginia Guard leaders sign mutual aid agreement

By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell
National Guard Bureau

 
Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, the adjutant general for Virginia, Maj. Gen. David Wherley Jr., commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, the adjutant general for Maryland, on July 15 signed a Memorandum of Understanding that enables those National Guard forces to serve together during a critical incident within the National Capital Region. (Photo by Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, National Guard Bureau)

WASHINGTON - Had terrorists crashed an airliner into a target, such as the U.S. Capitol or the White House, in the District of Columbia on Sept. 11, 2001, the D.C. National Guard could not have legally asked for National Guard reinforcements from another state to help civilian law enforcement agencies restore order from the inevitable chaos.

Likewise, there was no legal means for D.C. National Guard troops on Title 32, or state, duty status to roll out to support the Virginia National Guard after the Pentagon was attacked on northern Virginia soil.

That all changed on July 15 when leaders of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia National Guard forces signed an historic mutual aid agreement making it possible for their people to respond to a "critical incident" in the National Capital Region.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Maj. Gen. David Wherley Jr., commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, adjutant general for Maryland, and Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, adjutant general for Virginia, during a brief afternoon ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington.

The document immediately makes it possible for National Guard troops to serve together, without having to be mobilized for Title 10 federal duty, in the National Capital Region that encompasses the District of Columbia, the Maryland counties of Prince George's, Montgomery and Frederick, and, in Virginia, the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church and Manassas.

Wherley was credited with being the driving force behind the agreement that has the same legal standing as the Emergency Management Assistant Compact that every state except California and Hawaii have signed and that makes it possible for Guard forces from one state to serve in the others during an emergency or disaster declared by a governor.

Now, it was explained, D.C. Guard troops can serve in Maryland and Virginia and troops from those states can serve in the district during an emergency declared by one of the governors or by the mayor of Washington using an approval process established by the president.  

Such an emergency, or critical incident, would arise "from a natural disaster, technological hazard, manmade disaster, civil emergency aspects of resources shortages, community disorders, insurgency, or enemy attack," the memorandum states.

The agreement also states "that the National Guard must have a presence in the Military District of Washington Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region Operations Center."

"Before Sept. 11, 2001, the general consensus was that we had our territories. Maryland and Virginia didn't come into D.C., and we didn't go out to them. So we had to rethink some things," said Wherley who became the D.C. Guard's commanding general in July 2003.

"Now, if it's a military event we can go to work for General Jackman anytime," added Wherley, referring to Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman, commander of the Military District of Washington that is headquartered at Fort McNair. Jackman also commands the National Capital Region's joint forces headquarters that was formed to support the U.S. Northern Command and the homeland defense mission.

"It all seems to fit, so let's go ahead and do it. I really do appreciate your leadership on this. You've been the catalyst for it," Tuxill praised Wherley.           

"Certainly we're very much a part of what's going on here, and we've always been closely tied to this nation's capital, except for a brief period back in the 1800s," said Williams, generating a laugh. "But we remained just across the river even then.

"Clearly, anything that we can do to help and at the same time garner the resources of these other two entities to come to Virginia when something happens over on our side of the river is a win-win situation for all of us," Williams added.

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