Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weapon of Mass Destruction: ATF, ESF-13 and the really scary thing. Puppetmaster Rubenstein's epochal failure.

"Barney, Ah'm puttin' you in charge of WMD response for all of Mayberry. . . Now don't screw it up."

Friday, September 5, 2008

ATF Takes the ESF–13 Lead to Coordinate Federal Law Enforcement Assistance

ATF was designated by the Department of Justice to coordinate the ESF–13 function. ESF–13 is part of the National Response Plan and involves coordinating the federal law enforcement response for public safety and security. Now agencies under the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are all put on stand-by and readied for deployment when a storm could make a possible landfall in the United States. Federal Hurricane Newsroom.

Thunder over at early last month posted this ATF presser.

Emergency Support Function #13

ATF is also seeking additional resources to support our responsibilities under the National Response Framework (NRF), which is the Federal strategy for providing a unified national response to natural disasters and acts of terrorism. The NRF provides for 15 “emergency support functions” (ESFs), including ESF #13, which covers public safety and security. More specifically, the mission of ESF #13 is to assist Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement agencies when they are overwhelmed by a disaster or terrorist attack. The Department of Justice has appointed ATF as the lead coordinating agency for ESF #13.

As such, ATF has been tasked with managing day-to-day ESF #13 operations that involve planning and coordinating at the national, State and local level in preparation for emergencies. For example, on a daily basis ATF serves as liaison between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the governors’ offices, State public safety officials and all levels of law enforcement. We also participate in numerous planning sessions and exercises. In addition, we have developed and maintain a “concept of operations” plan and provide information to States on Federal law enforcement resources available during times of emergencies.

When a national emergency occurs, ESF #13 is activated and ATF deploys to the affected area within six hours of notification. On scene, ATF partners with State law enforcement to evaluate the situation in terms of public safety. We also act as a clearing house to match available Federal law enforcement resources with needs of the requesting jurisdictions and work to ensure that those resources are deployed as quickly as possible. While deployed, ESF #13 resources are typically under the administrative and operational control of the law enforcement agency that requested their assistance; however, at the request of the agency we will provide safety and security for responding ESF resources, as well as administrative support. ESF #13 activations have included the 2007 California wildfires, hurricanes Humberto, Dean and Flossie in 2007, hurricanes Bertha, Dolly, Ike and Gustav in 2008, the 2009 Presidential inauguration and the 2009 Red River Floods. ESF #13 personnel have also been involved with planning security for special events such as Super Bowls.

ATF has been responsible for the coordination of ESF #13 for approximately five years. During that time, ATF has funded these efforts from our base budget; we have received no dedicated funds. As ESF #13 has matured and the level of responsibility has increased, we have found that diverting money from our core budget has adversely affected ATF’s other programs. Moreover, the lack of resources, manpower, equipment and training dedicated to ESF #13 hinders our ability to properly develop a foundation for the program. Additional resources would ensure ATF’s ability to immediately provide the American public with the caliber of law enforcement preparation and response expected from the Department of Justice and the Federal government in a time of crisis.

Our FY 2011 request for ESF #13 is $1,228,000, seven positions and three FTE. That includes $1,078,000 for personnel, $34,000 to fund two national training sessions per year, and $116,000 for travel expenses. The personnel are responsible for developing a national logistics program, coordinating logistics during emergencies, coordinating training at the national and field levels, and maintaining computers in the ESF #13 National Coordination Center.


Now this is scary-funny because the Justice Department has just come out with a report entitled Review of the Department’s Preparation to Respond to a WMD Incident, May 2010. In it, the DOJ reviewer rips the ATF a new asshole about their failure to actually DO anything that they were tasked with doing two years ago.

Relevant snippets:

We also determined that the Department is not prepared to fulfill its role, assigned to it under the National Response Framework’s ESF-13, to ensure public safety and security in the event a WMD incident overwhelms state and local law enforcement. The Department designated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as the lead agency to implement this requirement, but we found that the Department and ATF have not fulfilled the Department’s role for coordinating the federal law enforcement response activities to an ESF-13 activation.3 For example, the Department and ATF have not made personnel assignments to manage these activities, and ATF has not developed a catalog of law enforcement resources – people and equipment – available to be deployed in the event of a WMD incident. -- Page ii.

Note 3 says: "For example, the Department and ATF have not made personnel assignments to manage these activities, and ATF has not developed a catalog of law enforcement resources – people and equipment – available to be deployed in the event of a WMD incident."

In January 2008, the Department’s lead component for ESF-13, ATF, proposed a Concept of Operations Plan to provide a structure for the Department to implement its ESF-13 responsibilities. As of March 2010, that Concept of Operations Plan was still in draft, and several actions essential to the Department’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities for coordinating the federal law enforcement activities in an ESF-13 activation remained incomplete. The incomplete elements include staffing national and regional coordinator positions; training staff in ESF-13 operations; cataloging law enforcement resources available in the event of an ESF-13 activation; participating in National Level Exercises to test preparedness; and deputation of law enforcement personnel.

We found the Department and ATF have not made all the necessary personnel assignments to manage ESF-13 activities. At ATF headquarters, the ESF-13 National Coordinator has been assigned, but a Deputy National ESF-13 Coordinator has not been designated, and as of April 2010, ATF has not filled 6 of the 13 other positions it has dedicated to ESF-13.

In addition, ATF has provided minimal training in implementation of ESF-13 responsibilities to ATF field office personnel, support agency personnel, and state and local emergency operations officials. According to ESF-13 staff, ATF has trained only its personnel in field offices that are in states prone to hurricane activity for an ESF-13 activation resulting from a hurricane.

ATF has also not developed a catalog of law enforcement resources available to be deployed from all ESF-13 agencies or Department components in an ESF-13 activation because other agencies have not responded fully to ATF’s requests for information.

Further, ATF has not tested its preparedness to carry out its ESF-13 responsibilities in National Level Exercises or any other functional exercise involving a WMD incident. Finally, ATF is still in the process of determining how ESF-13 law enforcement personnel will be deputized as Deputy U.S. Marshals if ESF-13 is activated. -- Page vi.

So what is the real scary thing? That ATF has been put in charge of "Emergency Support Function 13" to "ensure public safety and security in the event a WMD incident overwhelms state and local law enforcement"? Or that two years later, they still haven't done jack shit about it? Both?

This is really the poisonous fruit of the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the ATF by the anti-firearms agenda driven Office of Chief Counsel. To please Chucky Schumer and their other budgetary benefactors in the Congress and Senate the CCO would rather be railroading poor guys with malfunctioning semi-auto rifles like David Olofson or, better yet, executing "economic Wacos" on honest firearm designer-manufacturers like Len Savage for having the temerity to testify as an expert witness against the agency in court. Those sorts of petty tyrannies are what really sexually excites them.

The Chief Counsel's Office runs the ATF with unseen hands and marionette strings. The failure of the ATF to execute a major policy component like this must therefore be laid at the door of Chief Counsel Stephen Rubenstein.



Anonymous said...

So what is the real scary thing? That ATF has been put in charge of "Emergency Support Function 13" to "ensure public safety and security in the event a WMD incident overwhelms state and local law enforcement"? Or that two years later, they still haven't done jack shit about it? Both?--MVB

This is the "Peter principle" with a vengeance. The BATmen have demonstrated their ineptitude on many occasions. Why then are they being given additional authority? Answer: because under socialism, nothing succeeds like failure.


Taylor Harbin said...

Just great

rexxhead said...

"Or that two years later, they still haven't done jack shit about it? Both?"

I'm trying hard to see the 'down-side' to all of this. Somebody help me out here, huh?

Unknown said...

This is good news for we IIIpers. The federal government is in such disarray that the pieces cannot work as a whole. Now, all we have to do is convince the military not to support the civilian side when the SHTF.

Jimmy2Times said...

Yet even more oplans for herding the serfs.

Ja volt, mien fuhrer!

CLW said...

That makes about as much sense as sending a SWAT team to fix a toilet. In fact, I'd say that's pretty much what they intend to do...

Anonymous said...

Mike: While I am loathe to disagree with you, Occam’s Razor suggests that a simpler explanation may be found in the ATF’s own bureaucratic inertia and incompetence in the face of a non-standard, operational mission tasking. It is likely that the ATF hierarchy is temperamentally and experientially unsuited for such a mission. Couple this with a level of bureaucratic in-fighting not seen since the “fiefdoms” of the Nazi Reich – and one can appreciate the ATF’s inability to get past a draft concept plan.

And speaking of Concept Plans, the Department of the Army just released new guidance on preparing Concept Plans for new or re-structured organizations. Base document is 40-odd pages; supplemental guidance is over 110 pages… all involving detailed requirements and background studies that must accompany the Organizational Concept Plan before it can be approved and the new TDA implemented. (Table of Distribution and Allowances – think ‘MTOE’ - the organizational document that authorizes equipment and personnel for the new or re-structured organization, and specifies personnel grades and structure).

Included in the process are “Cost-Benefits Analysis” requirements and “Manpower Study” validations – detailed requirements used to justify the changes or additional personnel authorizations …

So my provisional unit, which is in the process of re-organizing itself, back to what it was, from the disparate elements into which our personnel were scattered five years ago, must go through this onerous, cumbersome and time-consuming process, just to resurrect the exact same original organization.

It is no wonder Government is not efficient.

So I am not surprised that the ATF, given the lack of a Director (to prioritize effort, if nothing else), bureaucratic in-fighting, and a culture decidedly not friendly to this sort of mission, could not produce the required action…

The Wretched Dog

hazmat said...

Mike, I'm familiar with the NRF in my daily job. At my level, we have REAL cops to staff our ESF 13 function, not a bunch of, well, you know what I mean.

Funny thing is, the lead federal organization for response to WMD incidents is the Fibbies, not ATF. Meaning that that call is made it goes to the FBI field office, not ATF. Sounds to me like this was something that was thrown on their plate to justify their continued sucking up of funding and their own existence. And, it seems they're doing a bang-up job of it.

W W Woodward said...

“ESF #13 activations have included … the 2009 Presidential inauguration …” Now, By Gawd, That was a national emergency!!


Anonymous said...

You forgot the "The Schlepper" and "Cheese" parts.

Anonymous said...

>>> and one can appreciate the ATF’s inability to get past a draft concept plan.<<<

They didn't seem to have much trouble executing at Waco and neither did their friends. At least when you add up the bodies or ashes and compare them to the lack of consequences.

If you think about it for any length of time at all, you immediately go and buy more items of social engagement. And uh, no, your gut feelings aren't wrong or malfunctioning, they're right on the money.

Anonymous said...

If you love Obama's response to the oil spill, you will love his response to a WMD attack.
I spent over 30-years in fire fourteen different DoD departments in the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps, along with serving as the HAZMAT Training Coordinator with a state fire marshals’ office and as a fire chief in
Indiana and California. I can tell you it is impossible for any federal agency to
respond effectively in a WMD incident, especially the ATF. Why you might ask? It is the quality of personnel managers/supervisors are forced to hire.
As a fire chief, I was given two stacks of applications to review for an entry-level firefighter. The largest stack contained descriptions of the typical
applicant’s qualifications such has “I keen flors, I kook pasta.” The second stack, a much smaller stack had one individual who had just graduated from Oklahoma State University with a four-year fire science degree and had been
a volunteer firefighter since he was 16-years old, he had already received his EMT rating and was almost finished his paramedic training. While in college,
he stayed in a fire station on campus to help pay for his expenses.
The personnel officer stated that I could not hire this individual until the smaller stack of highly told me qualified applicants until everyone in the largest stack had been hired. The ATF is no different in the quality of applicants.