Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Homeland Security Plan News Conference
January 9, 2004
Thank you all for coming this afternoon. I am pleased that Secretary Ridge announced this morning that the national threat level has been returned to “yellow,” or elevated.
Let me emphasize that, although we have returned to “yellow,” we have not let down our guard. “Yellow” still means that we're at an elevated level of risk, and we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect our state.
One way we are moving forward to further enhance our security is through the new Washington Statewide Homeland Security Strategic Plan. But before I introduce the plan, I want to thank the individuals who led the effort to prepare this important proposal. We are fortunate to have some of the top homeland security experts in the nation working in our state.
First, Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg, director of the Washington State Military Department.
The Washington Military Department has been a key contributor to our state’s security plan. Gen. Lowenberg is the chair of the Homeland Security Committee of the national Adjutant Generals Association. He is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Northern Command, which oversees North American defense. Gen. Lowenberg will speak to you later about some of the details of the plan. Thank you, General, for directing this critical effort.
I also want to recognize Glen Woodbury, head of the state’s Emergency Management Division. Glen is the immediate past president of the National Emergency Management Association. The Emergency Management Division has been integral in the developing of our plan. Thank you, Glen, for your leadership on emergency management.
Thanks to the leadership of individuals like Gen. Lowenberg and Glen, our state has been recognized for its preparedness.
· We hosted the TOPOFF 2 exercise to test vital homeland security systems;
· We are the national coordinator of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact;
· And the state Department of Health recently ranked among the top 10 states in public health emergency preparedness.
The new Washington Statewide Homeland Security Strategic Plan is a historic and unprecedented undertaking, and is not required by federal law. This plan is another major step in the state’s continuing effort to prevent, prepare, and respond to the threat of terrorism. It is a critical document because it determines the full spectrum of our state’s homeland security requirements. It will focus funding priorities to build statewide capability and capacity. It demonstrates that we must go beyond only equipping emergency responders but include other critical homeland security areas.
And this strategic plan, along with other state plans, illustrates the need to expand grant funding strategies for governments at all levels.
I want to emphasize: We Are Prepared. Our efforts began in late 1999, two years before 9/11, when I established the state’s Committee on Terrorism. That committee brought local, state and federal officials together to address the state’s vulnerabilities.
The committee has helped set the priorities for spending more than $135 million in federal anti-terrorism funds we’ve received during the past five years. This new strategy will ensure that we use future grants in the best way possible.
Looking Broadly at Homeland Security Needs
The new strategic plan will continue the strong efforts the state has made in the training and equipping first responders. At the same time, the plan takes a broad look at our state’s infrastructure and vulnerabilities. For example, the plan directs efforts to enhance healthcare and public health systems. It also directs the strengthening of our information technology to prevent cyber attacks. It looks at the ability for private businesses to continue operating in the event of a terrorist attack. And it prioritizes the assessment and protection of key state assets and critical infrastructure.
Homeland Security Must Involve Everyone
A consistent theme in our homeland security program has been that homeland security must involve every person and every organization in our state. This strategic planning process has taken more than six months and involved hundreds of private citizens, community and business leaders, tribal representatives, elected officials, and federal, state and local government partners. Through such coordinated action, we will reduce our vulnerabilities and protect against terrorist attacks. The resulting planning, training and exercises will enhance our collective preparedness against terrorism and other hazards.
By working together, we will ensure a safer and more secure Washington for the 21st century.
I am pleased to turn it over to Gen. Lowenberg to discuss details of the plan.