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Gregoire signs agreement to improve emergency response

For Immediate Release: August 25, 2011

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that will expedite the appointment of a dual status commander for the state’s National Guard and federal military forces during complex emergencies within Washington state. A special 10-member Council of Governors – which Gregoire has co-chaired from its inception in January 2010 – played the lead role in negotiation of the MOA.

The MOA creates a standing agreement between the state and the federal government on how to appoint the commander and how they would ensure unity of effort between state and federal military forces as both respond to an emergency.

Gregoire believes a single commander of both state and federal forces – either a National Guard Officer or commissioned federal military officer – would lead a more effective, efficient and integrated response. “We cannot wait for disaster to strike to plan our response,” she said. “With this agreement in place, one person would be in command of state and federal responses to an emergency within our state’s borders. This will help both forces coordinate and integrate, which will save lives during an emergency.”

The MOA does not obligate Gregoire or any future governor to consent to appointment of a dual status commander and merely establishes the process to appoint the commander and how they would function. The appointment requires presidential authorization and consent of the governor.

The nation’s governors worked closely through the Council of Governors to broker and reach this agreement. President Obama created the council to strengthen the partnership between federal and state governments to protect the nation against all types of hazards. The council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard. In addition to Gregoire, the council’s governors include: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon; North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

The National Governors Association hopes to codify this agreement legislatively in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

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