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Hagel: Pentagon ready to assist civil authorities in Boston

Soldiers and airmen of the Massachusetts National Guard muster on the Boston Common to receive orders for a coordinated response in support of civilian authorities in the wake of the marathon bombings on April 15 2013. Some of the more than 400 Guardsmen on hand to keep portions of the route clear for runners were among the first to respond to the explosions in Boston.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is ready to assist after what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called a “cruel act of terror” in Boston.

Testifying on Capitol Hill, Hagel said Tuesday that the attack on the Boston Marathon was terrorism, and that the Pentagon is prepared to respond quickly to any request from domestic law enforcement.

“(The attack) is clearly an act of terror and will be approached as an act of terror,” Hagel said.

The bombs, said by authorities to have been made of 6-liter pressure cookers filled with nails and ball bearings and placed in black duffel bags, killed at least three and wounded more than 170.

Hagel noted in the hearing that a decision last month to disestablish two National Guard civil support teams, including the one that responded to the bombing in Boston, has been reversed.

The U.S. Northern Command, which coordinates the military response to any attacks on the homeland, decided Monday night not to change security levels at military installations in the U.S., a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

More than 400 Massachusetts National Guardsmen remain on duty to continue to assist local authorities, according to a news release from the Guard.

The 211th Military Police Battalion has been called upon to provide security. The Guard is also staging transportation assets such as buses and helicopters, according to the release.

Additionally, the Massachusetts National Guard’s 387th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) has been activated; and the 267th Combat Communications Squadron is headed to Boston to assist with interagency communication.

Additionally, the Navy sent one of its bomb-disposal units to Boston to assist local authorities as needed in the aftermath of the explosions.

The three-member explosive ordnance disposal team based at Naval Station Newport, R.I., was sent to Massachusetts after state officials asked for help.

Hagel, whose statement had been the strongest yet by any Cabinet-level official until President Obama spoke late Tuesday morning, told members of the House that the Pentagon was ready to respond to any request.

“I will continue to consult closely with DOD senior leaders and my counterparts in other agencies,” Hagel said, “on how we can best support the government’s response and investigations.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Chris Carroll contributed to this report.

dickson.patrick@stripes.com

 

 

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