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In March 2005, three potential anthrax-related incidents occurred at Department of Defense (DoD) mail facilities in and around Washington, D.C. Were DoD’s responses in line with the National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the nation’s instruments for reducing the risk associated with such incidents? DoD asked the RAND Corporation to examine the department’s response to and management of the three incidents and analyze how well DoD’s actions conformed with existing plans and guidelines. Although the three incidents and the responses were different, the authors found overarching issues to be considered and lessons to be learned from all three. They saw a need for continued planning, training, and exercising, with an eye toward flexibility and verification. They further saw a need for DoD managers and senior leaders to move away from ad hoc decisions and actions and hew more closely to the specified roles and responsibilities outlined in the NRP and NIMS.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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