State, federal anti-terrorism efforts combine in Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Separate state and federal anti-terrorism task forces in Alaska have merged into a single new group. Officials say the merger should allow them to work more efficiently.

''I think it's probably a smarter use of our resources,'' said Alaska's U.S. Attorney Timothy Burgess.

Burgess said he believes Alaska is the first state to combine state and federal homeland security task forces. It makes sense here because of the limited resources available to cover a large geographical area, he said.

The new Anti-terrorism Task Force of Alaska replaces the Governor's Homeland Security Task Force and the federal Anti-terrorism Task Force for Alaska.

Some of the same people were on both groups, so joining forces will cut down on the number of meetings they have to attend, eliminate some duplication of effort and prevent tasks from being overlooked, Burgess said.

Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Craig Campbell is co-chairman of the new task force group along with Burgess.

About 60 agencies and offices are represented on the task force. They include federal and state law enforcement agencies, local governments and private businesses involved in fields such as transportation and communications. All branches of the military are also participating.

The task force will meet in general sessions monthly, while subcommittees will meet more frequently.

Campbell said the two organizations had worked well with each other.

''Now it is going to be one team for the benefit of all Alaskans,'' Campbell said. ''We can communicate directly across all federal, state and local government lines, ensuring quick response to potential security threats.''

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