By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2013 – The thoughts and prayers of all members of the Defense Department are with the people of Boston and the victims of the marathon bombing yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appearing before the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee for a budget hearing, also spoke about the situation in Boston.
The defense secretary pledged to provide any support from DOD that law enforcement agencies deem necessary as they investigate “this cruel act of terror.” Dempsey told representatives that DOD officials have been in constant contact with state and federal agencies.
Three are dead from the attack, and more than 170 were wounded. Many service members had traveled to Boston to run in the iconic marathon, and Hagel said his thoughts are with them as well.
“As the president said yesterday, we still do not know who did this or why,” he said. “A thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”
The secretary asked Americans not to jump to conclusions, but “any event with multiple explosive devices -- as this appears to be -- is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror.”
Hagel commended local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for their quick response to the explosions that detonated near the Boston Marathon finish line. He also expressed gratitude to the 460 members of the Massachusetts National Guard who were called up to help with the marathon and ended up providing life-saving aid to those affected.
Dempsey said Massachusetts Guardsmen continue to flow into the scene, and that more than 1,000 Guardsmen have been called up for this crucial state mission.
“The Department of Defense is prepared to respond quickly to any request for additional support from domestic law enforcement agencies,” Hagel said. “I will continue to consult closely with DOD’s senior leaders and my counterparts in other agencies on how we can best support the government’s response and investigation.”
Massachusetts officials asked for and received the services of a Navy explosive ordnance disposal team yesterday. Guardsmen also remain on duty helping to secure the crime scene.