Are U.S. Army Capabilities for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction at Risk?

September 1, 2015

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Among the many threats to the security of the United States and its allies, few loom larger than existing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) capabilities and the nation-states and non-state actors who covet or already possess them. Add to that U.S. adversaries’ active pursuit of genetically engineered pathogens and other nontraditional agents and this globalized and complex world appears to be fraught with danger.

Faced with that reality in this fiscally constrained environment, the Department of Defense (DoD) recently created a new strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction (CWMD). However, that strategy is not without risk for the Army as the provider of specialized CBRN units and general-purpose forces that must be able to conduct operations in a contaminated environment.

This Land Warfare Paper, derived from the author’s U.S. Army War College Program Research Project, provides a background for viewing the new DoD CWMD strategy. It describes the risks posed by current and future CBRN threats, identifies how the Army is institutionally meeting the DoD CWMD strategy and makes recommendations for the Army and DoD to mitigate the risks.