News | Dec. 1, 1999

DOD and Consequence Management: Mitigating the Effects of Chemical and Biological Attack

By Rebecca Hersman and W. Seth Carus Strategic Forum 169

Planning for the Unthinkable

Many analysts believe that the use of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by terrorists or rogue states against the United States is probable. Underlying this concern is the growing realization that traditional deterrence—and especially fear of massive retaliation—is less reliable against such threats. Nonstate actors may feel immune from a retaliatory response, while rogue states may believe that the benefits of using CBW outweigh the potential risks—especially if they can avoid attribution. U.S. policymakers must plan for and prepare to deal with the consequences of such an attack.

Domestically, primary responsibility for consequence management lies with local and state authorities. Yet, federal support, from medical care to remediation, will also be critical. For this reason, the government is devoting substantial attention and resources to developing an efficient federal response that draws on the capabilities of all relevant departments and agencies, including: DOD, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Heath and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. READ MORE >>