Bill Gertz at the Washington Times has a story today that provides some of the first substantive details on the counter-WMD and homeland defense elements of the forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review:
A section of the report on combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) said future U.S. military forces will have the capability to interdict and “render safe” weapons of mass destruction before terrorists can use them.
To counter the threat, the Defense Department will “develop new defensive capabilities in anticipation of the continued evolution of WMD threats,” the report said.
Evolving WMD threats include electromagnetic pulse weapons, portable nuclear devices, genetically engineered pathogens and new chemical arms, the report said. The report states that the four-star general in charge of the Omaha, Neb.-based U.S. Strategic Command has the lead role in countering WMD threats.
“The United States will have increased efforts to locate, track and tag shipments of WMD,” the report said. One key recommendation of the report is that “there shall be a joint task force for the elimination of WMD,” the report said.
At first impression, this sounds like a very important and positive shift in the nation’s defense posture, one that puts the military’s WMD counterproliferation efforts on much more of a strategic footing.
And the report speaks to new DOD efforts to counter genetically engineered bioweapons threats:
For homeland security, the report calls for spending $1.5 billion over the next five years for medical countermeasures against genetically engineered biological warfare agents.
This seems appropriate, given the uncertain but potentially grave vulnerabilities that we face to genetically engineered biothreats. DOD needs to make sure that it works closely with civilian government agencies – NIH, CDC, and DHS – in the development of these new countermeasures.