Chemical and Biological Warfare Threat: USAF Water Systems at Risk   [open pdf - 251KB]

Water and the systems that supply it are national critical infrastructures. Attack to deny or disrupt these systems could have catastrophic effects on the U.S. economy and military power. Water is particularly vulnerable to chemical or biological attack. Not limited to the "traditional" chemical weapons, an adversary has a plethora of cheap, ubiquitous and deadly chemicals on the worldwide market. Using an Internet search and $10,000, the adversary could build a biological fermentation capability, producing trillions of deadly bacteria that don't require missiles or bombs for delivery. The U.S. Air Force water supplies are particularly assailable by asymmetric attack. Institutional myopia renders water system vulnerability assessments disjointed and ineffective. Understanding this vulnerability requires systemic analysis. Probing notional water systems, this study identifies critical points, which if vulnerable could be targeted with chemical or biological weapons to functionally kill or neutralize USAF operations. Though water attacks are historically common, USAF conventional wisdom and official policy center on aerial chemical or biological attack. This study conclusively demonstrates the efficacy of chemical and biological weapons in drinking water. The author proposes four thrusts to improve force protection: comprehensive threat and risk assessment, focused water system vulnerability assessments, re-evaluation of the CW/BW conventional wisdom, and a review of Civil Engineering water system outsourcing and management practices.

Report Number:
Counterproliferation Papers, Future Warfare Series No. 3
Public Domain
Media Type:
Counterproliferation Papers, Future Warfare Series No. 3
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