Toward a National Biodefense Strategy: Challenges and Opportunities: A Report of the Center for Counterproliferation Research   [open pdf - 409KB]

The National Defense University's Center for Counterproliferation Research convened a multi-day conference in May 2002 to assess the status of and prospects for a national biodefense strategy. The conferences was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the joint Staff and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and drew widespread participation from each of these and other DoD offices and other Federal agencies and from nongovernmental and industry specialists. This monograph is grounded in, but further elaborates on, the presentations and discussion conducted in that forum. The United States requires a national biodefense strategy designed to shape effective policies, guide and maximize investment, and balance competing objectives. Developing such a strategy is a major challenge since the biological threat is complex and highly dynamic. Traditional policy tools for preventing the proliferation of these weapons are lacking. There are significant scientific and technological hurdles to overcome in order to provide effective means of detecting, identifying, treating, and defeating biological agents used as either a weapon of terror or organized warfare. Any national strategy must take explicit account of the biological threat faced by the United States and its allies. Included among the many important issues addressed are: the role of treaties and threat reduction activities; the prospects for deterrence and interdiction; the role of industry in biodefense; preparedness and medical infrastructure; military force protection and installation preparedness; technical and scientific challenges of detection; treatment and forensics; and military operations in a BW environment. The threat posed by biological weapons, while not new, is evolving and does present a series of political, military, technological and psychological national security challenges. While some military and civilian organizations have substantial capabilities in place to help counter the BW threat, others are relative newcomers and have only recently begun to consider their roles in the national biodefense effort. Certainly, the fall 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States triggered an outpouring of resources and captured the attention of the Bush administration as well as the nongovernmental policy community, the media, and the public on BW threats. This monograph assesses the nature of the biological weapons threat and analyzes its broader implications for national security. It articulates the imperative for developing a cogent, robust, and integrated national biodefense strategy and highlights an important set of issues facing the policy, operational, intelligence, and public health communities. Finally, it offers a series of recommendations to understand the changing BW threat and for further developing appropriate responses.

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