"The failure to find substantial evidence of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in Iraq has exposed serious weaknesses in the U.S. understanding of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat posed by its adversaries and in its ability to deal with these threats. A rancorous and highly politicized debate, primarily about the intelligence assessments of Iraqi WMD capabilities before Operation Iraqi Freedom, has dominated the national discussion of WMD in Iraq for months. Although Iraqi WMD capabilities remain elusive and, indeed, weapons may never be found, elimination operations conducted there provide important lessons. The United States must begin to develop a permanent capability to plan for and conduct WMD elimination operations. The Department of Defense (DOD) in particular must begin to build such a capability as part of its overall approach to combating WMD proliferation. To be effective, however, DOD must work in concert with interagency partners and avoid a go-it-alone approach to this national priority. Preserving the knowledge and experience gained in Iraq and Afghanistan and translating them into effective structures and doctrine will be key challenges for military and civilian planners. Incorporating WMD elimination into early planning, ensuring access to key enabling capabilities, providing sufficient time to train units and exercise concepts, and, perhaps most importantly, following a program-centric approach to address the totality of adversary programs and stockpiles are all critical to future success."
Strategic Forum (October 2004), no.211
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/