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Hamre: Ancient Tactics, Modern Strategy 
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
        BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The Defense Department is taking 
more steps to protect service members and folks at home from 
the growing threat of chemical, biological and nuclear 
weapons, according to John Hamre.
        These types of weapons are not new to the battlefield, 
the deputy defense secretary told about 200 allies and 
partners at the 15th NATO Workshop in Vienna in late June. 
Nerve agents and anthrax are the modern equivalents of the 
noxious fumes of pitch and sulfur the Spartans used in 
attacking ancient Athens.
        "During the Middle Ages, cadavers were catapulted over 
besieged city walls to spread death and disease," Hamre 
said. "In this century, the searing sting of mustard gas 
poisoned the battlefields of Europe, and nerve gas has 
claimed innocent civilians in Iraq."
        What's new about today's chemical and biological 
weapons, Hamre said, is that they now are being linked with 
strategic weapons. "Technology has made these weapons more 
powerful and much more widely available," he said. "Five 
pounds of anthrax, properly dispersed, would kill over 
200,000 [people] in Washington, D.C."
        Internet sites give instructions on how to make 
chemical bombs and biological agents. U.S. Army analysts at 
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., recently discovered traces of 
VX nerve agent on Iraqi missile fragments recovered by U.N. 
        U.S., allied and partner military forces must be 
prepared to counter the real and growing threat from 
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Hamre warned. At 
least two dozen nations already have such weapons, or are 
developing programs to build them, he said.
        "The Tokyo subway sarin gas attack broke the taboo of 
first use, sparking interest in dozens of other terrorist 
groups and fringe organizations," Hamre said. "And the shock 
of nuclear tests in the deserts of India and Pakistan ... 
set off fears others may match their terrible decisions."
        Stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and 
countering the threat they pose represent the security 
challenges of the next century, Hamre stressed. To meet 
them, DoD is devoting more than $5 billion to chemical and 
biological protection and counterproliferation over the next 
six years. Major emphasis is to develop remote detection 
systems and diagnostic techniques, he said.
        The department has expanded funding for the Cooperative 
Threat Reduction program aimed at eliminating nuclear 
weapons in Russia, and defense officials would like to 
extend the program to help eliminate chemical weapons. In a 
move to consolidate more than a dozen treaty and threat 
reduction efforts, the department created a single agency 
aimed at reducing chemical, biological and nuclear threats. 
        Pentagon leaders recently started a mandatory 
vaccination program to protect service members, and Hamre 
predicts voluntary vaccinations will eventually be offered 
for all Americans. Protecting private citizens is also the 
aim of a new homeland defense program.
        Under the program, specially trained National Guard 
teams are being placed at strategic locations around the 
United States to identify, diagnose and contain suspected 
chemical and biological terror attacks, Hamre said. Military 
officials are also creating a new generation of rapid 
diagnostic equipment that can identify chemical and 
biological agents within minutes, he added.
        By the end of the year, Hamre said, the Pentagon will 
assign responsibility for America's homeland defense to a 
designated commander in chief. Up until now, he explained, 
the United States assigned regional commanders in chief for 
the entire world, except the former Soviet Union and North 
America. The U.S. European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany, 
for example, is responsible for U.S. military operations in 
Europe and most of Africa.
        (Other regional commands are U.S. Pacific Command, 
Honolulu, Hawaii; U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Va.; U.S. 
Southern Command, Miami; and U.S. Central Command, MacDill 
Air Force Base, Fla. Unified commands assigned overall 
responsibility for certain functions are U.S. Space Command 
Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; U.S. Special Operations 
Command, MacDill Air Force Base; U.S. Transportation 
Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; and U.S. Strategic 
Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.)
        Continental U.S. air defense is assigned to U.S. Space 
Command, but ground defense was never assigned to a 
commander in chief, he said. Because civilian sites also may 
be targeted, homeland defense is now considered a military 
        "We don't believe we have primary responsibility, but 
within minutes of an event, people are going to turn to us," 
Hamre said. "If there is a bona fide chemical attack in the 
subway system in New York, it's going to quickly go beyond 
what local police can handle. If there is a biological 
attack, you can easily see regional governors calling out 
the National Guard to quarantine the highways. It could get 
crazy very fast."
        Therefore, Hamre said, an assigned commander is needed 
to do realistic contingency planning. "The chairman of the 
joint chiefs has launched this effort in his review of his 
unified command plan. He has chartered the joint staff to 
begin detailed assessment of alternatives for dealing with 
this problem."
        Hamre said he's confident the military will have 
formally assigned homeland defense to a commander in chief 
by the end of the year. "We may invent a new one -- that's 
an option that's on the table," he said. "I do believe we're 
going to see a very significant new change. Finally, 
defending the homeland is going to be one CinC's day-to-day 

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