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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

American Forces Press Service

Report Provides Strategic Vision for Countering WMD

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2006 A document released today outlines the Defense Department's strategy for combating weapons of mass destruction and will serve as the foundation for assigning specific responsibilities throughout DoD toward that goal, a senior military official said.

The "National Military Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction" deals with "the greatest risk" confronting the United States and other free societies, Army Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., the Joint Staff's deputy director for the war on terror, said. "And that's weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists," he said.

Caslen said there's no doubt that al Qaeda would have used weapons of mass destruction, not airplanes, to launch its attacks against the United States if it had possessed them. "They would have used them against (us) and killed not just 3,000 people but 3 million people, felt it was a duty to do so, and would have gloated in doing it," he said.

He quoted al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's stated belief that it's the religious duty of Muslins to acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them against "infidels."

DoD's new national strategy confronts this threat. "This strategy addresses the question: How do you keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people?" Caslen said.

The document outlines DoD's role in the U.S. government effort to counter the WMD threat and the role the department would play in fulfilling the president's National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, released in 2002.

DoD's strategy supports three basic pillars of the national strategy as it addresses the desired outcome -- basically, a world where the United States, its military, allies, partners and interests aren't threatened by such weapons. It focuses on how to keep these weapons out of enemy hands, prevent their proliferation, deter their use and, if they are used, reduce their impact and respond.

"The whole spectrum of weapons of mass destruction is diverse, so we looked at the strategic objectives, the ends that we wanted for the entire spectrum," Caslen said.

To achieve those objectives, DoD calls on the U.S. military to be prepared to:

  • Defeat and deter use of WMD and, if used by an enemy, deter the next use;
  • Protect from, respond to, and recover from WMD use;
  • Defend, dissuade or deny WMD possession or proliferation; and
  • Reduce, destroy or reverse WMD possession.

The DoD strategy builds on efforts already under way throughout the department to combat WMD and ensures military members operate as one team with one unified plan. "This integrates the department's efforts and enables us to collectively deal with WMD with this strategic guidance," Caslen said.

The report also recognizes the role other elements of the U.S. government, as well as U.S. allies and partners, will play in combating WMD.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave U.S. Strategic Command the DoD lead on WMD issues in January 2005, so STRATCOM will now "operationalize" this strategic guidance, Caslen said. The command will develop specific tasks and responsibilities required to carry out the defense strategy and assign them to the services, combatant commands and DoD agencies. Officials expect that report to be completed by late summer.

The results of these efforts and ultimately their success will have a major, long-term impact on the United States, Caslen said.

He described the conditions that would demonstrate the policy had proven successful. "Fifty years from now, life as you and I know it as a freedom-loving society is the same, (and) we have not been attacked by terrorists who have weapons of mass destruction, in spite of their greatest efforts to obtain them and do that," he said. "And your kids and your grandkids have not experienced the fear of trying to live in a world like that.

"If this is going to happen 50 years from now, this strategy and what STRATCOM is doing will play a significant role in making that happen."


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