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Chemical and Biological Defense: Management Actions Are Needed to Close the Gap between Army Chemical Unit Preparedness and Stated National Priorities

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Most Army units tasked with providing chemical and biological defense support are not adequately staffed, equipped, or trained to perform their missions. Although the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and current operational plans highlight the need to mitigate WMD attacks at home and abroad and DOD has doubled its investment in chemical and biological defenses since 2001, there is a misalignment between the high priority DOD places on chemical and biological defense and the current low level of preparedness characterizing Army chemical companies, particularly in the National Guard and Reserve. Problems occurring primarily as the result of personnel shortages related to current operations are now causing most of the Army chemical units expected to perform these missions to report low readiness ratings in other words, they are not considered sufficiently qualified for deployment. The low readiness ratings reflect critical personnel shortages, particularly in the key occupational specialty chemical operations. Army chemical unit readiness is also being compromised by shortages of mission-critical equipment, such as decontamination equipment. For example, Army chemical units, particularly in the National Guard and Reserve, currently lack a substantial portion of their authorized light decontamination equipment. Because they lack key personnel and equipment, some units have not been able to train for their wartime chemical and biological defense missions. Army National Guard and Reserve chemical unit readiness problems have historically been attributed to personnel and equipment shortages, and recently these have been greatly exacerbated by personnel and equipment transfers to other types of units in support of current operations.

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  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare

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