Fallacies Leading to the Marginalization of Future CBRN Capabilities
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In both the 2012 National Security Strategy NSS and 2012 U.S. Army strategic planning guidance, combating weapons of mass destruction WMD remains a priority. However, the need for fiscal restraint has led in recent years to acceptable reductions across the range of DoDs WMD capabilities, based largely on operational lessons learned during the past decade of combat. This has resulted in the reduction of U.S. Army chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear CBRN forces, capabilities, and training, despite the national-level recognition of the continued threat of WMD attacks. In particular, the reduction of CBRN forces by 14 over the last 5 years highlights the U.S. Armys neglect of this critical capability, contrary to the requirements of the NSS. Three case studies highlight flaws in both Army and DoD assessments that have contributed to the recent trend of reduction in CBRN capabilities. In the first case study, Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF contributed to a flawed understanding of the WMD threat and a related willingness to accept excessive levels of risk through CBRN capability reductions. The second case study assesses whether the United States remains prepared to satisfy international expectations of U.S. CBRN support during sanctioned NATO missions, such as the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. The final case study considers the recent NSS directive to shift DoDs strategic focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, and the effect this shift will have on future U.S. Army CBRN capabilities. The significant WMD risk resident in this region further highlights the risk involved in CBRN capability reductions. All of these factors demonstrate that these capability reductions rest on a foundation of flawed analysis and warrant a second review. If the recent trend in CBRN force and capability reductions continues, it has the potential to create unacceptable long-term national security vulnerabilities.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
- Nuclear Warfare