Information Papers

Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction

What is it?
Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) consists of efforts to dissuade, deter, and defeat those who seek to harm the United States, its partners, and allies through WMD (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN)) use or threat of use and, if attacked, mitigate their effects and restore deterrence.

What has the Army done?
Informed by the National Military Strategy to Combat WMD (NMS-CWMD), the Army embraced an approach linked to the three pillars of CWMD (Nonproliferation (NP), Counterproliferation (CP), and Consequence Management (CM) To limit the possession, acquisition or development of WMD capabilities by rogue states, non-state actors, and terrorist organizations, the Army adheres to national implementation and compliance initiatives for cooperative threat reduction, treaties, agreements, export controls and international programs aimed at preventing, dissuading, and denying access to WMD capabilities. This framework enhances the global norms against State, non-state actors, and terrorist possession and proliferation of WMD and contributes to efforts to preclude the need for crisis intervention and consequence management relating to WMD. To deter, deny, and counter adversary development, acquisition, possession, proliferation and use of WMD , the Army leverages capabilities to provide, train, and equip forces to support the Combatant Commanders’ CWMD mission. This includes interdiction of illicit shipments of WMD-related material and dual-use items, and offensive operations to destroy or disable WMD. The Army 20th Support Command (CBRNE) achieved Initial Operating Capability in September 2007 to serve as a Joint Task Force headquarters capable of rapid deployment to command and control WMD elimination and site exploitation missions, and will reach Full Operational Capability in September 2009. At the tactical level, the Army is capable of providing a combined arms force to execute the WMD elimination mission centered on specialized CBRNE units. The Army supports the development of doctrine and guidance on elimination and interdiction operations that address gaps identified in the Interdiction and Elimination Capabilities Based Assessments (CBAs) and prioritize future solutions.

As the Executive Agent for the DoD Chemical and Biological Defense Program, the Army executes its responsibilities for providing a strategic “roadmap” that ensures critical chemical and biological protection and defense for the Armed Forces.

To protect against, respond to and mitigate the effects of WMD use against the U.S. and its forces, and US interests abroad, the Army continues to prepare its forces to execute passive defense (PD) and CM operations. These activities include assisting friends and allies to enable rapid recovery and restore essential services.

To support Homeland Defense (HD) and domestic CBRN operations, the Army ensured appropriate resourcing for USNORTHCOM’s HD and domestic CBRN CM requirements. The Army activated U.S. Army North (ARNORTH), the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) to USNORTHCOM, to provide an Army headquarters capable of supporting a range of HD operations and disaster assistance.

The Army is enhancing its capability of hazardous response and decontamination by adding full spectrum CBRN dismounted reconnaissance capability and modular decontamination systems for mass casualties. In support of NORTHCOM CBRN CM Response Force, the Army is working to ensure capabilities are aligned to support NORTHCOM requirements that include developing detection and assessment capabilities within the US Army Reserve and support to National Guard initiatives. The Army is also integrating CM into the Multi-Service Force Development-Steady State Security Posture Review and the Installation Protection Program.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned in the future?
The Army will continue to participate in international agreements and develop CWMD policy and initiatives that support the national and military strategies to CWMD. To support Geographic Command Commanders’ security cooperation activities, the ASCCs will assist in building CWMD capabilities and capacity of allies and partners. The Army continues to serve on the NATO Joint Capability Group and Operations Working Group for CBRN Defense and continues involvement with American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand (ABCA) CBRN defense operations.

To support full spectrum operations, the Army is examining a wide array of CBRN-related missions and increasing capabilities with both specialized units and conventional chemical decontamination and reconnaissance platoons for potential CBRN CM missions within the homeland and over seas. The Army is developing a CWMD Concept Capabilities Plan (CCP) for the years 2015 – 2024 that emphasizes the CWMD missions in which the Army plays a vital role. The Army will use this CCP to conduct a detailed DOTLMPF analysis that will inform CBAs, experimentation, and future capabilities for the Army to conduct CWMD operations.

The Army continues to draw on the United States Army Nuclear and CWMD Agency (USANCA) for CWMD expertise. A Field Operating Agency (FOA) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, USANCA provides CWMD planning and assistance support and teams to ASCCs, and also provides proponency management for Functional Area 52 (Nuclear and Counterproliferation) officers for the Army, Joint and interagency organizations.

The Army is examining the its role in interdicting illicit shipments of WMD and related materials to expand beyond maritime shipping to include overland smuggling. The Army will support DTRA’s efforts to develop CBRN agent defeat capabilities that can engage WMD targets while causing little or no collateral damage.

Why is this important to the Army?
Enhancing Army CWMD expertise and capabilities is critical to ensuring US success in the Global War on Terrorism. Bolstering global capabilities and capacity to combat WMD reduces the demand for Army forces. As the Army transforms and prepares to meet the CWMD requirements in the 21st century security environment, it must ensure it sustains the steady state security posture identified in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review while maintaining its capability to support major combat operations.