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Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD)

What is it?
Combating WMD consists of efforts to dissuade, deter, and defeat those who seek to use WMD (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons) to harm the United States, its partners, and allies. And, if attacked, mitigate their effects and restore deterrence.

What has the Army done?
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 supports efforts to preclude the need for crisis intervention and consequence management (CM) relating to WMD.

To deter, deny, and counter adversary development, acquisition, possession, proliferation, and use of WMD, the Army provides, trained, and equipped forces to support the combatant commanders' CWMD mission. The Army's 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 that address gaps identified in the Interdiction and Elimination Capability Based Assessments (CBAs) and prioritize future solutions.

As the executive agent for the Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program, the Army provides a strategic "roadmap" that ensures critical chemical and biological protection and defense for the Armed Forces.

To support homeland defense (HD) and domestic CBRNE operations, the Army provides forces to the United States Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM's) HD and domestic CBRNE CM requirements. The Army activated U.S. Army North, 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 CBRNE dismounted reconnaissance capability and modular decontamination systems for mass casualties. In support of the NORTHCOM CBRNE CM Response Force, the Army is working to ensure capabilities are aligned to support USNORTHCOM requirements that include developing detection and assessment capabilities within the U.S. 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 (IPP). The IPP and the Army Emergency First Responder Program enhance equipping, training, and employing CBRNE specialists at selected Army Installations. To ensure equipment survivability against WMD attacks, the Army designs and builds its mission critical systems to survive the effects of CBRNE weapons. Effects include nuclear weapon effects and chemical weapons and decontaminants. Survivability is achieved through a combination of material solutions like equipment hardening, and non-material solutions like tactics, techniques, and procedures. To ensure the security and safety of biological select agents and toxins (BSAT) and the suitability of personnel who handle BSAT, the Secretary of the Army established a task force to review biosecurity and biosafety policies and implementation focused on BSAT facilities, personnel, and transportation.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue to participate in international agreements and develop CWMD policy and initiatives that support and assist in building CWMD capabilities and capacity of our allies and partners. The Army continues to serve on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Joint Capability and Operations Working Groups for CBRNE defense and with the American, British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand armies program efforts in CBRNE defense operations.

To support full spectrum operations, the Army is examining a wide array of CBRNE-related missions and increasing capabilities with both specialized units and conventional chemical decontamination and reconnaissance platoons for potential CBRNE CM missions at home and overseas.

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 doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities analysis that will inform CBAs, experimentation, and future capabilities for the Army to conduct CWMD operations.

The Army draws upon the United States Army Nuclear and CWMD Agency (USANCA) for CWMD expertise. A field operating agency 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 will further refine implementation of CWMD Planning Assistance Teams. In addition, USANCA provides proponency management for Functional Area 52 (Nuclear and Counterproliferation) officers for the Army, Joint, and interagency organizations.

Why is this important to the Army?
Enhancing Army CWMD expertise and capabilities is critical to ensuring U.S. success in Overseas Contingency Operations. Bolstering global capabilities and capacity to combat WMD reduces the demand for Army forces. As the Army transforms and prepares to meet future CWMD requirements, it must ensure it sustains the steady state security posture while maintaining its capability to support major combat operations.

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