The United States has a high capacity to deal with Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that might be used against the country’s citizens, armed forces, friends and allies. The United States has an effective approach that is summarized in three pillars: involving nonproliferation, counter-proliferation and WMD consequence management. The nonproliferation approach combats proliferation of WMD, associated material, expertise and technology between states and terrorist groups. Nonproliferation involves diplomatic approaches, threat of reduced cooperation and control of nuclear materials. Counter proliferation approaches involve deterrence, interdiction, defense and mitigation, offensive and elimination operations, active and passive defense to counter the use of WMD by adversaries against homeland and armed forces. In case the adversaries succeed in using WMD against the United States, they still have the elaborate response means to the possible effects through WMD consequence management. The United States effective intelligence and its capacity to build partnerships further indicate impressive ability to combat WMD.
Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) include chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and agents. When terrorists and hostile parties possess them, they pose a serious security threat to the U.S. Though it may not succeed in completely containing and preventing WMD proliferation to terrorists and hostile nations, the U.S. civilian agencies, joint staff, combatant commands and the military possess a high level of operation capacity in countering the WMD use and threat of use by adversaries against the U.S. civilians, its armed forces, and allies.
The U.S. to combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) has three strategies. Nonproliferation blocks the transfer of WMD and its associated materials. Counter proliferation eliminates the use of WMD and consequence management responds to mitigate the effects of WMD, once the adversaries have used them against the U.S. The three pillars offer a great illustration of the U.S high organizational level in combating WMD.
In supporting these strategies, the U.S. military and security enforcement agencies prevent the adversaries from threatening or using WMD against homeland, mitigating the effects and restoring deterrence in case of a WMD attack. They combat WMD through various operations discussed within the three strategies.
The U.S. undertakes measures to prevent terrorists and states from acquiring missiles and WMD. The U.S. has a set of nonproliferation policies, initiatives, and agreements that are under the management of the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau (ISN). The U.S. dissuades terrorist networks and states from proliferation through the enhanced traditional measures, such as export controls, diplomacy, multilateral agreements, arms control, and reduction assistance threat (United States & United States, 2011). These measures make the access to sensitive expertise costly or delay materials or technologies for proliferation. The proliferation was also termed as a criminal activity. The U.S. complies with relevant international agreements, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to ensure that it works harmoniously with other states to gain more capacity in impeding unauthorized transfers of missile technology, WMD, supportive materials and expertise. Non-proliferation involves various undertakings.
Active Proliferation Diplomacy
Through active Nonproliferation Diplomacy, the U.S. pursues its nonproliferation goals by actively using diplomatic approaches in multilateral and bilateral settings. It worked in coordination with the G-8 partners to form the Global Partnership against WMD proliferation and contributed $10 billion, half of its budget (Heyes et al., 2011). It prevents the supplier states from proliferating WMD to receiving states and induces the states to end their WMD programs. The U.S. continues to build coalitions with states to support programs of threat reduction, cooperation and nonproliferation. Even if the efforts of nonproliferation fail, the U.S. has a vast operational capacity to defend the state from adversaries.
Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Cooperation
The U.S. pursues a plethora of programs, such as the Nunn-Lugar program that addresses the threat of proliferation, emanating from the excess Soviet-legacy WMD, materials and expertise (Heyes et al., 2011). It maintains an efficient and extensive set of programs of threat reduction assistance and nonproliferation to Russia and former Soviet states. The U.S. encourages allies and friends to continue contributing to these programs in order to collectively combat the spread of WMD.
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Control of Nuclear Material
The U.S. engages in efforts to control nuclear materials. It has heavily invested in nuclear detection devices, such as the pocket Radiac set, and a portable radiation detection set. It discourages the global stockpiling of separated plutonium and reduces the use of high- percentage uranium. The National Energy Policy of the United States facilitates it to collaborate with international partners in developing fuel treatment and recycling technologies that are less waste-intensive, more efficient, cleaner, and proliferation resistant.
The civilian agencies and the U.S. military have advanced preparations to deter and defend the nation against possible scenarios, where terrorists may use WMD. It fully integrates the required capabilities to combat WMD into the homeland security posture and the defense transformation plan. The U.S. also fully integrates counter proliferation into the basic doctrine, equipping all the forces and training to facilitate them in sustaining operations to defeat enemies armed with WMD. By the end of 2012, the U.S. Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) had rendered safe 52 HEU fuelled research reactors, recovered 1,100 kilograms of spent and fresh HEU fuel, repatriated to Russia 150 kilograms of HEU fuel and removed from sight 18,000 radioactive sources (United States, 2012). The following are the activities of counter proliferation.
The U.S., with the help of its military, designs interdiction operations to prevent the proliferation of WMD and accompanying expertise, substance, and dual-use technologies between adversaries. Commanders readily interdict WMD and associated material in both permissive and non-permissive environments and work with other U.S. partner allied states and Government agencies. U.S. monitors air, land and sea borders of a suspect nation and searches the foreign ships and air transport to prevent WMD smuggling by these means. In 2003, the U.S. military intercepted the BBC China ship en route to Libya carrying centrifuges (Moyer & Naval Postgraduate School).
The commanders readily identify intercept, safely secure, render-safe or dispose any WMD or associated materials. Interdiction involves both traditional military interdiction, employed during hostilities, and military interdiction of dual-use materials conducted during peace times. The operations disrupt and dismantle proliferation networks by interdicting shipments associated with proliferation. The commanders have a high capability of disrupting, delaying, diverting, or destroying the WMD capability of the adversaries in non-permissive and permissive environments before the adversaries use them against U.S. Armed Forces and civilians. The U.S. has designed a systematic interagency approach to respond to the growing complexity and volume of trade in WMD. The U.S. has created a sustained effort to disrupt and track this trade to block an access to WMD. The Armed Forces of the U.S. have a high interdiction capability, as attributed to its credible, timely and actionable intelligence. In a permissive environment, the U.S. interdicts the trafficking of WMD and related materials by participating in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), where a coalition of like-minded nations plan, exercise, and execute interdiction operations to disrupt WMD trafficking.
The U.S. has the ability to generate a prospect of punishment to its aggressors of WMD by threats of retaliation. For example, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) coordinated a bombing in 2011 and assassinated the Rabbani, the Afghan High Peace chairman for using nuclear weapons (NISA, 2012). The U.S. has effective military forces and a strong declaratory policy, necessary for the contemporary deterrent posture. It has a full range of political tools that facilitate them to persuade potential enemies to restrain from using WMD. When the persuasion fails, the U.S. reserves the right of retaliating with overwhelming force. The deterrent posture includes the defense capabilities, conventional and nuclear response. The U.S. effective intelligence, interdiction, surveillance, and capabilities of domestic law enforcement reinforce the overall deterrence against WMD. Deterrence devalues the missiles and WMD of the adversary and poses the likelihood of an immense retaliation to the use of WMD.
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Defense and Mitigation
The U.S. averts the possible adverse effects using WMD against the U.S. civilians and forces. The U.S. puts in place preemptive measures with the ability of detecting and destroying the WMD assets of the adversaries before they use these weapons. They have robust passive and active defenses and measures of mitigation that enable appropriate civilian agencies and U.S. military forces to accomplish their mission against the use of WMD. The U.S. military tailors passive defenses with unique characteristics that match various WMD forms. The U.S. has a rapid and effective mitigation mechanism, in case its deployed forces are attacked by WMD. It has a specific defense approach against both biological and chemical threats.
The U.S. domestic law enforcement agencies and military forces stand ready to counter the WMD attacks or sources. Their response ability helps to stamp out the threats of future attacks by disrupting imminent attacks or destroying attacks in progress. Concerning prevention and deterrence, the U.S. has an effective response, attributed with a robust strike capability. The United States stands ready to conduct post-conflict operations which help to destroy potential residual WMD capabilities of terrorist networks or hostile states. These approaches deter adversaries that seek or possess WMD and stamps out the sources of WMD attacks.
The military uses air defense, missile defense, and special operations against unconventionally and conventionally delivered WMD. The defenses also disrupt, destroy, or disable WMD before they reach their targeted areas. They have an established layered network defensive capability that incorporates networked homeland and regional, air, land, sea, and space-based systems. They employ non-kinetic and kinetic means to ensure that the adversaries do not deliver WMD.
The military has the capacity to negate or minimize the effects of use of WMD against U.S. It includes four capabilities. They include providing timely information concerning CBRN situation, characterizing CBRN hazards for understanding of the current situations and prediction of future hazards, offering protection from hazards and sustaining operations in contaminated environments.
The U.S. uses kinetic options, such as nuclear, conventional and non-kinetic options, such as information operations to combat WMD. In the offensive operations, the military detects, identifies, disrupts, and destroys the WMD assets and related facilities, means of delivery, and high-value targets required for the achievement of the desired effects. The military has specialized capabilities in locating, seizing, securing, recapturing, recovering, and destroying or rendering safe stolen or lost WMD; defeating deeply buried and hard targets; neutralizing the biological and chemical agents and other weapons with minimal to no collateral effect.
These operations systematically characterize, locate, disable secure, and destroy WMD programs of adversaries in hostile environments. These operations are necessary when offensive operations against WMD targets bear unacceptable risk to U.S. armed forces or the civilian population. The military combats further proliferation by employing intelligence exploitation of documents, program experts, and previously secured weapons. On accomplishment of these activities, the military transfer elimination operations to other U.S. Government agencies, host nations and international agencies to continue destruction of WMD programs. The DOD integrates elimination mission into organization, doctrine, and training programming processes. The commanders discharge the whole process of elimination activities until they get a warrant to transfer authority to another agency.
WMD Consequence Management
United States fully responds to the use of WMD by terrorists and hostile states to defend its homeland. The US responds to the effects of the use of WMD against her friends and allies and her forces deployed abroad. The Homeland Security organ designs Government programs to counter the consequences of WMD use in the United States. The programs provide planning, training, and assistance to the federal governments and the state. The efforts and programs are highly effective because they are comprehensive and integrated. The first responders are equipped with a full range of remediation, medical, and protective tools, which facilitate the identification, assessment, and rapid response to an event of WMD in the U.S. jurisdiction. The Homeland’s White House Office of Security coordinates the entire federal efforts in mitigation and preparation for the consequences of attacks, involving WMD within the United States. The Homeland Security office, in partnership with the federal government and the state address the requirements of equipment, planning and training. The office of National Security Council is responsible for combating terrorism; it helps to improve the efforts of U.S. in responding to and managing the recovery from WMD attacks outside the U.S. The department of state cooperates with the Office of Combating Terrorism (OCT) to coordinate interagency efforts in partnering with the U.S. friends and allies to help them develop their capabilities in management.
The three pillars show the great organization of the U.S. as a capacity to combat WMD. Three critical functions integrate and enhance the pillars and the military missions to make the actions of U.S against WMD more elaborate. They include strategic enablers and military mission areas.
These are pervasive capabilities that facilitate the U.S. military to execute their tactics. They strengthen the integration and effectiveness of military’s capabilities to combat WMD. The three strategic enablers, which include intelligence, strategic communication and partnership capacity, facilitate the efforts of the Department of Defense (DOD) to combat WMD.
Intelligence directly supports planning strategy and decision-making; it informs risk management, planning and expedites improvements in operational capabilities. The intelligence agencies in the U.S. include National Security Agency; CIS and FBI monitor suspicious activities to detect and interdict efforts of terrorists (Johnson & Wirtz, 2008). The strong WMD intelligence shows a great capacity to issue early warning of CBRN attack, and offer meticulous intelligence in its operations. Actionable intelligence enables U.S. to prevent, reverse or defeat the use and proliferation of WMD. Intelligence facilitates a complete and precise understanding of the adversary’s full range of WMD and proliferation activities for the development of effective approaches. The U.S. intelligence exploits vast sources, improves situational awareness and facilitates information sharing to reduce uncertainty. Intelligence enables detection of threat. Detection involves the efforts of intelligence community to gather information required for strategic planning, decision making and investment in tactical or operational detection of a CBRN threat on the battlefield. Prior detection enables identification of the nature of WMD facilities, so that decision effectively designs defeat options.
Strategic Communication Support
The U.S.shapes perceptions in national, regional and global level through strategic communication. The nation has made progress in combating WND because of integration ofpublic affairs, diplomacy, andinformation operations. U.S. actions and wordsunderscore the risks and costs the potential adversaries may face when using WMD.
Building Partnership Capacity
Incorporating capabilities of allies and partners to combating WMD supports the ability of U.S. to defend the homeland. Security cooperation efforts focus on proliferation security initiative (PSI), missile defense cooperation, passive defense, WMD consequence management cooperation and elimination. An example is the U.S efforts in developing the elimination capacity of NATO and the establishment of the NATO CBRN defense battalion. The allied nations and partners have the ability to survive an attack, restore military departments, essential operations and eliminate further threats. The international community’s assistance adds to the efforts of U.S. to sustain operations and effectively combat WMD.
The United States exhibits a great capacity to combat WMD. It has carried out bombings on various states that proliferate and use WMD, such as Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and many other states. It has also foiled up to 50 WMD attacks against homeland since 2001. However, major WMD attacks, such as the 9/11 expose the soft underbelly of the U.S. to foil major attacks.
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