The U.S. Defense Department should revise numerous elements of its preparations for responding to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, a congressionally established experts panel warned in a report issued yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 10).The report outlines more than 40 steps Congress and the Obama administration could take to improve the country's WMD response capabilities. The panel, comprised for former high-level U.S. military officials, former lawmakers, National Guard officers and academic experts on disaster response, received support from RAND Corp. in completing the study.
“This is a matter of critical importance because such an incident will happen, and the stakes are too high to delay action,” panel Chairman Steve Abbot said in a statement. “In our year of deliberations, we identified a number of findings and recommendations that will allow the Department of Defense to better support the civil authorities that will respond to a domestic disaster" (RAND Corp. release, Sept. 15).
The department wields many of the powers it would need to aid civilian agencies after a biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive strike, but the powers "are not widely known and are frequently misunderstood," says the document, prepared by the Advisory Panel on Department of Defense Capabilities for Support of Civil Authorities After Certain Incidents.