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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 014-03
January 09, 2003

DOD IS PREPARED TO PROTECT AGAINST BIOLOGICAL THREATS

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs William Winkenwerder Jr. today stated that the U.S. military is prepared to protect its personnel against the use of biological weapons. The Department uses a range of measures to protect servicemembers from biological threats including combinations of protective clothing and equipment, detectors, vaccines, antibiotics and training.

"The Chemical Biological Defense Program's initiatives over the last decade have significantly improved our ability to protect servicemembers from the effects of biowarfare weapons. Our commanders on the battlefield today have the benefit of those improvements," said Winkenwerder.

DoD's protective measures are strongest against two significant biological threats: anthrax and smallpox. Leaders are also prepared to deal with other biological threats. DoD has supplies of anthrax and smallpox vaccines available to protect its at-risk forces.

Winkenwerder stated, "in addition to the vaccines against the most likely biological threats, anthrax and smallpox, DoD has other countermeasures to protect against biological threat agents."

The Department continues to develop enhanced detection, prevention and treatment methods to guard against all biological threats and works cooperatively with other federal agencies, especially the Department of Health and Human Services, private sector and academic researchers and manufacturers to develop new medical countermeasures.

America's troops are well-trained and protected with a robust, multi-layered set of defenses against bioweapons. DoD is committed to developing and fielding the most effective countermeasures to keep our uniformed men and women healthy and safe.