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DoD to Build Upon Existing Counter-WMD Capabilities

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2006 – The Defense Department is taking more steps to address the threat that terrorists are seeking weapons of mass destruction to use against U.S. forces and the homeland, a senior DoD official told reporters here today.

"If you look at what we've done to date, we've nearly doubled our investments in chemical and biological defenses," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "We've implemented any number of important organizational changes to address the challenges that are posed by WMD more effectively."

The U.S. military must have the capability to protect itself against chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, as well as the competency to locate and characterize such threats, Whitman said.

DoD recently consolidated five formerly separate Defense Threat Reduction Agency locations into one headquarters facility, called the Defense Threat Reduction Center, at Fort Belvoir, Va. DTRA provides capabilities to counter the threat posed by WMDs.

"Countering WMD has been a priority for the department in terms of making sure that our future forces are organized, trained, equipped and resourced to deal with all aspects of threats that are posed by WMD," Whitman said.

The upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2007 defense budget recommendation will likely reflect the need to bolster counter-WMD programs, Whitman said. "I think that you'll see going forward that we'll be further increasing funding for chemical, biological defense programs," Whitman said.

Whitman characterized a news report today speculating on DoD creating a special military task force to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMDs as "a reflection of some of the things that you will see in the future to build upon some of the things that we've already done."

DoD realizes the importance of having organizations designed, trained and equipped to deal with asymmetrical threats presented by chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Whitman said.

"The QDR is going to address that," he said. "And our way in which we establish priorities will reflect that."

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Defense Threat Reduction Agency

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