facebook linkedin twitter

Defense Experts Warn of New Threats From Weapons of Mass Destruction

May 5, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
1st WMD-CST passes training proficiency evaluation (Photo by Mark Olsen New Jersey National Guard)

WASHINGTON — Defense experts portrayed a bleak outlook Tuesday during a congressional hearing for risks to the United States and the world from weapons of mass destruction.

No recent example is better than the COVID-19 pandemic, which is fast approaching 3.5 million deaths worldwide, according to lawmakers and witnesses at the House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

“The novel coronavirus was not weaponized but it could be,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who chairs the subcommittee on intelligence and special operations.

Viruses represent the biological portion of weapons of mass destruction, which also include nuclear and chemical weapons.

Witnesses at the hearing agreed the threats are growing but declined to give details of the worst risks and U.S. strategies for confronting them, citing national security concerns during a public meeting.

“As the nature of [weapons of mass destruction] threats is evolving, we know we have more work to do,” said Jennifer Walsh, an assistant defense secretary.

Much of their effort is directed at achieving “multiple returns on the same investment” to handle the profusion of threats, Walsh said.

Otherwise, there are too many potential weapons to manage on a one-to-one basis, she said.

“We recognize this spectrum of threats is crowded,” Walsh said.

Although the defense experts refused to openly discuss all of the growing menace, they acknowledged to lawmakers that many of the challenges could be found in recent news reports.

One of them was revealed Tuesday in a report from the Netherlands’ General Intelligence and Security Service.

It said the Islamic Republic of Iran tried to obtain technology in 2020 for nuclear weapons, despite denials from its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year,” says the Dutch security service report published in April but disclosed by the Israeli news media on Tuesday.

Khamenei tweeted in February that his country had no interest in nuclear weapons.

Another emerging threat was described last month in a report from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It discussed how drones could be outfitted with powerful explosives and assembled by software and radio waves into a formation that could travel to a target.

Even if one or some of the drones are shot down, hundreds of others in the swarm could continue to attack.

Although the Defense Department refuses to reveal all its high-tech deterrence systems, one of them was announced last month in a contract with government contractor Battelle Memorial Institute.

The company agreed to develop networked sensors to detect and identify biological weapons. 

The $8.5 million contract is one segment of the Defense Department’s SIGMA+ project. The project is using sensitive detectors and intelligence analytics to identify a range of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

However, Defense Department officials told the House subcommittee that even with the most modern defensive systems, they face an ominous dilemma.

“The pace of technology continues to move faster and faster,” said Brandi C. Vann, an assistant defense secretary.

Vice Adm. Timothy G. Szymanski, deputy commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said the Defense Department needs personnel with “specialized expertise and authorities” to counter the sophisticated threats.

Military

September 9, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp
Philippines’ National Defense Secretary Says U.S.-Philippine Treaty Needs Update

WASHINGTON -- At an event on Wednesday, reflecting on the 70 years the U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty has been in... Read More

WASHINGTON -- At an event on Wednesday, reflecting on the 70 years the U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty has been in place, the secretary for national defense in the Philippines said the countries need a comprehensive review of the treaty. Chargé d’Affaires John Law, who is in the process... Read More

Biden Ousts 18 Trump Military Academy Board Appointees

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Wednesday removed 18 appointees named to U.S. military academy boards by Donald Trump... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Wednesday removed 18 appointees named to U.S. military academy boards by Donald Trump in the final months of the Republican president's term in office, according to the White House. Cathy Russell, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office,... Read More

September 8, 2021
by Reece Nations
Pentagon to Address Supply Chain Issues Unveiled by Pandemic

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is establishing a supply chain resiliency working group to address systemic barriers that limit... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is establishing a supply chain resiliency working group to address systemic barriers that limit “supply chain visibility” in addition to performing resiliency assessments and developing effective mitigation measures. In February, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing government agencies... Read More

September 7, 2021
by Dan McCue
Congressional Gold Medal Eyed for Kabul Attack Heroes

WASHINGTON -- Just days after their remains were returned home to their families for burial, the 13 U.S. service members... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Just days after their remains were returned home to their families for burial, the 13 U.S. service members killed during a deadly attack at the Kabul airport last month appear likely to receive Congress’s highest honor. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Lisa McClain, R-Mich.,... Read More

Last Troops Exit Afghanistan, Ending America's Longest War

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America's longest war and closing a... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America's longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180... Read More

Biden Vows to Finish Kabul Evacuation, Avenge US Deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is vowing to complete the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan after... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is vowing to complete the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan after the deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. He promised to avenge the deaths of 13 U.S. service members killed in the attack, declaring to the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top