US soldier

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has released an updated policy for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Titled ‘Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction’, the report represents the first update to DoD’s counter-WMD plan since 2006, and focuses on preventing adversaries from purchasing such weapons and mitigating threats at an earl stage.

US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said: "This updated strategy provides foundational guidance for enacting the department’s countering WMD policies, plans and programmes, and advances a comprehensive response to existing and developing WMD threats."

The strategy includes several new priority objectives, one of which is to increase the barriers to the acquisition and use of WMD capabilities, and manage risks originating from hostile, fragile or failed states and safe havens.

"The strategy includes several new priority objectives, one of which is to increase the barriers to the acquisition and use of WMD capabilities."

Another objective is to ensure the presence of a fully layered and integrated set of defences to alleviate the risks associated with WMD use, and to look comprehensively on a global basis between the needs of combatant commanders and US domestic requirements.

An unnamed senior defence official said the updated strategy shifts the focus from some of the earlier documents, and puts the emphasis on prevention and reducing and mitigating threats earlier, rather than focusing more exclusively on military options that might be associated with crises in later phases.

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"It reflects what we are doing and activities that we have underway, the ways we have been responding to events in the world over the last five years and the way we have been learning from those events," the official said.

"Documenting such activities does give us the ability to … capture and structure the changes that have developed, especially over the last five years, so that going forward we can use a broad, flexible document to better guide investment planning, force and capability development and so forth."

Image: A US soldier conducts sensitive site exploitation inside a ‘shoot-house’ during a WMD intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance experiment. Photo: courtesy of the Naval Postgraduate School, photo by Kenneth Stewart.

Defence Technology