DOD Leaders Brief Congress on WMD Threats and Department’s Response


The lethality of the U.S. military “depends on our warfighters’ ability to deter, prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons and their effects, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for chemical and biological defense programs told Congress yesterday.

“CBRN agents pose uniquely destructive threats,” D. Christian Hassell said during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities.

“They can empower a small group of actors with terribly destructive potential,” Hassell said. “Thus, countering weapons of mass destruction as far from our homeland as possible is a key mission for the U.S. military we help enable.”

Hassell was joined by Theresa Whelan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security; Navy Vice Adm. Timothy G. Szymanski, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and, Vayl S. Oxford, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

A robust and modern nuclear deterrent has been the cornerstone of American security for more than 70 years, and “underwrites U.S. security, diplomacy and conventional military operations worldwide,” Hassell said, adding that given the strategic environment, nuclear deterrence…

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