DOD behind in CBRN preparation

The U.S. Defense Department's chief chemical and biological weapons official recently said that the Pentagon lacks a clear vision of how the country's adversaries could misuse the latest advances in biotechnology and chemistry.

Gerald Parker, the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for chemical and biological defense, said that he must further examine how the DOD utilizes its laboratories, Army commands and offices tasked with preparing for an attack from chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, according to Foreign Policy.

"The pace of the scientific development is so rapid, and trying to understand where adversaries may try to use that advancement in, say, biotechnology, synthetic biology, genetic engineering, how it may be misused, is what we have to try to anticipate," Parker said, Foreign Policy reports. "And that's where we don't have a good crystal ball."

Parker, who manages the scientific end of CBRN defense, recently commissioned the National Research Council to provide a recommendation about where to start. The NRC created a long list that includes building a basic framework for evaluations and better collaboration across DOD agencies.

"Bold moves are needed to break the current stagnation that permeates the chemical and biological [science and technology] and acquisition environment," the NRC said, Foreign Policy reports. "Tweaking the management or refocusing a few projects will not be sufficient."