Chemical and Biological Defense:

Emphasis Remains Insufficient to Resolve Continuing Problems

T-NSIAD-96-154: Published: May 1, 1996. Publicly Released: May 1, 1996.

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GAO discussed the capability of U.S. forces to fight and survive chemical and biological warfare. GAO noted that: (1) none of the Army's crisis-response or early-deployment units have complied with requirements for stocking equipment critical for fighting under chemical or biological warfare; (2) the Department of Defense (DOD) has established two joint service groups to prioritize chemical and biological defense research efforts, develop a modernization plan, and develop support plans; (3) although DOD has begun to field a biological agent detection system, it has not successfully fielded other needed equipment and systems to address critical battlefield deficiencies; (4) ground forces are inadequately trained to conduct critical tasks related to biological and chemical warfare, and there are serious weaknesses at all levels in chemical and biological defense skills; (5) medical units often lack the equipment and training needed to treat casualties resulting from chemical or biological contamination; (6) DOD has inadequate stocks of vaccines for known threat agents and not implemented the immunization policy established in 1993; and (7) the primary cause of these deficiencies is a lack of emphasis along the DOD command chain, with DOD focusing its efforts and resources on other priorities.

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