Chemical and Biological Defense: Updated Intelligence, Clear Guidance, and Consistent Priorities Needed to Guide Investments in Collective Protection

GAO-07-113 Published: Jan 19, 2007. Publicly Released: Feb 20, 2007.
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Highlights

For the military to operate in environments contaminated by chemical and biological warfare agents, the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed collective protection equipment to provide a protected environment for group activities. GAO previously reported persistent problems in providing collective protection for U.S. forces in high threat areas overseas. In this report, GAO examined (1) current intelligence assessments of chemical and biological threats, (2) the extent to which DOD has provided collective protection at critical overseas facilities and major expeditionary warfighting assets, and (3) DOD's framework for managing installation protection policies and prioritizing critical installations for funding. In conducting this review, GAO developed criteria to identify critical sites in the absence of a DOD priority listing of such sites in overseas high threat areas--areas at high risk of terrorist or missile attack.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of the Director of National Intelligence In light of the need for the most current intelligence estimates to help guide the government's--including DOD's--risk assessments and investment decisions, the Director of National Intelligence should identify the impediments interfering with his ability to update the chemical warfare National Intelligence Estimate, and take the necessary steps to bring the report to issuance.
Closed – Not Implemented
Since GAO's report was issued in 2007, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has published a series of country-specific Intelligence Community Assessments addressing the chemical warfare activities of "relevant" countries. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence views these intelligence community assessments as "building blocks" leading toward a future National Intelligence Estimate; however, did not provide a time frame for when such a document would be prepared. While producing intelligence community assessments may be a positive step, we do not believe these assessments meet the intent of our recommendation nor do they address the need for an integrated, worldwide assessment of the chemical warfare threat. We continue to believe that an updated chemical warfare National Intelligence Estimate is needed to provide critical input and basis for DOD decision making.
Department of Defense To ensure that the problems in the overall installation protection and collective protection policies and programs do not continue to place military personnel and operations at increased risk and undercut the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD resource allocations and to ensure better coordination and integration of the overall installation protection activities, the Secretary of Defense--as part of the ongoing reorganization--should designate a single integrating authority with the responsibility to coordinate and integrate worldwide installation preparedness policies and operating concepts.
Closed – Not Implemented
The Department of Defense Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense) has stated that installation preparedness, including implementing procedures to mitigate terrorist incidents are performed under DOD's antiterrorism program, in accordance with DOD Directive 2000.12, with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/ Low-Intensity Conflict having worldwide responsibility for worldwide antiterrorism activities. However, DOD Directive 2000.12 does not address our recommendation to designate a single authority within the department with responsibility for worldwide installation preparedness and operation concepts. Consequently, we do not believe this action addresses the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense To ensure that the problems in the overall installation protection and collective protection policies and programs do not continue to place military personnel and operations at increased risk and undercut the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD resource allocations and to ensure better coordination and integration of the overall installation protection activities, the Secretary of Defense--as part of the ongoing reorganization--should assign this single authority with the responsibility to oversee efforts to gain DOD-wide agreement on criteria for identifying critical facilities and to develop a system for prioritizing critical facilities and infrastructure for funding protection improvements.
Closed – Implemented
In early 2008, The Office of the Secretary of Defense issued guidance that assigns responsibility for the Defense Critical Infrastructure Program to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense/ America's Security Affairs). This guidance points out that the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense/ America's Security Affairs)will oversee efforts to identify critical facilities and for prioritizing critical facilities and infrastructure for the purpose of funding protection improvements, which will help DOD ensure funding for critical facilities are allocated appropriately and efficiently.
Department of Defense To ensure that the problems in the overall installation protection and collective protection policies and programs do not continue to place military personnel and operations at increased risk and undercut the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD resource allocations and to help ensure clear and consistent guidance in the chemical and biological collective protection program, the Secretary of Defense--as part of the ongoing reorganization--should direct the Joint Staff and military services to develop clear and consistent criteria to guide overarching strategic decisions on the use of collective protection at DOD facilities, including issues such as whether decisions on the need for collective protection should be prescribed or left to commanders' discretion, the use of integrated overpressure and filtration systems versus portable structures, and what mission functions must be protected.
Closed – Implemented
In July 2007 DOD updated its field manual 3-11.34, to include guidance on the installation commander's responsibility to establish a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear plan, and that this plan will guide commanders in making decisions on the use of collective protection. The manual also provides guidance on the use of integrated overpressure systems and portable equipment, and the process for assigning each installation a priority level to be used to identify its CBRN defense capability package, including whether certain critical facilities should be collectively protected.
Department of Defense To ensure that the problems in the overall installation protection and collective protection policies and programs do not continue to place military personnel and operations at increased risk and undercut the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD resource allocations and to help ensure clear and consistent guidance in the chemical and biological collective protection program, the Secretary of Defense--as part of the ongoing reorganization--should direct the Joint Staff and military services to review their current policies and, where appropriate, develop consistent requirements on when collective protection is required for medical units, and naval, ground, and air forces.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD has closed this recommendation citing the development of a capability development document for Joint Expeditionary Collective Protection, which includes service-specific annexes and current requirements and concepts of operations for collective protection. While this capability development document describes capability provided by the Joint Expeditionary Collective Protection systems, it does not address our recommendation to DOD to develop consistent requirements for when collective protection is required for specific types of units, such as medical units, and naval, ground, and air forces. We do not believe that DOD's action in this matter meets the intent of our recommendation.

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