Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Threats

It’s interesting to chart the evolution of the U.S. military defenses against unconventional weapons. Back in WWI and WWII, chemical and biological threats were lumped together as “chemical” threats. By the time of the cold war, nuclear weapons had been added to the mix, producing the memorable acronym NBC. In recent years, the threat of “dirty bombs” added a new letter to the mix, and CBRN threats got lumped together. Sometime in the last decade, apparently in the midst of post-9/11 hysteria over the threat of suicide bombers, package and letter bombs, car bombs, and similar perceived threats, another letter got added to the mix – CBRNE.

The abbreviation may have changed, but the threats – and the defenses against them – haven’t, at least not in any significant fashion. Compare, for example, the current training material on the topic (846KB PDF) with a 1980’s chemical defense textbook or even a more recent training course on NBC survival, and you’ll see that while the focus may have shifted away from the Soviet Union and her deadly toys, not much else has. Today’s training is rather more detailed than that of twenty years ago, but it still covers the same basic threats, and the same basic responses.

This is probably a good thing; the CBRNE threats that exist today are now, essentially, forty or more years old. Any new developments taking advantage of modern technological advances would probably be really, really ugly, and I don’t think anyone wants to live in the midst of an unconventional arms race…

Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on October 10th, 2007| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 10/17/2007 at 12:43 pm Connecting News, Commentaries and Blogs at - Said:

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