Analysts: Military Unprepared for Homeland Attack

Thursday, 25 Dec 2008 05:11 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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A Department of Defense (DOD) think tank warns that the U.S. military cannot properly respond to significant attacks on the homeland — while so many critical assets are deployed overseas.

“Overseas deployment, simultaneously with responding to a significant scale of attacks on the homeland, will stress DOD capabilities,” advise the authors of the new report.

The group sounding the alarm is the distinguished and long-standing Defense Science Board, which has about 40 members. The membership advises the Pentagon on scientific, technical, manufacturing, acquisition process, and other matters of special interest to the DOD.

As possible threats to the nation increase and defense on all fronts becomes unlikely, the team of advisers looks to the use of improved intelligence to focus the limited assets of the overdrawn military on “the most likely cases.”

In order to pull this off, they recommend ramping up: foreign and domestic intelligence collection, analysis and support; countering foreign intelligence; net assessments and gaming; and improving intelligence related to the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

The report contained little good news, charging generally that the U.S. military is unprepared to put off a determined and inventive adversary. Furthermore, say report authors, the cost to retool and train to overcome the broadened range of threats facing the nation is beyond the Defense Department's reach.

And the situation will only become worse, warn the advisers, who conclude “the cost to deter or defeat future adversaries is rising” — both financially and otherwise.

In addition to military and civilian lives, the costs include encroachment on “civil liberties, daily comfort, economic health and global reputation . . .”

“Thus, instruments of national power, other than military, will assume greater importance,” the report says. “The nation is unprepared and is making little progress in reducing these costs.”

The report also concludes that, in a more proliferated world, the U.S. military must enhance the capabilities of the general-purpose forces to operate in an environment where weapons of mass destruction have been used.

In order to contend with that battered and toxic landscape, the expert team advises that the U.S. improve the military’s capabilities to deal with the irregular, catastrophic and disruptive — in addition to conventional combat skills.

The eventual goal: to be ready and able to sustain military operations through an attack on the homeland with nuclear weapons, biological agents, or cyber-warfare.

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