[EXCERPT] Cohen: Vigilant to World Threats

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
[24 Jan 1997]

WASHINGTON -- The spread of weapons of mass destruction presents the gravest threat the world has ever known, said William S. Cohen, the new defense secretary.

Cohen talked about the nation's military strategy and world threats during his Jan. 22 Senate confirmation hearings and in a Pentagon interview Jan. 23.

"Our strategy is to preserve and promote peace, prosperity and democracy by being militarily strong, by being forward deployed and by being diplomatically engaged," he said. The Cold War may be over, but the United States must remain vigilant and its armed forces prepared to counter newly emerging threats, he said.

Many countries are acquiring missile technology and developing chemical and biological weapons for theater-level and long-range use, Cohen said. Some Middle East nations have vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons, and bomb-building instructions are available on the Internet, he said.

"The threat is out there. It's real," he said. "It's not something that will come tomorrow; it's here today. We have to devise [not only] deterrent strategies, but [also] greater detection and protective measures against that kind of threat both here at home and for our troops who are forward deployed."

Second only to the high threat of weapons of mass destruction, he said, is the threat of terrorism. Rogue nations are acquiring an ability to infiltrate the United States, he added. Terrorists used a bomb with a chemical weapons capability in the attack at New York City's World Trade center, he said. "Had that chemical weapon then exploded and dispersed, it could have caused enormous damage in that city."