Index

Chemical and Biological Defense: Observations on Actions Taken to Protect
Military Forces (Testimony, 10/20/1999, GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49).

Problems during the Gulf War revealed that U.S. troops were poorly
prepared for surviving and operating in a chemically or biologically
contaminated environment. During the 1990s, GAO issued a host of reports
and testimony on the ability of U.S. forces to survive and function on a
contaminated battlefield. This testimony summarizes the findings of
those reports and testimony and describes GAO's efforts to update the
status of the Defense Department's actions.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  T-NSIAD-00-49
     TITLE:  Chemical and Biological Defense: Observations on Actions
	     Taken to Protect Military Forces
      DATE:  10/20/1999
   SUBJECT:  Biological warfare
	     Chemical warfare
	     Military personnel
	     Immunization services
	     Defense capabilities
	     Strategic planning
	     Combat readiness
	     Military research and development
IDENTIFIER:  Persian Gulf War
	     DOD Anthrax Immunization Program
	     DOD-Customs Service Counterproliferation Program
	     DOD Chemical and Biological Defense Program

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Rev-LG logo.eps GAO United States General Accounting Office

Testimony Before the Subcommittees on Military Procurement and on
Military Research and Development, Committee on Armed Services,
House of Representatives

For Release on Delivery Expected at 10: 00 a. m., EDT Wednesday,
October 20, 1999

CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE

Observations on Actions Taken to Protect Military Forces

Statement of Norman J. Rabkin, Director, National Security
Preparedness Issues, National Security and International Affairs
Division

GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

  GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

Page 1 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

Messrs. Chairmen and Members of the Subcommittees: We are pleased
to be here today to discuss the Department of Defense's (DOD)
continuing efforts to protect U. S. military forces against
chemical and biological weapons. Problems experienced during the
Gulf War demonstrated that U. S. forces were inadequately prepared
for surviving

and operating in a chemically or biologically contaminated
environment. We have issued reports and provided testimonies
before Congress on DOD's efforts to resolve the problems
identified in 1991. This statement summarizes the message in those
reports and testimonies. It also describes some of our ongoing
efforts to update the status of DOD's actions.

Summary Between 1996 and 1999, GAO issued many reports and
testimonies dealing with various aspects of U. S. forces'
preparedness for surviving and

operating on a chemically or biologically contaminated
battlefield. (These reports and testimonies are listed in appendix
I.) In 1996, we reported that DOD was slow in responding to
lessons learned from the Gulf War. Problems encountered during
this conflict demonstrated that chemical and

biological defense equipment and training, and medical factors,
needed more emphasis during peacetime in order to meet the
demanding requirements of current U. S. strategy for the rapid
deployment of forces based in the United States to regional
conflicts overseas. We concluded that despite increased DOD
emphasis on chemical and biological defense, problems with
equipment, training, medical care, and other areas persist and are
likely to result in needless casualties and a degradation of U. S.
warfighting

capability. In 1997 and 1998, we issued reports and testimonies
addressing more specific chemical and biological defense topics
such as the protection of critical rear- area facilities, defenses
against biological agents, and concerns specific to the Northeast
Asian theater. These efforts reported that many doctrinal and
planning aspects of chemical and biological defense remained
largely unaddressed and that biological agent vaccines were
insufficient to protect the force. In 1998 and 1999, our work
expanded to address topics such as DOD's coordination of chemical
and biological research and development programs, its strategy for
low- level exposures, and implementation of DOD's anthrax vaccine
program. We

reported that existing chemical and biological defense program
coordinating mechanisms may not ensure that program gaps and
opportunities for collaboration would be addressed, and that the
program had not incorporated key Results Act's principles. We also
reported that DOD's anthrax vaccine program was being affected by
the sole- source

manufacturer's cash flow problems and the lack of studies on the
safety

Page 2 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

and human efficacy of the vaccine. Another anthrax- related
product will be completed later this month addressing the issues
faced by DOD regarding the regimen, production capability, record
keeping, adverse reactions, and educational efforts affecting
DOD's anthrax vaccine program. We are

currently conducting additional reviews addressing the status of
improvements in chemical and biological defense doctrine and unit
and logistical readiness, the capacity of the chemical and
biological defense industrial base, and the status of the Defense
Counterproliferation Initiative.

Background DOD has determined that the threat or use of nuclear,
biological, or chemical weapons is a likely condition of future
warfare and could occur in the early stages of war to disrupt U.
S. operations and logistics. Potential

adversaries, especially in the Middle East and Northeast Asia,
have chemical and biological weapons stocks and the means to
deliver them. These weapons are particularly attractive to
adversaries seeking to counter U. S. conventional military
superiority through less expensive and more

attainable means. U. S. forces therefore need to be properly
trained and equipped to operate in a chemically or biologically
contaminated environment. When the threat of chemical and
biological weapons use occurred during the Gulf War, deploying U.
S. forces encountered a wide array of problems, including
unsuitable and inadequate supplies of protective equipment,
inadequate training in its use, unsuitable chemical

and biological detectors, and an ineffective program for utilizing
existing biological warfare vaccines.

1996 Assessment of Progress Since the Gulf War

Our first major report, issued in 1996 to the Readiness
Subcommittee, discussed the overall capability of U. S. forces to
fight and survive chemical and biological warfare, and is the
centerpiece for much of the work we have performed since. 1 We
reported that DOD was slow in responding to the lessons learned
during the Gulf War. Although some improvements had been made, we
found that

 early deploying units lacked required equipment,  research and
development progress was slower than planned,

1 Chemical and Biological Defense: Emphasis Remains Insufficient
to Resolve Continuing Problems (GAO/NSIAD-96-103, Mar. 29, 1996).

Page 3 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

 Army and Marine forces remained inadequately trained for
effective chemical and biological defense,  joint exercises
included little chemical or biological defense training,
biological agent vaccine stocks and immunization plans remained
inadequate, and

 Army medical units often lacked chemical and biological defense
equipment and training.

We concluded that equipment, training, and medical problems
persisted and were likely to result in needless casualties and a
degradation of U. S. war- fighting capability. We noted that
despite DOD's increased emphasis on chemical and biological
defense, it continued to receive a lower level of emphasis at all
levels of command than other tasks, such as performing traditional
mission tasks. Many field commanders had accepted a level of
chemical and biological defense unpreparedness and told us that
the resources devoted to that area were appropriate, given other
threats and budgetary constraints.

Progress in Defense Against Biological Agents

In April 1997 we issued a classified report to the Chairmen and
Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees
in response to a directive in the National Defense Authorization
Act of Fiscal Year 1997. The report dealt with DOD's progress in
implementing its policy to immunize its forces against biological
threat agents, its policies and procedures regarding the use of
investigational drug biological agent vaccines, and its use of
investigational drugs for other prevention and

treatment purposes. Our report concluded that DOD's actions at the
time were not sufficient to protect the force from existing
biological warfare threats.

DOD's Efforts to Protect Critical RearArea Facilities

In June 1997 we issued another classified report to Chairman Floyd
Spence. We addressed the nature of the threat of chemical and
biological warfare, the adequacy of U. S. military joint chemical
and biological defense doctrine, and the preparations and plans
for the chemical and biological defense of critical overseas rear-
area facilities like ports and airfields. Although these
facilities are critical to the ability of U. S. forces to deploy
to an overseas conflict, we found that chemical and biological
defense doctrine, plans, equipment, and training at these
facilities were largely

unaddressed. The report included findings and observations at
specific critical military installations in South Korea and
Southwest Asia.

Page 4 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

Chemical and Biological Defenses in South Korea

In 1998 we issued another classified report to Congressman Duncan
Hunter on the capability of the combined U. S South Korean force
to defend against North Korean artillery and chemical and
biological warfare. In this report we noted a number of
improvements in artillery counterfire and chemical and biological
defense in South Korea and identified areas of continuing risk
specific to this theater.

DOD's Strategy for Protecting Forces Against Low- Level Exposures

In September 1998 we issued a report to the Ranking Members of the
Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and
Governmental Affairs on DOD's approach to addressing U. S. troop
exposures to low levels of chemical warfare agents. 2 Low- level
exposure is a concern because it may potentially cause or
contribute to health problems that may not become evident for
years after exposure. Specifically, we reported the following:

 Past research by DOD and others indicated that single and
repeated lowlevel exposures to some chemical warfare agents could
result in adverse psychological, physiological, behavioral, and
performance effects that

may have military implications. We also highlighted limitations of
the current research.  DOD had allocated nearly $10 million (about
1. 5 percent) of its chemical and biological defense research,
development, testing, and evaluation

program to fund projects on low- level chemical warfare agent
exposures.  DOD did not have an integrated strategy to address
exposure to low

levels of chemical warfare agents. DOD's Coordination of Research
and Development Programs

Earlier this year we issued a report to the Ranking Members of the
Senate Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services on the
coordination of federal research and development efforts to
develop nonmedical 2 Chemical Weapons: DOD Does Not Have a
Strategy to Address Low- Level Exposures (GAO/NSIAD-98-228, Sept.
23, 1998).

Page 5 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

technology related to chemical and biological defense. 3 We
identified four programs engaged in activities ranging from
applied research to prototype development: two of these programs
developed technologies primarily for military war- fighting
applications and two others developed technologies primarily to
assist civilians responding to terrorist incidents. We concluded
that the formal and informal program coordination mechanisms may
not ensure that potential overlaps, gaps, and opportunities for
collaboration would be addressed. We pointed out that agency
officials were aware of the

deficiencies in the existing coordination mechanisms and that some
had initiated additional informal contacts.

DOD's Application of the Results Act

In August of this year we reported on the extent to which DOD has
applied the Government Performance and Results Act's outcome-
oriented principles to its Chemical and Biological Defense
Program. 4 We concluded that the program in general, and its
research and development activities in particular, had not
incorporated key Results Act principles, as evidenced by the fact
that the goals of the program were vague and unmeasurable and did
not articulate specific desired impacts. We also pointed out that
the program was not being evaluated according to its impact on the
defensive

or operational capabilities of U. S. forces, either individually
or collectively. DOD's Anthrax Vaccine Program

As part of our work on chemical and biological defense, we have
testified four times this year before the House Government Reform
Committee. The first testimony dealt with the safety and efficacy
of the anthrax vaccine. 5 We noted the lack of studies on long-
term safety, the lack of studies on human efficacy testing against
inhaled anthrax, and the limited studies of short- term reactions
to the vaccine.

3 Chemical and Biological Defense: Coordination of Nonmedical
Chemical and Biological R& D Programs (GAO/NSIAD-99-160, Aug. 16,
1999). 4 Chemical and Biological Defense: Program Planning and
Evaluation Should Follow Results Act Framework (GAO/NSIAD-99-159,
Aug. 16, 1999). 5 Medical Readiness: Safety and Efficacy of the
Anthrax Vaccine (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-148, Apr. 29, 1999).

Page 6 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

In our second testimony, we reported on DOD's financial
relationship with the sole- source manufacturer of the anthrax
vaccine. 6 We observed that the company faced serious cash flow
problems due to its inability to achieve an overly optimistic
business plan. A recent renegotiation of the contract has
mitigated some of these concerns. In the third testimony, we
reported that DOD's data on adverse reactions to the vaccinations
indicated that female servicemembers reported such events in
greater numbers than male servicemembers and that no clinical
studies had been done to determine the optimum number of doses of
the

vaccine. 7 We also noted that DOD had conducted some research on a
second- generation anthrax vaccine but considered such research an
unfunded priority and that the Department of Health and Human
Services recently funded several research grants to develop a
second- generation vaccine.

Earlier this week, we testified again about the studies conducted
to determine the need for a 6- injection regimen, the long- and
short- term safety of the vaccine, and the vaccine's
effectiveness. In addition, we addressed whether problems the Food
and Drug Administration found in the vaccine production facility
in Michigan might compromise the safety, efficacy, and quality of
the vaccine. 8

We are also currently working on a report to the Chairman and
Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on
some of the programmatic issues DOD faces in implementing its
anthrax vaccine immunization effort. This report, which we expect
to complete later this month, will cover DOD's

 ability to maintain an adequate supply of anthrax vaccine for its
immunization schedule,

6 Contract Management: Observations on DOD's Financial
Relationship With the Anthrax Vaccine Manufacturer (GAO/T-NSIAD-
99-214, June 30, 1999). 7 Medical Readiness: Issues Concerning the
Anthrax Vaccine (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-226, July 21, 1999). 8 Anthrax
Vaccine: Safety and Efficacy Issues (GAO/T-NSIAD-00-48, Oct. 12,
1999).

Page 7 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

 system for recording and tracking servicemembers' vaccinations,
efforts to monitor possible adverse reactions to anthrax
vaccinations,

and  steps to educate servicemembers about the program. Ongoing
GAO Evaluations

We currently have several evaluations underway that will enable us
to comment further on DOD's efforts to protect military forces
against chemical and biological weapons. In response to a request
from the Readiness Subcommittee, we are reviewing several aspects
of DOD's chemical and biological defense program. These include
the status of improvements to joint doctrine and

policy, the chemical and biological defense readiness of U. S.
units and of critical logistics and command facilities in South
Korea and the Persian Gulf (as well as units based in the United
States but designated for early deployment to these areas), and
the ability of medical units and logistics systems to support
operations in a chemical or biological warfare

environment. In response to a request from the Chairman of the
Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and the
Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we are
examining the capacity and willingness of the chemical and
biological defense industrial base to meet DOD's planned
development and production requirements.

In response to a recent request from the full House Armed Services
Committee, we are reviewing the status of the Defense
Counterproliferation Initiative, launched by DOD in December 1993.
Our work covers  DOD's organizational structure for the
initiative, including its

management and oversight of the counterproliferation mission;  the
integration of the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical
weapons against U. S. and allied forces into DOD's planning,
acquisition,

intelligence, doctrine, training, and exercises;  DOD's success in
integrating and coordinating counterproliferation

initiatives with other federal agencies, particularly with the
Department of Energy and the intelligence community; and
improvements in offensive and defensive capabilities under the

counterproliferation initiative, and remaining shortfalls.

Page 8 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

We expect to issue reports on all these evaluations sometime next
year. This concludes my formal statement. If you or other members
of the subcommittees have any questions we will be pleased to
answer them.

Contacts and Acknowledgments For future contacts regarding this
testimony, please contact Norman Rabkin at (202) 512- 3610.
Individuals making key contributions to this

testimony included Raymond Decker, Joseph Murray, and William
Cawood.

Page 9 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

Page 10 GAO/T-NSIAD-00-49

Appendix I GAO Chemical and Biological Defense Products Appendi x
I 1996- 99

Chemical and Biological Defense: Emphasis Remains Insufficient to
Resolve Continuing Problems (GAO/NSIAD-96-103, Mar. 29, 1996).
Also by the same title in testimony before the House Committee on
National Security, Subcommittee on Military Research and
Development (GAO/T-NSIAD-96-123, Mar. 12, 1996) and before the
Presidential Advisory

Committee on Gulf War Veteran's Illnesses ( GAO/T-NSIAD-96-123,
May 1, 1996).

Chemical and Biological Defense: Observations on DOD's Plans to
Protect U. S. Forces (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-83, Mar. 17, 1998).

Chemical Weapons: DOD Does Not Have a Strategy to Address Low-
Level Exposures (GAO/NSIAD-98-228, Sept. 23, 1998).

Medical Readiness: Safety and Efficacy of the Anthrax Vaccine
(GAO/T-NSIAD-99-148, Apr. 29, 1999). Chemical and Biological
Defense: Coordination of Nonmedical Chemical and Biological R& D
Programs (GAO/NSIAD-99-160, Aug. 16, 1999).

Chemical and Biological Defense: Program Planning and Evaluation
Should Follow Results Act Framework (GAO/NSIAD-99-159, Aug. 16,
1999).

Contract Management: Observations on DOD's Financial Relationship
With the Anthrax Vaccine Manufacturer (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-214, June
30, 1999).

Medical Readiness: Issues Concerning the Anthrax Vaccine (GAO/T-
NSIAD-99-226, July 21, 1999). Anthrax Vaccine: Safety and Efficacy
Issues (GAO/T-NSIAD-00-48, Oct. 12, 1999).

Note: Classified reports are not shown.

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