Military Takes “Proactive” Stance Against WMD Threats

09.15.11 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The U.S. military says it is taking a more assertive stance against the proliferation or use of weapons of mass destruction.

Newly updated tactical military doctrine “represents a major shift from the former, passive defense nature against nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons to a broader, active, and preventive approach toward a wider range of CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] threats and hazards,” according to a new manual (pdf) on CBRN Operations.

The new posture constitutes “a significant doctrinal shift from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ military capabilities.  These actions are being performed at the tactical level, perhaps, now more than ever,” the unclassified manual said.  See “Multi-Service Doctrine for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-11, July 2011.

The manual states that in accordance with international law, “The United States will never use chemical weapons.” Likewise, “The United States will never use biological weapons.”

However, “The United States may use nuclear weapons to terminate a conflict or war at the lowest acceptable level of hostilities.”  (That stark statement is not new, and appeared in prior doctrine published in 2003.)