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American BiodefenseHow Dangerous Ideas about Biological Weapons Shape National Security$
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Frank L. III Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452710

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452710.001.0001

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Fatal Assumptions

Fatal Assumptions

Military Doctrine

(p.71) [3] Fatal Assumptions
American Biodefense

Frank L. Smith

Cornell University Press

This chapter reveals how military doctrine has assumed that biological attacks are like chemical attacks and thus detectable in advance. The resulting stereotypes caused the military to likewise assume that biodefense could be achieved using the plans and procedures for contamination avoidance, physical protection, and decontamination that were previously prepared for chemical defense. This resulted to fatal gaps and errors in military planning and training. The military struggled to deploy biological weapon detection systems and use medical countermeasures. Doctrine dating back to the 1950s implied that vaccines were readily available, but the military did not consider how to actually use them until the Gulf War, when it failed to employ vaccines fast enough or in sufficient quantities.

Keywords:   military doctrine, biological attacks, chemical attacks, biological weapons, biodefense, chemical defense, Gulf War

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