Trainings, Modeling & Simulation, Exercises, and International Cooperation are Critical Elements for CBRN/CWMD Futures

By BG (Ret.) William King, Former Commander, 20th CBRNE Command, U.S. Army, USA

During the next five years, we will face complex challenges, including coordinating and sharing information across multiple agencies and amongst Allies against the backdrop of evolving threats, all while continuing to integrate existing organizations into a cohesive CWMD team. The disparities between current operational capabilities and capacities and the recently released National Security and Defense Strategies argue for a new management approach to dealing with the threats and challenges of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD). If nothing else, COVID has taught us that we must be better prepared which includes planning, preparations, coordinated communications, and synchronized efforts across the whole of government.

The CWMD mission must deter attacks from those possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), prevent acquisition by those seeking WMD, and respond to a WMD attack whether chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high yield explosives. Since no one nation or governmental department, agency, or partner has all the capability, authorities, information, or capacity to execute this mission on their own, a support construct that enhances and enables situational awareness, knowledge management, synchronization, coordination, communication, and integration across Allies and within National Structures has immense potential to reduce the disparities and improve overall effectiveness.

Improving planning and preparation through sophisticated artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and tailored decision support tools would greatly benefit organizations that have responsibility for coordinating and synchronizing the CWMD mission, the policy and acquisition offices responsible for resourcing the CWMD mission, as well as offices at Departments and agencies with executing the CWMD mission.

Synchronized interagency strategies, plans, and associated implementation would facilitate development of integrated operational capabilities, capacities, and clear situational communication to the National Command Authorities.

In my opinion (validated by the COVID 19 Response), significant active and sustained coordination is critically required across the full Government, to effectively and efficiently address and support the complexity of the CWMD mission while mitigating the impact of real world WMD events. This coordination should scale across all departments and agencies with CWMD responsibilities, improve readiness, reduce duplication of efforts, build situational awareness and knowledge, and solidify authorities.

An unpredictable future with technologically advanced adversaries has created a more complex global environment unlike any before. As we face unprecedented challenges, preparedness must continue to reduce threats, ensure readiness, and build resiliency. Addressing global threats requires a continual flow of information, yet military, intelligence, and organizations operate with differing authorities and protocols. This siloed approach makes intelligence-sharing, true situational awareness, and knowledge management more challenging. Moreover, warfighters and first responders must have consistent adaptive training coupled with advances in our gained knowledge and awareness to prepare for new dangers ahead.

A comprehensive support program to integrate all stakeholders into a shared working environment would require a provision to include comprehensive and adaptive training and exercise solutions for the military, Special Operations, intelligence community, and stakeholders across the US Government. Exercise support is a critical element for assessing current states of readiness, providing gap analysis to a baseline, and identifying critical areas for development. This support runs the gamut from traditional exercises to lifelike computer simulations, as well as real world experiences and could be delivered via a combination of venues like Table Top Exercises (TTXs), Computer based Modeling and Simulation, Virtual/Augmented Reality (AR/VR), Exercise Planning and Design, and Multi element multimedia scenarios conducted across geographies, agencies, and stakeholders. None of these by themselves are the magic button solution but collectively they can improve readiness and resiliency across our nation and its allies and partners.

BG(R) William King has served in a wide variety of command, leadership, and staff positions across numerous levels of the U.S. Army, Joint Task Forces, Regional Commands, and most recently as the Commanding General 20th CBRNE Command before retiring on 19 July 2017 with 30+ years of active duty US Army service. He joined Booz Allen Hamilton in 2017 as an Executive Advisor for the Joint Combatant Commands (JCC) Account and on 12 Oct 2018 was designated as an Industry CWMD Senior Fellow. Today he is a Principal/Director and is responsible for developing the market for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, assessing synchronization and integration, advising senior government clients, and serves as the Booz Allen market lead on challenges/opportunities, and providing strategic thinking for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) policies, modernization, capability and capacity development. BG(R) King’s expertise, honed through a series of multi-echelon capability and leadership positions, has prepared him to tackle the nation’s most complex CWMD challenges. He is a known luminary and clear leader in the field. He is widely recognized for his breadth of knowledge, experience, and depth of understanding of CWMD challenges. He is skilled at addressing complex problems, is intellectually agile, and is a recognized leader who inspires others and builds teams with ease.