U.S. Unprepared for Biological Warfare

Article excerpt

Efforts by U.S. government agencies at federal, state, and local levels to address the threat of biological weapon attacks are hampered by the lack of available detection technology, says an industry expert.

The use of chemical agents by terrorists against U.S. cities would also be a tremendous challenge to the nation because there is a "response timeliness problem," says Gordon C. Oehler, corporate vice president for corporate development at Science Applications International Corporation, McLean, Virginia. He recently addressed a chemical-biological warfare conference in Washington, D.C. sponsored by Jane's Information Group.

Technology, said Oehler, can have a "major, if not a decisive role in any solution." Biological warfare also presents a medical conundrum.

Today, he explained, a city's population may not become aware that a terrorist attack has occurred for days-once many people start getting ill. "Precious time could still be lost trying to characterize the agent used, and the most effective treatment," Oehler said. …