Revised USAF Doctrine Publication: Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.8, Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations

By Costanzo, Charles E. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Revised USAF Doctrine Publication: Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.8, Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations


Costanzo, Charles E., Air & Space Power Journal


THE THREAT OR use of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons by hostile regimes and terrorists represents one of the most difficult challenges facing our nation and our Air Force." So observes Maj Gen Alien G. Peck, commander, Headquarters Air Force Doctrine Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in the foreword to Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-1.8, Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations, 26 January 2007.' This publication substantially revises and significantly improves its predecessor, published on 16 August 2000. The new doctrine document replaces the previous Air Force approach to counter-chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (C-CBRN) operations with a more robust methodology and provides Air Force-specific guidance for those operations.

Chapter 1 introduces the concept of Air Force pillars for C-CBRN operations as well as their relationship to joint mission areas, and chapters 2-6 elaborate upon those matters. These interlinked, operational-level pillars-proliferation prevention, counterforce, active defense, passive defense, and consequence management-are designed to support the overarching guidance provided in the National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, DC: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, [2006]); they also support the pillars identified in Joint Publication 3-40, Joint Doctrine for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction, 8 July 2004, and the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, DC: The White House, 2002). The earlier edition of AFDD 2-1.8 addressed proliferation prevention, counterforce, active defense, and passive defense as major components to counter hostile nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) operations. The revised and expanded document adds consequence management and treats all five areas as pillars supporting an overall strategy, thus bringing AFDD 2-1.8 into closer alignment with national strategy and joint doctrine. Moreover, the earlier version devoted only five pages to proliferation prevention, counterforce, active defense, and passive defense, while the latest covers the five pillars in 32 pages. Clearly, measures to prevent proliferation or actions taken to deter, deny, degrade, destroy, or defend against CBRN weapons are important, but the inclusion of consequence management in the revised AFDD gives an expeditionary air force critical understanding of how to manage and mitigate the consequences of an attack. …

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