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Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats (2004)

Chapter: 4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations

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Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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4
Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations

INTRODUCTION

As noted in Chapter 2, Box 2.1, all research, development, and acquisition for chemical and biological defense is carried out through a legislatively mandated Joint Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) Program and is organized around two principal areas—(1) Non-Medical Science and Technology and (2) Medical Defense. Although the committee was tasked to make R&D projections in specific time frames—to 2005 (near term), to 2010 (mid-term), and to 2015 (far term)—it found this practically impossible for two reasons:

  1. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the significantly increased investment by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in medical countermeasures and vaccines are leading to increased activities in these areas, which should in turn impact the Joint CBD Program. The committee believes, however, that its recommendations remain applicable. The Department of the Navy should follow closely and leverage any such future activities to accelerate developments appropriately in the Joint CBD Program.

  2. The Joint CBD Program has been undergoing substantial reorganization and reassignment of responsibilities that should affect current near-, mid-, and far-term plans. The Navy is urged to engage more actively with the program to influence those changes.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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However, the committee does offer observations on activities in the context of the near, mid-, and far term based on the technical or development difficulties associated with a particular area.

The Non-Medical Science and Technology part of the Joint CBD Program is organized in five “commodity” areas: contamination avoidance, individual protection, collective protection, decontamination, and modeling and simulation.1 The wide range of activities in each of these commodity areas is indicated in Figure 4.1; the commodity areas are further described later in this chapter and in Appendix C.

The committee attempted to gain as complete a view as possible in order to understand how well the activities of the Non-Medical Science and Technology Program are meeting the needs of the Navy—and how well the Navy is engaging the Joint CBD Program to ensure that its interests are being addressed. In the committee’s opinion, most of the issues identified in addressing these broad questions arise from a shift in the threat landscape—from an at-sea military adversary of Cold War scenarios to an adversary willing to use asymmetric techniques aimed at both military and civilian targets. It is also the committee’s belief that the Joint CBD Program and most of the Navy have not adjusted to that shift. The most important observations and recommendations relevant to nonmedical science and technology (S&T) and the implications for acquiring improved capabilities are summarized below and elaborated in the following sections.

  • Non-Medical Science and Technology Program. Two aspects of the Joint CBD Program appear not to serve naval needs well and can be ameliorated with appropriate attention by the Navy:

  1. The Non-Medical Science and Technology Program has been and remains dominated by a philosophy of “contamination avoidance,” a laudable goal indeed, but one that the committee believes is unrealistic as the driving force, considering the broad range of possible asymmetric attacks (as discussed in Chapters 1 and 3). Such a philosophy requires detection to facilitate avoidance and the identification of a threat agent as early as possible, which in turn drives investments heavily toward sensor systems for both standoff and point detection to provide rapid early warning. The committee recommends that the Navy champion a fundamental change in philosophy in the Joint CBD Program—one that moves toward a risk management approach which assumes that contamination will happen and focuses on managing the response. Such a shift should result in a

1  

Joint Science and Technology Panel for Chemical and Biological Defense. 2002. DOD Chemical and Biological Defense Program, Non-Medical Science and Technology Program, draft version 2002.01.05, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Biological and Chemical Defense Programs, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

FIGURE 4.1 Taxonomy of the Joint CBD Program’s Non-Medical Science and Technology Program.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

more balanced investment portfolio, to also include detection capabilities to support decontamination and diagnostics characterization of agent fate on exposed surfaces; protective equipment in consonance with tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that better facilitate operating through an exposure; and rapid and “friendly” decontamination techniques and procedures.

  1. A second observation is that the requirements and acquisition processes of the entire Joint CBD Program, as described in Box 2.1 in Chapter 2, have pushed acquisition schedules out far too long into the future for providing capabilities that could significantly improve the current operational posture. Those processes are undergoing revision, with reassignment of responsibilities within the Joint CBD Program and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The committee recommends that the Navy seize the opportunity to ensure that processes are truly revamped to accelerate the introduction of improvements into the fleet.

  • Navy participation. Achieving the changes in the Joint CBD Program recommended in point 1 above would be challenging enough if the Navy were fully engaged in the joint process. But in fact the Navy has been the least aggressive of the Services in its participation. Personnel from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Commander, Fleet Forces Command (CFFC), assigned to represent naval interests are well informed and committed to their assignments; however, they do not have sufficient support from senior Navy leadership and commands to analyze joint requirements in the naval context and, if need be, to influence the program for it to address Navy-unique needs. It was not clear to the committee how serious an issue this might be. Lacking a robust, independent assessment of its own, the Navy is captive to equipment and accompanying operational procedures derived largely from the most stressing requirements of environments expected for ground forces in combat, based on conditions at or near the point of agent release.

    The recommendation in Chapter 3 (in the subsection “Operational Recommendation: Roles for NWDC and MCCDC”) to assign the Navy Warfare Development Command responsibility for developing and promulgating a carefully analyzed and gamed concept of operations would go a long way toward addressing this issue. Here the knowledgeable personnel at NWDC could also provide to naval personnel involved in the Joint CBD Program sorely needed support and expertise for ensuring that naval needs are met. In carrying out this recommendation, the Navy should make good use of Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) personnel who have well-established reputations in the chemical and biological S&T community.

  • Testing and evaluation. The maritime environment introduces unique factors that should be explicitly considered before accepting equipment from the Joint CBD Program and developing procedures for its use. The Navy’s research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) community is limited in its capa-

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

bilities to make such assessments. The committee recommends that a more serious and comprehensive program in testing and evaluation be undertaken by the Navy, to include both modeling and simulation and realistic test environments for chemical and biological warfare defense. The committee, in fact, recommends that the Navy consider dedicating a ship to chemical and biological simulant testing in a fashion analogous to the use of the ex-LSD Shadwell for fire research.

In addition to discussing each of the points above in more detail, in this chapter the committee provides an assessment of each of the commodity areas on the basis of presentations (see the section entitled “Committee Meetings” in the preface of the report), discussions, and material received. The chapter emphasizes naval-specific issues and defers to Appendix C descriptions of specific technologies and key demonstration programs. More comprehensive overviews and details of specific systems and detection requirements are available from other sources.2

THE NON-MEDICAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM

Non-Medical S&T Finding: Contamination Avoidance—A Limiting Philosophy Against Asymmetric Threats

In order to evaluate the utility to naval forces of non-medical science and technology that is current, in development, and proposed, the committee assessed naval issues from the five operational perspectives described in Chapter 3: (1) ships at sea, (2) ships in the littorals, (3) shore installations and bases, (4) commercial ports, and (5) logistics. Naval operations in these five environments can require different types of support and therefore lead to different priorities for science and technology, but a few general points can be extracted. As shown in Figure 4.2, the earlier a chemical or biological threat can be detected, the less complex the response required—if not to avoid contamination altogether, then to minimize the consequences and therefore the responses to an attack.

This importance of early detection has promoted the focus of non-medical S&T on threat discovery and environmental detection—that is, on avoiding contamination altogether so as not to be faced with subsequent situations and with actions needed farther along the time line. Avoiding contamination eliminates or reduces the need for (1) decontamination, (2) utilization of protective equipment (and the associated loss of performance), and (3) medical response, both short

2  

For example: Institute of Medicine and Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, National Research Council. 1999. Chemical and Biological Terrorism: Research and Development to Improve Civilian Medical Response, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 239-240.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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FIGURE 4.2 A generic time line helpful in evaluating the utility of non-medical science and technology in response to chemical and biological threats. SOURCE: Adapted from “CB Defense Program Taxonomy (slide 16),” of the “DOD Chemical and Biological Defense Program Overview” presentation to the committee on September 18, 2001, by Anna Johnson-Winegar, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical/Biological Defense.

and long term.3 The cornerstone of contamination avoidance is the detection and identification of a threat agent as early as possible. If complete avoidance is not possible, detection and identification can be used to minimize the impact of contamination.

This emphasis on contamination avoidance has led to non-medical S&T’s principal investment (for decades even before it was joint program) in sensors and sensor systems, at levels as high as about 70 percent of the total. The committee believes that this approach is highly limiting, however, because any sensor shield for warning will have gaps, and trade-offs should be made between better warning and better response. Echoing a theme that runs throughout this report, the committee finds that a much more prudent approach would be based on risk management and early consideration in the operational assessments and in the S&T program of how to integrate both warning and response into the conduct of operations. These considerations will be critical to continuous or rapid return to military operations by forces under chemical or biological weapons attack.

The committee’s assessment derives from the fact that the risk from asymmetric, or at least unconventional, attacks has increased. A determined adversary with even a small quantity of chemical or biological agent and a well-executed attack plan could produce significant consequences if supply chains, civilian support operations, and/or deployment schedules were disrupted. For example, the contamination of a ship in a foreign port raises the question as to how a captain should best utilize the non-medical science and technology at his disposal in response to an attack in which no sensor system allowed the avoidance of exposure. The extension of that question for the Non-Medical Science and Tech-

3  

If an adversary’s intent can be determined early enough, contamination avoidance also includes the destruction of capability before an agent is actually used. This is the agent-defeat program in DOD’s “active defense” element for countering weapons of mass destruction. It is not discussed here because the committee’s focus, as directed by the terms of reference, was on the “passive defense” element.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

nology Program is this: What are the next-generation systems that would add the most value in the current and emerging asymmetric threat environment?

Civilian approaches to managing similar situations may offer insight. Managing the problems created by industrial accidents, train derailments, toxic gas leaks, infectious and communicable disease outbreaks, and intentional contamination of victims has become nearly routine for civilian local responders and health agencies. These events are managed using the same systematic planning, training, communications, logistics support, command and control, task analysis, and expertise that the military uses in warfare planning and exercises.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the civilian approach is that of grading the response to meet the objectives of reducing the spread of contamination, impact, casualties, and property damage. Understanding the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the suspected agents is a critical science and technology issue. Moreover, a great deal of uncertainty exists in the early stages of a civilian event. Deployment of monitors may or may not be possible, and, if deployed, they may not have the capability to characterize the causative agents or assess agent dispersion. In all cases there is need for scientific knowledge about the possible agents, health risks from exposure, and interaction with materials and the environment. This scientific understanding significantly affects the actions to be taken, including the definition of a perimeter, the levels of protection provided for response personnel, the decontamination measures used, and the treatment of casualties. This close coupling of operational considerations with S&T capabilities should guide the priorities for investment in S&T and training.

Non-Medical S&T Finding: An Opportunity for Change

The Joint CBD Program’s committee processes—both for setting requirements and for prioritizing research, development, and acquisition (RDA) efforts—have come under scrutiny and criticism by a number of advisory panels in the past few years.4 Two factors contribute to the problem: (1) The “one Service, one vote” approach of the proceedings tends to result in a roll-up of requirements that attempts to meet “the envelope,” or combined worst-case scenario, for all Services’ needs. This objective of meeting the worst-case scenario can produce a difficult challenge and commensurate long lead times for the development of techniques and can lead to systems entering acquisition well behind the state of the art. (2) In addition, the dominance of contamination avoidance as the guiding principle for the program has resulted in requirements that are rarely informed by systems analysis and trade-offs between response time and sensitivity of instruments. Comprehensive end-to-end solutions that address all of the response ele-

4  

For example: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. 2001. Report of the Defense Science Board/Threat Reduction Advisory Committee Task Force on Biological Defense, Washington, D.C., June.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

ments shown in Figure 4.2 in a balanced way have not been a part of the program. The lack of such solutions introduces considerable risk in any number of scenarios typical of asymmetric threats, in which contamination avoidance would never even be possible.

The under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics (USD(AT&L)) recently responded to the criticisms referred to above by requesting a revamping of the program’s requirements and RDA processes. To date, that request has resulted in the elimination of the Joint Service Integration Group for requirements setting—it has been replaced with a single accountable individual at the one-star level in the Office of the Joint Staff/Director for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment for setting joint requirements—an arrangement more in keeping with other joint requirements processes. In addition, the executive agent lead held by the Army for RDA has been largely dismantled. More recently, while the Office of the Secretary of Defense will continue to provide managerial oversight, the Joint CBD Program has been reorganized in three major parts: specifically, (1) a newly named joint program executive officer will be responsible for the acquisition of systems, including product development; (2) the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) will be responsible for the S&T base; and (3) the Joint Staff’s Joint Requirements Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense will be responsible defining requirements to meet operational needs.5

Non-Medical S&T Recommendation: Promulgating a Risk Management Approach

The Navy, and with it the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program, should shift from a philosophy dominated by contamination avoidance toward an approach based on risk management which assumes that contamination will happen and focuses on managing the response. The foundation for a risk management approach should come from the doctrine development efforts at the Navy Warfare Development Command (as recommended in Chapter 3 of this report) and from the results of the operational net assessments in each area of responsibility (as recommended in Chapter 3).

Minimizing or avoiding contamination should certainly be part of the strategy, but it may not be pragmatic, or even feasible, to do so in an era of wideranging possible asymmetric threats. Broadening the focus to include decontamination and resumption of operations will drive much of the science and technology in the same direction toward which it is already headed, but with the benefit of

5  

Defense News. “Defense Program Implementation Plan Approved.” April 24, 2003. Available onlne at <http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/b04242003_bt270-03.html>.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

providing a different perspective for trading off parameters such as response time and sensitivity of instruments. Most importantly, and as demonstrated in civilian applications, many of the needed technologies for protection and decontamination exist to support this strategy.

The Navy has an opportunity to lead such a shift in the Joint CBD Program with the recent organizational changes for requirements and RDA. Such a shift will require, however, the commitment of knowledgeable personnel to the new Office of the Joint Staff/J8, program executive office, and DTRA, as well as the support of Navy in-house expertise.

NAVY INVOLVEMENT

Non-Medical S&T Finding: Limited Navy Participation in the Joint CBD Program

It appears to the committee that in the years before the Joint CBD Program was established, naval investments in chemical and biological defense S&T at the NRL had led to substantial progress, and that the work had coupled into a commitment in the operational Navy for improving its posture at sea. One of the best examples of that commitment was the move to collective protection systems as a requirement on new destroyers, as a result of recommendations made by one of this study’s committee members in the early 1980s.6 Since the advent of the Joint CBD Program, however, it has been difficult for NRL to sustain continuity and cohesion of effort, given the “decision by committee” process of the program and the tendency toward proposal-by-proposal awards instead of the creation and sustainment of centers of excellence.

As part of the Joint CBD Program, the Navy is to be commended for taking the lead in modeling and simulation and for the Artemis standoff detection system. The Marine Corps is to be acknowledged for leadership of the Joint Warning and Reporting Network (JWARN). But these efforts represent a sharing of the load for program management among the Services and have not led to maintaining a critical mass of S&T and operational personnel to guide priorities for naval forces in the Joint CBD Program. In short, the committee developed the impression that with the creation of the Joint CBD Program, the Navy “threw it over the fence” to that program or, in effect, took the position of letting the Joint CBD Program take care of its chemical and biological defense needs. Based on the information presented to the committee, the initial percentage of funds transferred from the Navy to the Joint CBD Program has never matched the return to the Navy for program elements that it leads or directs or for the equipping of

6  

Lederberg, Joshua. 1982. Memorandum for ADM James D. Watkins, USN, re: Report of the Chemical Warfare Task Force of the CNO Executive Panel (U), Chemical Warfare Task Force, CNO Executive Panel, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. (classified).

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

naval forces. In addition, non-Service aligned participants in the Joint CBD Program view the Navy as the least aggressive participant. The committee also interviewed highly committed and knowledgeable personnel at NAVSEA, ONR, and CFFC who participate in the joint process; to a person they admitted that chemical and biological defense appears close to the bottom of the list of concerns for senior Navy leadership, and the committee heard as much from CFFC and warfare integration (N70) leadership directly. While this may not be the intent of senior leadership, it is the message being conveyed.

Without a more in-depth assessment and analysis of the adequacy of the Joint CBD Program’s products for meeting Navy needs, the committee cannot judge how serious an issue the relative lack of Navy participation in the program is. What is clear is that the Navy has no basis for judging how well the requirements and priorities of the Joint CBD Program address its needs—indeed, how well the Navy understands those naval-unique needs at all.

Non-Medical S&T Recommendation: Reaffirming the Role for NWDC

The Navy should recognize and strengthen the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) in its role of developingthrough analysis, experimentation, and testing—and promulgating a concept of operations and the supporting policies for describing how naval forces will execute their warfighting and force protection missions in an environment that has been or may be contaminated with chemical or biological agents. In this role, NWDC should also provide consultation to Navy participants in the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program.

The corresponding recommendation from Chapter 3 (see the subsection “Operational Recommendation: Roles for NWDC and MCCDC”) regarding NWDC responsibility for developing and promulgating a concept of operations (CONOPS) would go a long way toward addressing the issue of the Navy’s participation in the Joint CBD Program. In undertaking the important elements of analysis, experimentation, and testing that would lead to well-formulated CONOPS, NWDC would develop the cadre of expertise needed to support Navy participation in the Joint CBD Program as a “smart buyer.” In carrying out this recommendation, NWDC should make use of NRL personnel who have wellestablished reputations in the chemical and biological S&T community, and of members of the analytical community who have provided direct support to fleet commanders.

The committee notes that the Marine Corps has been much more aggressive in its engagement of the Joint CBD Program and has put appropriate pressure, when needed, on the program to have critical operational needs addressed. However, the Marine Corps also lacks a strong analytical base through which requirements can be assessed.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

NON-MEDICAL TESTING AND EVALUATION

Non-Medical S&T Finding: Lack of Realistic Testing and Evaluation for Accepting Chemical and Biological Defense Equipment

The committee believes that deploying to the fleet or fleet Marine force (FMF) equipment that is either operationally ineffective or unsuitable for the operational purpose for which it is intended can have a detrimental effect on unit readiness.

The committee believes that only realistic testing will ensure that the fleet and fleet Marine force receive equipment which is consistent with operational needs and environments, and that some systems now in development or being readied for procurement may confront operational effectiveness challenges similar to those cited above. For example, the technological approaches underlying the next generation of biological detection systems address only a narrow range of the potential threat spectrum, because the underlying biochemistry will identify a particular bacterial genus but not a specific threat species. In addition, agent dispersion and aggregation phenomena particular to a marine environment are not understood. The only way to ensure that the fleet receives the equipment it needs, together with the requisite operational training and maintenance support, is for the system in question to undergo thorough operational testing by fleet sailors in the operational environment in which the system is intended to be employed.

The preceding, of course, merely restates long-standing DOD policy on the testing and evaluation (T&E) of new acquisitions. The problem in this case is twofold: (1) the T&E policy is not consistently applied, and (2) operational testing of potential fleet systems in environments contaminated by chemical or biological agents is very difficult to achieve.

A common example of a system development path that bypasses the normal T&E requirements is the advanced concept technology demonstrations (ACTDs). The advent of ACTDs has served to speed potential solutions and new capabilities to the operating forces; but in the process, the operational forces frequently are paying the price of receiving equipment that may not have been adequately tested through normal developmental and operational testing practices. Equipment and capabilities demonstrated in an ACTD may have inadequate supply support, operators may have received little or no documentation or training on the equipment, and these warfighters may have limited knowledge of what a system actually will (and will not) do, even if it is working to the stated specifications. ACTDs are essentially prototypes, not operational hardware, and they should undergo thorough operational T&E before follow-on production versions are procured and installed on fleet units.

Replicating realistic, representative operational scenarios for T&E in contaminated environments presents a different, but no less important, challenge.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Current practices do not allow for open-air release of actual chemical or biological threat agents in the vicinity of operational Navy or Marine Corps units. In fact, the national facility at Dugway, Utah, provides the only currently available open-air test capability in the United States at which limited dispersal of real chemical or biological threat agents is permitted. However, the high-desert environment of Utah bears little resemblance to the marine environment in which naval forces predominantly operate. Therefore, in order to inform the acquisition decision maker about the operational effectiveness and operational suitability of a proposed new system before it is procured and deployed, test plans must depend on a number of other sources of data or information. These include sophisticated numerical modeling and simulation, augmented by agent tests in environmentally controlled chambers, testing in near-operational conditions using surrogate agents where available, the results of what open-air testing may be possible, and the experience of our international friends and allies. For almost every one of these sources, the committee found that the Navy is committing, at best, a limited level of effort and resources.

In considering options for dealing with this shortcoming, the committee found an analogous situation in the acceptance of shipboard firefighting equipment and procedures. After serious shipboard firefighting shortfalls in operational environments, the Chief of Naval Research and the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, agreed that it was advantageous to collaborate in establishing a fire research test ship, the ex-LSD Shadwell, now run aground in Mobile Bay, Alabama, to test new firefighting capabilities in controlled burns aboard a realistic representation of a Navy combatant.

Non-Medical S&T Recommendation: Naval-specific Testing and Evaluation

A much more serious and comprehensive program in testing and evaluation for chemical and biological warfare defense should be undertaken by the Navy. It should include both modeling and simulation and realistic test environments. Modeling and simulation efforts should be assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, as an adjunct to the role it is already serving for the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program. The provision of realistic test environments is the responsibility of the Director of Navy Test and Evaluation and Technology Requirements (N91).

Difficult or not, operational testing should be considered a headquarters responsibility to its warfighting customers before new systems are introduced to the fleet. Such testing may employ compromises necessitated by the potential hazards involved, but it should use every information source available to answer the same set of questions that would be asked about any other new operational system being introduced to the fleet.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Because of the impossibility of replicating the full range of chemical or biological threat environments, there will be a necessary reliance on modeling and simulation to help shape the decision maker’s conclusions with regard to the operational effectiveness and suitability of new systems. The Chief of Naval Research, in his dual role as the director of Navy Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, should insist that the scientific, technological, and analytic foundations of the models under development through the Joint CBD Program are computationally sound and consistent with known physical principles. With the lead that the Navy holds in the modeling and simulation commodity area, the Chief of Naval Research should have a direct route into the process.

Given the Navy’s natural reluctance to use an operational unit in the T&E of equipment and procedures applicable to a chemically or biologically contaminated environment, the Navy should consider establishing a chemical and biological simulant test ship analogous to the ex-LSD Shadwell for assessing the dispersion of agents on the surfaces and interior spaces of a ship and for testing chemical and biological agent detectors, decontamination procedures, and similar processes that are incompatible with use of an active-force ship.

ASSESSMENTS OF THE FIVE COMMODITY AREAS

Summary observations and issues of importance to naval forces within each of the five commodity areas are offered in this section to help underpin the recommendations that have been discussed so far in this chapter. (Appendix C offers a more complete discussion of these areas.)

Contamination Avoidance

Consistent with the Joint CBD Program’s organization of the science and technology associated with contamination avoidance, the following is divided into a discussion of point detection and standoff detection. Within those divisions, sensors for chemical and biological agents are discussed separately, because each almost always requires different science and technology. Working from the contamination avoidance principle, both standoff and point detection programs have an eventual goal of “detect to warn” versus the more closely realized current capability of “detect to treat,” although chemical sensors are getting close to the goal technically if they can be successfully coupled into a command and control system.

Chemical Point Detection

Modern chemical warfare (CW) agents are produced as solids, vapors, or liquids, depending on the application. Liquids can be volatile, such as sarin (GB), which converts to vapor form quickly, or nonvolatile, such as the nerve agent VX

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

(O-ethyl S-diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonothiolate), which emits little vapor at standard temperatures. Liquids can also be sprayed into the air as aerosols or fixed on a solid matrix such as silica particles (dusty agents), or perhaps be fixed on soil particles. In these cases, volatile agent droplets or volatile agents loaded on inert particles will still emit a vapor signature. Liquid agents can also leave ground contamination. Agents such as mustard and VX are designed for use in terrain denial. They persist in the environment because of their low volatility. Solid agents, such as BZ (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate), will often be aerosolized as an inhalable powder. Many of the techniques for delivering solids are designed to defeat the standard vapor detection devices used by most military forces. Precursors and by-products can be found in any of these physical forms.

Unfortunately, because the response to direct exposure to CW agents is typically very fast and violent, humans may provide the initial warning for the presence of such substances in the immediate environment. It is obviously preferable to be able to detect the presence of CW agents through some other form of interaction. There are numerous other physical mechanisms, which can be exploited to produce robust detection, classification, and identification signatures. Although CW agents can appear in many different physical forms—solids or liquids, with or without inert components—such chemical substances typically have distinctive and measurable mass and chemical and electromagnetic properties.

The Navy has done significant work on chemical weapons point sensors in the past—for example, NRL pioneered the surface acoustic wave (SAW) approach, which has been selected for the next-generation chemical point detector (the joint chemical agent detector (JCAD)). Since the advent of the Joint CBD Program, however, sustaining support for the work at NRL has evaporated. The Joint CBD Program has not supported centers of excellence as had existed at NRL, because of the processes described earlier. In fact, the Joint CBD Program has left the NRL group somewhat on the outside—for example, the group currently exists largely on funding secured from other agencies on a project-byproject basis and does not play strongly in the Joint CBD Program, in strong contrast to the Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command (ECBC) research group, which is very much in evidence in key joint positions. Encouragingly, NRL has been a major consultant in the JCAD development, although the Air Force leads the effort.

The chemical and biological defense community has long viewed chemical and biological agents, not unreasonably, as best avoided and has tacitly assumed that this is the primary function of sensors, that is, to warn so that the threat can be avoided. The fact that the Joint CBD Program, under the title of “Contamination Avoidance,” groups all chemical and biological sensors together strongly emphasizes this point. The avoidance assumption has a large effect on the requirements and technology selection of chemical weapons point detectors—speed is very important, which stresses competing requirements for specificity and

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

sensitivity. It also appears that there has been a focus on the technologies requiring sample capture (i.e., true “point”) versus optical possibilities for point detectors—only ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) and SAW seem to be serious contenders. Given the above, the existing chemical weapons point sensor technologies of IMS and SAW are relatively mature technologies.

Existing chemical weapons point detectors do not satisfy the fundamental needs of decontamination—that is, “When is it clean enough?” This requires a new look at chemical weapons point sensor requirements, probably leading to different parameter trade-offs (e.g., “Bigger might be OK! Slower might be OK!”) and different technologies (e.g., mass spectrometry (MS) rather than IMS, spectral signatures versus mass, and so on). Research at Edgewood seems to be revectored, at some level, in this direction; investigators reported to the committee members that the demonstration of real-time detection and surface mapping to 0.5 g/m2 by an experimental carbon dioxide (CO2) light detection and ranging (LIDAR) “proves the concept for decontamination applications.”7

Actions for the Navy to consider in the area of chemical point detection include these:

  • Working with the Joint CBD Program to reconsider the requirements and technologies for decontamination applications. The greater sensitivities required for such applications can be achieved at the expense of longer response time, allowing for consideration of different technologies, such as MS. Optical spectral approaches may also be practical, and can eliminate the need for sample capture and injection into the sensor.

  • Development of system concepts for contamination avoidance (CA). For CA applications (i.e., the existing sensors already in the field or in development), the implications of networking remote arrays—for example, automatic target recognition, fusion, data and communications formatting, and so on—are largely nonexistent.

  • “Tech watch” by the Office of Naval Research of novel developments in microfabricated concepts suitable for very small dosage monitoring and multiple, distributed sensor arrays for area or perimeter monitoring.

Biological Point Detection

At least six approaches are being used for the detection and identification of biological agents:

7  

Meeting of the Non-Medical S&T Panel of the Committee for an Assessment of Naval Forces’ Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats, Naval Studies Board, at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., on January 17-18, 2001.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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  1. Nucleic acid sequence detection and identification,

  2. Binding affinity and specificity using natural antibodies to target antigens,

  3. Ligands and artificial antibodies for binding affinity and specificity,

  4. Response of living cells or tissue to pathogen or toxin exposure,

  5. Chemical analysis, and

  6. Culture-based approaches including microscopy.

Numerous measurement approaches use these basic six techniques. For instance, a binding event between the target agent and the test probe can be measured using the differences in mass between the individual molecules and the bound complex. Alternatively, an optical label can be attached to the probe and detection achieved after physical filtering of the molecular complex to provide separation from the labeled probe. Each of the six basic techniques has resulted in numerous instrument prototypes and concepts for detection and identification.

The program goal of detecting all biological threat agents at sensitivities of 1 agent-containing particle per liter of air (1 ACPLA) had not been achieved in any instrument discussed with the committee, however. Moreover, for the foreseeable future, there is no biological sensor or sensor network that can completely realize the goals of contamination avoidance. The most advanced sensors reviewed by the committee were based on either antibody or nucleic acid detection. Antibodybased instruments, while widely fielded, suffer from false positives that can result in failure to use them when needed. Nucleic acid–based systems are both sensitive and specific, but may require significant sample preparation and are currently expensive. Both types of sensors need more assays so that a broader range of threats can be detected and identified. Both types of sensors would benefit from being able to perform tests for multiple agents simultaneously. Because some of the most aggressive prototyping has been done as part of demonstrations, the logistics and maintenance aspects of deploying many of these systems are not complete. Both types of sensors are becoming simpler, but need to get closer to the use and maintenance of an instrument such as a Geiger counter. In addition, it was not clear to the committee how the results of a measurement are expected to be integrated into the command and control infrastructure.

Sample collection and preparation have advanced but are also important areas for improvement. The challenge is to adequately sample large volumes of air, water, solids, or surfaces for contamination in a time frame and with equipment that is operationally effective. Concentrating the target molecules into a much smaller volume without adversely affecting detection and identification is also difficult.

In the near term, a single instrument will not be able to adequately detect and identify both chemical and biological agents. Mass spectrometry has some promise in this area but will require long-term investment. It is likely that different sample preparations will be required for chemical and biological samples.

Since there is no biological point sensor or sensor system available in the foreseeable future that can come close to meeting the goal of complete contami-

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

nation avoidance, science and technology priorities in this area should be assessed in the context of managing the end-to-end risk for naval operations, with an overall goal of executing the military mission. The trade-offs among sensors for environmental aerosol point samples (traditional contamination avoidance approach), testing of food and water supplies, medical surveillance, and supporting decontamination and restoration of operations need to be made for naval applications at sea, in the littorals, at port, and on air bases. The committee’s opinion is that a combined analytic and experimental evaluation is needed to prioritize additional investments in biological point detection science and technology. The best path for achieving this evaluation is for ONR to undertake an analysis relevant to naval operational environments and then work with the Joint CBD Program to define an appropriate experimental program to address the key shortcomings in sensitivity, selectivity, and timeliness in order to meet naval operational needs. Providing science and technology that helps the commanding officer make risk-based decisions is the priority. Sensors have advanced sufficiently so that an evaluation could begin immediately. Several biological point detection and identification systems have been deployed for DOD and civilian applications. An assessment of what has been learned through these deployments is an appropriate starting point for the larger analysis and experiments needed for a full-scale evaluation.

In the short term, there are opportunities to enhance sensor performance. A first step is expanding the number of biological agents that can be detected. This requires producing the signature—for example, the nucleic acid signature or antibody—and implementing the assay consistent with current sensors. A second step is improving sample preparation for representative naval environments. For example, the Navy should undertake extensive testing of nucleic acid detection in a marine environment and develop techniques to use contamination avoidance sensors for decontamination and restoration operations as well as for food and water supply testing.

In the long term, the sensors will get smaller, cheaper, faster, and easier to use and to network into large systems. These changes will provide an opportunity to deploy networks of point detectors forward to accomplish the same goals as those of a standoff system. These sensor networks will require attention to logistics and risk management issues. In the committee’s opinion, addressing the risk management issues in the near term will help focus the development of these more complex networks available in the future.

Chemical Standoff Detection

With respect to contamination avoidance, there are obvious advantages to being able to detect and classify agents at ranges sufficient for avoidance reaction times. Electromagnetic (EM) interactions, which probe the energy-level structure of chemical molecules, are particularly useful in this context, leading to various

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

forms of classical spectrometry that are known to be capable of both excellent sensitivity and specificity. Because of the propagation properties of EM waves, spectroscopic approaches can be successfully applied remotely for standoff detection and classification of CW agents. The optical technologies (e.g., telescopes, lasers, beam splitters, detector arrays) needed to support these applications are quite mature, having been developed over many decades in other contexts. Both active and passive optical techniques are possible. Active approaches utilize a laser source that can illuminate the suspect cloud or surface with several different wavelengths of laser light. Passive optical techniques exploit the natural illumination in the environment (e.g., thermal radiation from the elements in the scene, the Sun, the agent cloud itself, and so on) in place of the active laser beam. While simpler in principle, passive systems may not be as sensitive or robust as active systems in many operating environments.

A general problem for standoff optical sensors is that they are complex and grow rapidly in size and cost of the optics (and laser, if active) as the range requirements are increased. Thus, standoff sensors are best applied in relatively fixed locations, such as perimeter warning systems to protect large installations, or on ships, looking upwind at sea. Vehicle mounting is not excluded, but handheld versions will necessarily be limited to short-range applications.

Although it would not be surprising to learn that NRL has in the past investigated both active and passive remote sensing optical systems, the only activity in the Navy prior to the establishment of the Joint CBD Program of which the committee was aware was the fielding in the 1990s of the AN/KAS-1, chemical weapon directional detector (CWDD), a multispectral passive imaging system that uses a thermal imager and a wheel that contains filters which absorb in three spectral regions that are agent-specific. This sensor is not considered user-friendly and requires an alert, skilled operator to manually address suspicious cloud formations. With only three spectral bands, this sensor is not particularly discriminating. In discussions with fleet personnel, it was found that the CWDD is prone to false-positive cloud detections, especially in port, where there are a significant number of pollutant vapors that can confound the system and its operator. As a result, the CWDD has often been ignored in practice, leaving the Navy at present without any effective long-range CW agent detection capabilities in the field.

A new concept, based on Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry, forms the basis for the Joint CBD Program passive sensor in development known as the joint service lightweight standoff chemical agent detector (JSLSCAD). Described as a second-generation chemical agent detector, it is said to represent an improvement over the Army’s currently available M21 remote sensing chemical agent alarm (RSCAAL). As a hyperspectral rather than a multispectral approach, better performance can be anticipated. Under the Army’s lead, the JSLSCAD is currently scheduled to move into production in the next few years. While the performance potential of the FTIR technology seems large, a great deal of development remains, and slippage in the program schedule should not come

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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as a surprise. The program does not anticipate that the naval environment will introduce any anomalous behavior, and it is hoped that the final system will be characterized by a very low rate of false positives. The committee nonetheless recommends that the Navy assess the JSLSCAD in marine environments before accepting it for fleet operation.

In the area of active standoff systems, the Navy currently has the lead in the development of a standoff chemical weapons agent detection system known as Artemis, a project in the Joint CBD Program started in FY 2001. The Joint CBD Program and the Department of Energy (DOE) have already demonstrated airborne liquid and vapor detectors and cloud mapping techniques with prototype LIDAR systems, although detection of liquid ground contamination has yet to be demonstrated. Artemis is scheduled to complete development and enter production in FY 2007. The Joint Service Chemical and Biological Defense Research, Development, and Acquisition Plan describes Artemis as a LIDAR-based “realtime, standoff detection system for chemical agent contamination monitoring and avoidance as well as for dewarning (i.e., indication that agent is no longer present) and indicating areas for decontamination.”8 A successful LIDAR technology could have important applications across the range of naval operations.

The Navy should fully support the JSLSCAD and Artemis standoff CW agent detector developments, as such sensors would be very useful for naval operations. The lessons learned from the CWDD should not be lost—too many false positives can nullify any other performance benefits that the sensor may possess.

Biological Standoff Sensors

The remote detection of biological warfare (BW) agents by interaction with electromagnetic radiation differs from the case of CW agents primarily in the nature of the spectral properties of complex organic materials. Except under very high spectral resolution, the spectra of biological agents appear broad and relatively featureless, offering few unique characteristics to distinguish lethal agents from benign organisms. Complicating the situation is the fact that BW agents can be distributed at far lower concentrations (i.e., three or more orders of magnitude) than CW agents and still be effective. A further exacerbation is the presence of naturally occurring background biological species in typically far greater concentrations and with similar spectral features. Given these factors of weaker returns, featureless spectral properties, and interfering background species, the active LIDAR differential absorption/scatter and passive multi- and hyperspectral techniques that work so well for standoff detection of CW agents are generally

8  

Joint Service Materiel Group. 2001. Joint Service Chemical and Biological Defense Research, Development and Acquisition Plan; Supporting Planning Period FY03-17, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., July.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

ineffective against biological agents. This is not to say that these techniques do not work at all with biological agents but rather that the discrimination capabilities are poor (high false-positive rate). LIDAR systems, which detect only the presence of aerosols, independent of their nature, have been used a number of times. However, no BW agent standoff detection systems with useful classification/identification capabilities have been developed so far using these techniques.

On the other hand, biological materials do respond to electromagnetic radiation in a very characteristic and measurable way that is used commonly in biological laboratories—under ultraviolet (UV) excitation they fluoresce at longer wavelengths in the visible to infrared (IR). Active irradiation with a UV laser pulse followed by multi- or hyperspectral detection in the visible/IR offers the potential for effective standoff detection of airborne BW agents at reasonable concentrations and ranges, and several such systems have been under development in recent years. As a practical matter, however, fluorescence of biological materials tends to decrease as the exciting wavelength approaches the visible region of the spectrum, so the design of such a UV LIDAR fluorescence system involves difficult trade-offs between laser wavelength availability, range of propagation, and strength of the resulting fluorescence signals.

The committee uncovered no evidence that the Navy had conducted any R&D appropriate to airborne biological weapons standoff detection prior to the establishment of the Joint CBD Program. There has been relevant and interesting work on UV laser systems under development in the Army for a number of years. A prototype system known as the short-range biological detector system (SRBSDS) has been field-tested successfully. Using a frequency-multiplied yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) laser, this system irradiates in the UV and detects the amino acid fluorescence in the near-UV spectral region. Because the interrogating radiation is strongly absorbed in the atmosphere, this is a short-range system, but it clearly demonstrates that the overall approach is feasible for discriminating biological weapons from background. The use of longer UV wavelengths would improve the range capabilities, and the application of sophisticated multi- or hyperspectral techniques should improve the discrimination capabilities. DOE also has been sponsoring work along these lines, and a prototype biological weapons standoff detection system based on similar principles is currently undergoing field tests. This particular system has also been under assessment by the Third Fleet for shipboard applications. Because of the nature of the BW threat, the many ways in which it could be delivered, and the latency of effects, it seems difficult to argue that real-time, longrange standoff detection of airborne biological weapons should be of the highest priority. On the other hand, a real-time, short-range standoff system, particularly if it had good classification/identification capabilities, would be very useful for decontamination. The UV fluorescent phenomenon and the progress in system development to date suggest that the Navy should evaluate requirements for—and push priority for—the Joint CBD Program to develop such a capability, which would be of value to the other Services, as well.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Individual Protection and Collective Protection

Physical protection traditionally involves methods of avoiding injury from chemical or biological weapons that enter the body through mucous membranes and/or contact the skin. The subject has been reviewed in depth recently.9 The Joint CBD Program currently funds the development of a suite of physical protective technologies. These can be divided into individual protective equipment and collective protection systems. Both individual and collective protective techniques depend on creating a barrier between the contaminated environment and personnel and/or equipment. Currently technologies are designed to protect against CW and BW agents, while future improvements will add protection against toxic industrial chemicals. Individual protective equipment generally consists of suits and masks, while collective systems involve sealed shelters and compartments to create an agent-free environment. For individual protection, five levels of mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) were originally established. These range from MOPP-0 (no individual protective gear) to MOPP-4 (all protective gear worn—gloves, boots, overgarments, masks).

The Joint CBD Program currently funds research, development, and testing for both individual and collective protection. Collective Protection System (CPS) retrofits and the shipboard collective protection equipment (SCPE) project are focused on extending the lifetime of shipboard high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for protection systems based on overpressurization with clean air. It should be noted that the Navy made a significant commitment to integrating CPSs into the design and construction of new destroyers in the 1980s, so a number of such platforms have found their way into the fleet. The commitment has recently been extended to amphibious ships and to retrofitting some existing vessels. This was a cost-effective decision under the assumptions of the Sovietera threat against the battle group, but it should be reexamined as a potential upgrade for all ships in the current environment of asymmetric threats in which attacks could be targeted to individual vessels in port or in the littorals.

Based on the committee’s investigation, the following observations—which strongly validate the recommendations of this chapter—are made:

  • Sustained military operations at MOPP-4 are unlikely owing to heat and respiratory loads and the inability to perform fine-motor functions at this level. This will remain the case for some time. Efforts to develop improved, semipermeable “breathable” fabrics are unlikely to yield new, widely fielded garments for a number of years.

9  

National Research Council. 2000. Strategies to Protect the Health of Deployed U.S. Forces: Force Protection and Decontamination, Board on Army Science and Technology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×
  • Current Navy practice apparently dictates either MOPP-0 (no individual protective gear) or full MOPP-4–level protection. In response to some asymmetric attacks, intermediate levels of protection may be acceptable and could minimize the impact on operations. For example, a “mask only” posture would protect against most biological weapons and vapor chemical weapons.

  • The availability of individual protective equipment within the Navy is limited if one considers the expanding needs associated with protecting not only deployed forces, but also personnel at bases and shore installations, OCONUS ports, and civilian and logistics support.

  • Adequate protection against the broad spectrum of toxic industrial chemicals and materials that might be employed in asymmetric warfare is currently lacking.

A number of short-term actions by the Navy would significantly improve combat readiness and post-exposure recovery:

  • As noted in Chapter 3, the Navy should prioritize the acquisition and distribution of additional protective garments and masks to the fleet, bases, installations, and port facilities to enhance operational readiness against the mounting specter of asymmetric chemical or biological attacks.

  • The Navy should acknowledge the operational need for several levels of individual protection, consistent with varying levels of risk. Not all scenarios will dictate full MOPP gear. Guidelines should be developed that enable a commander to assess the risk and impact to operations when making decisions on the appropriate level of protection. The commander should be able to develop a rationale based on clearly developed and understood guidance for balancing protection and operational performance. Additional investigations into the health effects of operating in MOPP gear (e.g., heat and respiratory stress) and both short- and long-term toxicology associated with CW agents are needed as part of establishing the required data base. Furthermore, a transition to higherlevel MOPP protection should not temporarily subject the warfighter to unnecessary risks (e.g., temporary removal of the protective mask). The use of toxic industrial materials during an asymmetric attack is possible; thus, development and/or acquisition of filters capable of removing a wider variety of chemical compounds should be aggressively pursued. Civil and industrial response units have well-developed procedures and practices for many toxic industrial chemicals, which the Navy should assess and appropriately adapt. Naval commanders should also determine if commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology can be used effectively today for incidents at bases and ports or to remedy current shortfalls in the quantity of available protective equipment.

  • Overall, near- and long-range R&D plans are reasonably well thought out and should address most of the important concerns. For example, regenerative

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

filters would minimize the number of required filter change-outs and thus reduce the risk of contaminating the protective citadel. The Navy should champion the development, testing, and fielding of regenerative filters for collective protection systems. Similarly, emerging portable CPSs can provide a contamination-free area for intermittent respites from full MOPP gear and also for treating contaminated casualties. Adaptation of the portable protective systems should be aggressively pursued, since this capability is needed on many vessels and at fixed naval sites. Work should also continue to improve the seals around individual protective masks, including the use of barrier creams.

Decontamination

From the briefings received by the committee, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that decontamination results when “the battle is lost.” It is seen as the undesirable consequence of failure to do an adequate job of protecting against attack. It is about dealing with the mess that is left over. It is relegated to the status of damage control and largely hoped to be an operation never exercised. In the committee’s opinion—and as stated many times throughout this report—this thinking is inappropriate for the asymmetric threat environment. Attacks with chemical or biological agents or toxic industrial chemicals will occur—and some of them will be successful.

The tools and methods of decontamination should, more appropriately, be viewed as an integral part of the suite of passive defense capabilities that are necessary to survive attack and quickly bring operations back up to tempo. Therefore, a key element to managing the consequences of such an attack is to achieve rapid recovery to operational status, which in turn requires a well-planned decontamination capability. With improved materials, tools, protocols, and training, decontamination can be made much more efficient and effective.

Decontamination Standards

Effective decontamination requires reducing the presence of the toxic compound or biological agent to a level that is considered safe for personnel. The acceptable risk level in some cases may well be higher than those that might be allowed for civilian operations, depending on the scenario and operational procedures in place. Determining the appropriate level of decontamination for a situation is the result of assessment and decision making based on all of the risks. Setting the appropriate risk levels and decontamination specifications is an area in need of Navy doctrinal development that should then lead to the development of testing and performance standards to be used for field as well as base and longterm equipment decontamination procedures.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×
Decontamination Test Equipment

The ability to decontaminate equipment and buildings to specified levels of cleanliness requires the ability to measure levels lower than the capability of current field sensors being developed for contamination avoidance. While the technologies will generally be the same for both contamination avoidance and decontamination applications, the sensitivities for decontamination assessment are typically more stringent because of the uncertainties in the risks of long-term, low-level exposures. At the same time, timescales for getting a measurement are more relaxed, compared with contamination avoidance requirements. It is crucial that the R&D community develop instruments and procedures capable of making these measurements for both chemical and biological agents in order to facilitate a rapid return to normal operations.

Decontamination Methods and Materials

Decontamination of chemical agents can be accomplished by (1) chemically destroying the active molecule through reactive conversion to less toxic compounds, (2) removing the agent with high-absorption materials, (3) creating a barrier between the chemical agent and the environment, or (4) diluting the agent to such a low level of concentration that it is rendered harmless.

Traditional decontaminating reagents, such as DS2 (the currently fielded standard decontaminating solution containing diethylenetriamine, 2-methoxyethanol, and sodium hydroxide), chemically convert the CW agent into a much less harmful compound. These reagents are based on solutions of strong solvents, powerful oxidizing agents, and alkaline substitution reactions. They are capable of decontaminating a wide variety of conventional CW agents (H, G, V agents), but they are also caustic and corrosive to many common materials, especially plastics and elastomers. Because of the toxicity of such reagents and the products that they form, the process of decontamination creates environmentally hazardous residues requiring special treatment. Similarly, the decontamination of biologically contaminated areas also uses solutions and gaseous mixtures containing strong oxidants such as hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorine dioxide. These materials also have the disadvantage of being toxic and corrosive.

Because of their corrosive properties, none of these materials is fully suitable for decontaminating sensitive electronic equipment. Alternative methods such as the use of liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide or aromatic solvents do not involve the use of corrosive solution decontaminants and could be used on electronics and other sensitive equipment.

Decontamination of personnel and wounds requires materials that can effectively remove the toxic agent without further damaging the skin or tissues. Historically this has been done with dilute solutions of hypochlorite and soap and water for both biological and chemical agents. Absorbent packets that contain

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

activated carbon and a variety of other ingredients are also used for chemical decontamination.

The Navy has some equipment and situations that present special challenges for decontamination owing to the sensitivity of certain surfaces to degradation by some of the conventional decontaminants (aircraft, optical instruments, canopies, and the like). On the other hand, there are other surfaces that are more resistant to decontamination because of the tenacity of certain surfaces for retaining agents (e.g., antiskid surfaces), and these require more aggressive treatments.

Because of the wide range of often-conflicting requirements placed on the design of decontaminating materials, it is practically impossible to design a formulation and application method that can accommodate all needs. This problem becomes even more difficult when one considers the possible use of toxic industrial chemicals as chemical warfare agents.

Finally, when one considers the environmental requirements and long-term safe exposure levels necessary to restore activity at a base or a harbor, it becomes clear that many of the materials that were designed for battlefield decontamination (such as DS2) do not provide good solutions for allowing a rapid return to sustained operations. For all of these reasons, it is important to have a variety of high-performance decontamination materials and methods that can address the spectrum of decontamination needs.

Some currently fielded and in-development decontamination materials and equipment are described in Appendix C. Decontamination materials becoming available are substantially less corrosive, less toxic, and much more environmentally acceptable, and still maintain a broad spectrum of effectiveness against a wide range of nerve, mustard, and biological agents. In addition, new, specialpurpose decontaminating agents are being developed to deal more effectively with a number of special needs. Finally, the logistical burden created by the decontamination system is also important, and future systems are aimed at making significant reductions relative to currently fielded systems.

The technical approaches to achieving efficient decontamination with milder, less toxic, and more environmentally acceptable materials use catalysts and enzymes, along with new types of surfactants. Combinations of catalysts and surfactants permit the use of nontoxic oxidizing agents that are effective without being corrosive or having undesirable environmental impact. New formulations use hydrogen peroxide, peroxy compounds, or dioxiranes, which are commonly employed in the commercial detergent industry as an alternative to chlorine bleach. These approaches have been successful in destroying both chemical agents and biological organisms in laboratory tests. Other catalysts can destroy chemical agents by causing water to rapidly react with the chemical agents, transforming them into relatively nontoxic products.

New types of enzymes that are being studied have demonstrated the ability to destroy nerve agents, as well as sporulated BW agents. These reactions have

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

been shown to take place rapidly and thoroughly at relatively mild conditions. In addition, enzymatic decontamination could lead to a large reduction in the quantities of decontamination materials needed and the associated logistical requirements.

Efforts to decontaminate electronics and sensitive equipment are exploring the use of nonaqueous solvent systems such as supercritical carbon dioxide. Nanoparticles of certain metal oxides are being studied as candidates for future dry decontamination systems. Other work is under way to identify decontamination materials that would be safe and approved for use on aircraft surfaces.

The Navy has seawater washdown capability on its ships (not a part of the Joint CBD Program), and there are tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) relating to washdown before anticipated exposure to chemical and biological warfare attacks, to reduce contamination absorption on surfaces, and to wash down again for decontamination after exposure. An understanding of the effectiveness of this procedure coupled with effective use of the capability should be regarded as an important element of readiness to manage risks for chemical and biological warfare defense.

Agent Fate Studies

Critical to setting standards, and from those the requirements for decontamination test equipment, methods, and materiel, is a sound understanding of the fate of agents on contact with the surfaces exposed. The recent Air Force–led experiments on runway surfaces demonstrated that physical and chemical attributes of a contaminated substrate are important considerations in assessing agent fate. The absorption of a CW agent into a porous substrate, such as asphalt or decking, will lead to specific substrate–agent interactions, dictating the effective vapor pressure and influencing the agent leach rate over time. Similarly, the chemical reaction of agent with substrates such as concrete and paints may favorably reduce the amount of agent. In some cases, it is conceivable that military operations may proceed with minimal, or even no, protection or active decontamination following a specified time after an attack by an identified agent in certain environmental conditions.

An understanding of agent–substrate interactions also provides the physical basis for more accurate source and sink terms that are essential input into dispersion and transport models. Thus, there should be examination in considerable depth of chemical agent permeation into porous substrates by diffusion and/or of surface-tension-driven flow and agent integrity as a function of environmental conditions such as temperature and moisture levels, in order to elucidate the governing variables and to develop guidelines to assist commanders in planning a restoration of operations. Work along these lines was recently initiated at ECBC in apparent response to the Air Force experiments on agent fate. As outlined to the committee, however, the ECBC agent–substrate program does not appear to

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
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be complete in scope, given the emergence of the asymmetric threat and the many variants that it introduces. This assessment of the ECBC agent–substrate program is similar to the finding by the DOD’s 2002 Technology Area Review and Assessment (TARA) panel,10 and the related part of the ECBC program is being overhauled in response but is unlikely to address all the naval environments of interest. In particular, the agent fate program focus appears to be on interactions between agent and selected militarily important surfaces. However, given the vulnerability of a CONUS base to asymmetric attack, the suite of materials should be expanded beyond traditional military hardware and paints. The classes of materials found in command, support, and logistical facilities should be included in the testing and evaluation plan, since their characteristics and decontamination (if required) would also play an important role in restoring full operational capability.

Furthermore, the role that a substrate plays in determining subsequent decontamination efficacy (e.g., required number of applications of reagent) cannot be ignored. For example, wicking of CW agents into pores will undoubtedly prove to be important regardless of the type of decontamination reagent employed (e.g., aqueous, foam, gaseous, and/or gelled), while the surface tension of aqueous reagents may limit permeation into small pores containing agent. Thus, the program should include decontamination testing with both fielded and developmental decontamination reagents. In addition, with the emergence of surfactant-laden decontamination reagents, evaluation should also include activity tests to ensure that the observed reduction in agent concentration is not due to the formation of new chemical or physical structures involving the surfactant (e.g., lipid-like interfacial layers) that might be missed with conventional sampling protocols.

The Navy is urged to consider spearheading similar agent fate studies focused on Navy-centric restoration issues, employing materials of utmost importance to Navy operations (e.g., carrier deck surfaces). In some cases, testing and evaluation costs can be controlled by the use of surrogates rather than live agents, although surrogate results must be reconciled with live agent data.

Performance Requirements for Decontamination

The Navy should review and redefine as necessary its specific performance requirements for the restoration of base or supply chain operations. For example, ECBC indicated that there was a push toward reducing the decontamination times in new systems from 30 minutes to 15. This appears to be driven by the traditional requirements for land-based, battlefield decontamination stations at which every

10  

Foster, Robert, and Anna Johnson-Winegar. 2002. Defense Science and Technology Advisory Group (DSTAG) Technology Area Review and Assessment. Office of the Director of Defense for Research and Development, Washington, D.C., March 25-29.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

minute counts. However, in a CONUS attack, the restoration of operations would likely be measured in hours (or days), owing to other factors such as estimating the route taken by a plume and restoring order in surrounding civil communities. The 15-minute reduction in decontamination time is unimportant in such cases. In the short term (5 years), studies should be able to determine the operational importance of agent fate and should establish the basis for answering operational questions such as, “When and where is decontamination likely to fail?” “When can protective gear be shed with acceptable risks?” and “Should point sensors be placed near specific (problematic) substrate materials?” This committee recommends that the Navy increase its physical presence at and interaction with Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command to ensure that Navy- and maritime-related issues are more visible to those formulating and executing the research and development programs.

Leveraging Civilian Best Practices

The tactics, techniques, and procedures developed in the chemical process industries for responding to the release of toxic industrial chemicals are well developed and should be fully exploited in the process of redefining Navy readiness planning. The Navy should identify and employ the best of these industrial practices (which generally satisfy the civil regulatory requirements) and expertise in its plan for responding to asymmetric attacks on CONUS bases, ports, and the logistical supply chain. It is not necessary, and it would be a mistake, for the Navy to try to reinvent this capability independently. Instead, the Navy should acquire this knowledge and adapt it to specific Navy needs. Careful consideration should be given to the balance between centralized doctrine and local planning. Navy-wide standardization favors centralization, while recognition of site-specific threats (e.g., a nearby chemical plant producing chlorine) favors more local planning. A balance should be struck.

Developing Operational Guidelines for Decontamination

The Navy should develop operational guidelines for the effective decontamination of its ships, bases, ports, airfields, and logistical chains—that is, make specific the joint doctrine expected as a product of the new Joint CBD Program requirements office in Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff/Director for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (OJCS/J8). Future Navy doctrine should discuss acceptable risks and evolve operational guidelines as to levels of decontamination and the levels of personnel protection that should be employed in order to minimize restoration time after contamination and maximize operational viability.

In the commercial world, in responding to chemical or biological events the objectives are to reduce the spread of the agent, the impact and casualties, and

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

property damage. Pre-deployment of response equipment, training of responders, establishing expert advisers and resources, establishing command, control, and communications functions, and, most importantly, grading the response to fit the need are all essential to meet these objectives. Understanding the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the suspected agent is critical. A great deal of uncertainty often exists during the early stages of an event. The causative agents (e.g., the concentrations, dispersion, and so on) are open to debate and speculation. In many cases, there is a need for scientific understanding of the array of possible agents and their properties. This understanding will significantly affect the actions taken, such as defining of the perimeter of response; levels of protection taken for responding personnel; decontamination and treatment of casualties, equipment, facilities, and terrain; and, in general, how to define the event (as major or minor). As the response advances and the situation is managed, the on-scene manager needs continuous expert advice on how to adjust the protection levels for personnel in various working modes and on how and when normal operations can be restored.

In a similar vein, as described in Chapter 3 on CONOPS development, the Navy is urged to make use of the Army and Marine Corps experience in establishing pre-event working relationships with the civil authorities who would be key resources in the event of both CONUS incidents and attacks on overseas bases and ports. Guidelines should be established a priori so that base commanders can make informed decisions regarding where best to obtain assistance (e.g., from the Navy surgeon, Army chemical corps, civil responders, Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force, the chemical industry, and so on). Necessarily, the operational concepts will vary depending on the attack scenario (e.g., involving ships at sea, littoral operations, CONUS base, supply chain, and so on) and situation.

In all cases, however, doctrine must clearly define the operational concepts and specify performance standards, providing logical and clear guidance that can be applied in each situation. The doctrine must be risk management–based. This approach implicitly acknowledges that characterization of the contaminated areas and their subsequent decontamination will not be perfect, and that residual chemical or biological risks will probably linger as operations are restored. Doctrine must provide the performance requirements (e.g., “How clean is acceptable?”), the definition of testing and evaluation techniques, and ultimately, what research and development needs remain. With the doctrine in hand, the investments in effective decontamination technology and procedures then can be clearly linked to Navy-specific needs.

Summary of Findings Related to Decontamination

The decontamination story is multifaceted, as evident in the preceding discussion, but capabilities sorely lag those in the areas of contamination avoidance and individual and collective protection. Recapping the findings noted in the discussion above:

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×
  • Effective decontamination materials and procedures should be viewed by the Navy as critical parts of a risk management–based, layered defense against chemical and biological agents.

  • The Navy should develop a doctrine about decontamination that sets guidelines, procedures and methods, standards of cleanliness, and sources of technical guidance that apply to ships and shore-based facilities.

  • No guidelines exist for what are acceptable or “safe” long-term exposure levels of chemical or biological agent that remains after decontamination. Studies should be undertaken to set the appropriate levels for short- and long-term exposures and address whether standards should differ between civilian and military environments.

  • No field instruments are capable of measuring to the concentration of a chemical or biological agent on decontaminated surfaces consistent with acceptable long-term exposure levels. Work should be started to develop equipment and test procedures that become a part of the decontamination toolkit. Most desirable would be a standoff surface scanning capability.

  • Little data exist on chemical or biological agent fates. Studies are needed to understand the consequences of the interactions of agents with substrates common to Navy ships and shore facilities. This information is critical for guiding an intelligent approach to decontaminating a site as well as for providing information about the long-term safety of decontaminated surfaces.

  • There also appear to be little data available on the health effects of longterm exposures to low-level concentrations of either chemical warfare agents or biological warfare agents or toxins. This information would be very helpful in establishing realistic standards for decontamination.

  • Progress is being made in research and development for significantly improved decontaminating reagents (low toxicity, low corrosiveness, environmentally benign) for both chemical and biological agents; these reagents should be able to address key Navy needs. In particular, the Joint Services Fixed Site Decontamination (JSFSD) Program is addressing the critical Navy need for a low-toxicity decontamination system for airbases, ports, and fixed base logistics nodes. The program is scheduled to deliver nontoxic and noncorrosive decontamination materials and application equipment.

  • Toxins, new-generation nerve agents, and toxic industrial chemicals have chemical properties different from those of traditional chemical agents. Fielded decontamination materials may not be effective against some of these threats. It is therefore important that the DOD program continue active surveillance, assessment, and countermeasure development against new chemical and biological threats and that the Navy understands in particular which toxic industrial chemicals might pose a threat to its installations.

  • Development work in the commercial sector and in other federal agency laboratories has resulted and/or will result in promising new products that may be

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

good fits to Navy decontamination needs. The committee recommends that the Navy explore these options in addition to participation in the Joint CBD Program.

In summary, the committee believes that the perception that chemical and biological incidents can be largely avoided by better vigilance and greatly improved sensors is flawed. The risk to the Navy of an asymmetric attack with chemical or biological agents or toxic industrial chemicals is serious. The tools and methods of decontamination should be viewed as an integral part of the suite of weapons and capabilities that are necessary to survive attack and quickly bring operations back up to tempo. With improved materials, tools, protocols, and training, decontamination can be made much more efficient and effective. To achieve an adequate state of readiness to counter an attack with chemical or biological agents, the Navy should significantly improve its decontamination agents, methods, technical understanding, training, and doctrine, as outlined above.

Modeling and Simulation

Over the past 10 years, much of the emphasis in the chemical and biological modeling community has been on plume modeling—which includes estimating the dispersion and fate of plumes generated from explosive air or ground bursts, agent transport within enclosed spaces (e.g., high-value facilities), semienclosed spaces (e.g., subway systems), and plume migration and deposition within the urban landscape. In addition, high-fidelity modeling around the superstructure of specific ships has been conducted. The use of models in fixed-site locations to guide the placement of sensors is also being explored. Work in modeling and simulation for chemical and biological agent dispersion has been performed under the auspices of the DOD (NRL and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) within the Navy), DOE, and academia. The models in use may be cast in terms of a variety of mathematical formulations and may employ different computational schemes; thus, one finds models based on Gaussian puffs, computational fluid dynamics, and random walk Lagrangian particle codes. In addition to the use of finer computational grids (directly related to available computational power), the models are continually being refined to include more realistic descriptions of local wind fields, solar heating/nighttime cooling, source and sink terms, droplet aerodynamics, and evaporation.

With the goal of verifying, validating, and accrediting DOD modeling tools, the deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for chemical and biological defense has established a council to provide advice on modeling and simulation and associated data needs. The Joint Service Integration Group convened a “requirements” panel to define programmatic requirements. (It remains to be seen if this panel will continue under the new Office of the Joint Staff/J8.) Similarly, the

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Joint Service Materiel Group has also defined a business commodity area for modeling and simulation, with the Navy serving as the lead Service.

Based on the information made available to the committee, the following summary observations describe the committee’s impressions:11

  • The immediate capability need is for modeling and simulation tools that will enable a commander to estimate exposure levels as a function of location and identify the areas that will likely suffer further contamination.

  • Accurate estimates of plume dispersion and deposition of agent are unlikely using real-time computations.

  • The accuracy of models will ultimately be limited by practical considerations. These include uncertainties both in the input data (time and precise location of release, initial plume characteristics, or interior dispersion characteristics) and in the local meteorological conditions.

  • High-fidelity models are a useful tool for predicting flow over and around the superstructure of naval vessels under a variety of meteorological conditions; as such, they provide useful guidance for the optimal placement of onboard sensors. Less work has been done on predicting flow at ports and bases.

  • Threats from industrial manufacturing sites or those using industrial chemicals are viable and potentially crippling to operations. Relatively smallscale releases involving toxic industrial chemicals could have a major impact on operational capability if executed with precision.

  • For biological attacks, the time lag between exposure and symptoms and the current lack of reliable, deployable sensors suggest that a model-based system formulated from the perspective of tracking agent dispersion and distribution and the location of the exposed individuals may be the most useful approach for some time.

  • The possibility of genetically altered agents, which introduces the potential for many more scenarios, suggests that model-based approaches to identify and track biological attacks for estimating who might be exposed will be prudent for some years.

  • Emerging efforts to link chemical fate prediction and/or measurement with operational decision-making tools (battlefield management information systems) is a promising direction for new modeling and simulation efforts.

The observations above lead the committee to the following assessment:

  • Rather than trying to improve the accuracy of poorly characterized input parameters, the details of which will likely remain uncertain, it might be more

11  

Appendix C elaborates on descriptions of current chemical and biological modeling approaches.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

productive to use simplified plume dispersion and deposition models in conjunction with sensor arrays to give an operationally predictive capability. For this purpose, a simple dispersion model could be used to give an indication of the shape of the dispersion plume as a function of time and location, and then the magnitude of release could be estimated by normalizing to distributed sensor readings. Efforts to integrate computationally simplified models and sensor arrays can provide a means of sidestepping the need for highly accurate initial release data and precise knowledge of local meteorological conditions and thus could provide a valuable capability for consequence management.

  • Additional high-fidelity modeling of releases in and near ports and bases is warranted. As with individual ships, predictive simulations will guide sensor placement. Furthermore, detailed modeling of plume transport and deposition about each major port or base under a wide variety of conditions could be condensed into a simplified form (nomographs or computerized expert systems) and made available to the commanders for use in real time. Some work along these lines has been conducted at NRL. This is a significant undertaking, since simply establishing detailed computational grids for a large port requires much work. Validation of the models will also require considerable effort. Nevertheless, the investment should provide useful operational tools for incident response and consequence management.

  • Additional investment in discrete event simulations focused on elucidating the operational bottlenecks during a recovery operation may also prove fruitful. These tools can assist decision making with respect to a myriad of possible scenarios that involve considerable uncertainty. Recognizing that aspects of the problem are stochastic in nature (e.g., sensor failures and fluctuations in the meteorological conditions), such computer simulations may offer the best approach for doing systematic trade-off studies for incident response and consequence management, at least in a statistical sense. An example of a structure for such a simulation is outlined in Appendix C. This example is offered not for completeness, but to illustrate the methodology and basic concepts. At another level, operationally focused simulations could also be used as a guide in determining how to allocate resources to the various aspects of the Joint CBD Program itself (e.g., sensors, models, protective equipment, decontamination techniques, vaccines, medical treatment, and so on).

COMMAND, CONTROL, AND COMMUNICATIONS: FINDINGS, ASSESSMENTS, AND ANALYSIS

The committee believes it important to include comments on the critical system-level issues related to command, control, and communications (C3) for chemical or biological defense. The discussion is limited to the physical C3 structure needed to support operations in a chemical or biological environment, that is, the interconnection of sensors, databases, and decision makers.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

The committee was pleased to learn that the Joint CBD Program is aware of the importance of adequate command, control, and communications, and in the form of the JWARN has begun to address the problem. The Marine Corps is the lead Service for the network. JWARN today appears to be in an early stage of development (having been restructured after a false start a few years ago)—defining concepts and standards and developing and demonstrating prototype hardware and software. Several contractual efforts have been funded over the past several years for hardware and software suitable to provide sensor connectivity between various host computers and interfaces with a number of legacy and proposed sensors—chemical, biological, and otherwise (e.g., automatic chemical agent detector alarm (ACADA); Global Positioning System (GPS); joint biological point detection system (JBPDS); improved point detection system (IPDS); JSLSCAD; JCAD; radiation, detection, indication, and computation (RADIAC) nuclear detector; and so on).

It appeared to the committee, however, that JWARN is being viewed as a self-contained system that will provide the warfighter with sensor connectivity, analysis, and warning and reporting capabilities specific to a biological or chemical threat environment. This appears to be dangerously like another stovepipe approach to C3. JWARN should be fully integrated into the overall battle management system in use. Unfortunately, battle management systems are continuously evolving under the combined stimulus of the exponential growth of computers and modern communications technology, and there is no single battle management system currently in use by all the Services. Thus, JWARN faces enormous obstacles to achieving broad interoperability.

The Navy should pay close attention to JWARN, since such a capability is sorely needed. As a participant in the joint process, it should ensure that JWARN is compatible with whatever Navy battle management systems are currently in use and that it is as free of “stovepipe” limitations as possible. As network-centric concepts evolve into future battle management systems with ForceNet, the Navy must ensure that chemical and biological sensors of all types are fully included in the sensor grid concepts from the start and not added as an afterthought.

SUMMARY OF NON-MEDICAL S&T FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE FIVE COMMODITY AREAS

Box 4.1 provides a summary of the findings and recommendations in this chapter. Recommendations are directed to the Navy’s technical community, principally at the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Sea Systems Command, involved in the Joint CBD Program.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

BOX 4.1
Summary of Findings and Recommendations in the Five Commodity Areas

Commodity Area: Contamination Avoidance

Chemical Point Detection

Findings

  • Existing contamination avoidance (CA) point sensor technology is relatively mature for vapor phase threats.

  • Decontamination requires sensors with characteristics different from those being developed for CA—and little work is addressing that need.

Recommendations for the Navy

  • Develop system concepts for CA balanced through risk assessment with post-exposure consequence management.

  • Work with the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) Program to reconsider the requirements and technologies for decontamination applications.

  • Institute a “tech watch” by the Office of Naval Research of novel developments in microfabricated concepts suitable for very small dosage monitoring and multiple, distributed sensor arrays for area or perimeter monitoring.

Biological Point Detection

Findings

  • No biological weapons sensor (or sensor network) can realize the goal of CA in the foreseeable future.

  • Most biological weapons sensors are either antibody- or nucleic acid-based.

    • Both types need more capability to detect and identify a broader range of biological warfare agents.

    • Antibody-based instruments have had significant field use, but false-positive issues remain.

    • Nucleic acid approaches are promising, but sample preparation and overall cost challenges need to be addressed.

    • Other techniques, such as mass spectrometry, have promise, but are a long way from being moved into the field.

  • The Joint CBD Program focus on CA fails to address risks and responses end to end, and as a result, science and technology investments in biodetection do not provide a balance among CA, exposure diagnosis, and contamination assessment/decontamination.

 

Recommendations for the Navy

  • Undertake a combined analytic and experimental evaluation to prioritize additional investments in biological point detection science and technology.

  • To enhance sensor performance, expand the number of biological agents that can be detected and improve sample preparation for representative naval environments.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Chemical Standoff Detection

Findings

  • Both active and passive concepts have been developed, but grow rapidly in size, complexity, and cost as the range requirements are increased.

  • The Navy’s current chemical weapons standoff detection system, the AN/ KAS-1, is neither user-friendly nor robust to the full range of agents and probable background.

Recommendation for the Navy

  • Fully support the current development programs in the Joint CBD Program, paying particular attention to naval operating environment and false-positive issues.

Biological Standoff Detection

Findings

  • Biological weapons standoff detection is difficult because of the characteristically broad and generally featureless spectral signals of biological molecules, coupled to the low concentration of agent needed for an effective attack and its presence among higher concentrations of naturally occurring background.

  • Ultraviolet lidar fluorescence, although inherently short range, may have some potential for shipboard warning, but more likely, for decontamination assessment.

Recommendation for the Navy

  • Evaluate requirements—and campaign within the Joint CBD Program—for a real-time, short-range system with good classification/identification capabilities to detect the presence of biological warfare agents.

Commodity Areas: Individual Protection and Collective Protection

Findings

  • Sustained military operations in full protective individual gear are unlikely, owing to heat and respiratory loads. This will remain the case for some time.

  • Current Navy practice apparently dictates either no individual protective gear or full protection. In response to some asymmetric attacks, intermediate levels of protection may be acceptable and could minimize the impact on operations.

  • The availability of individual protective equipment within the Navy is severely limited if one considers the expanding needs associated with protecting not only deployed forces but also personnel at bases and shore installations, ports outside the continental United States, and civilian and logistics support.

  • Adequate protection against the broad spectrum of toxic industrial chemicals and materials that might be employed in asymmetric warfare is currently lacking.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×

Recommendations for the Navy

  • Prioritize the acquisition and distribution of additional protective garments and masks to the fleet, bases, installations, and port facilities.

  • Acknowledge the operational need for several levels of individual protection, consistent with varying levels of risk, and develop the appropriate guidelines for commanders.

  • Champion the development, testing, and fielding of regenerative filters for collective protection systems. Adapt portable protective systems for vessels without collective protection systems and at fixed naval sites.

Commodity Area: Decontamination

Findings

  • Effective decontamination materials and procedures should be viewed by the Navy as critical parts of a risk management–based, layered defense against chemical and biological agents.

  • No guidelines exist for what are acceptable or “safe” levels of chemical or biological agent remaining after decontamination.

  • No field instruments are capable of measuring to acceptable long-term exposure levels the concentration of a chemical or biological agent on decontaminated surfaces.

  • Little data exist on chemical or biological agent fates, but such information is critical for guiding an intelligent approach to decontaminating a site and providing information about the long-term safety of decontaminated surfaces.

  • Little data are available on the health effects of long-term exposures to lowlevel concentrations of either chemical or biological warfare agents.

  • Progress is being made in research and development for significantly improved decontaminating reagents (low toxicity, low corrosiveness, environmentally benign) for both chemical and biological agents. In particular, the Joint Services Fixed Site Decontamination Program is addressing the critical Navy need for a low-toxicity decontamination system for airbases, ports, and fixed base logistics nodes. The program is scheduled to deliver nontoxic and noncorrosive decontamination materials and application equipment.

  • Toxins, new-generation nerve agents, and toxic industrial chemicals have chemical properties different from those of traditional chemical agents. Fielded decontamination materials may not be effective against some of these threats.

  • Development work in the commercial sector and in other federal agency laboratories has resulted in or will result in promising new products that may be good fits to Navy decontamination needs.

Recommendations for the Navy

  • Develop doctrine for decontamination that sets risk-based guidelines, procedures, and methods, standards of cleanliness, and sources of technical guidance that apply to ships and shore-based facilities.

  • To support doctrine development:

  • Undertake studies to set the appropriate levels for short- and long-term exposures.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×
  • Building on work by special units in the Marine Corps, develop equipment and test procedures that become a part of the decontamination toolkit.

  • Investigate the use of seawater washdown for the decontamination of Navy facilities enjoying ready access to seawater.

  • Undertake agent fate studies to understand the consequences of the interactions of agents with surfaces, coatings, and subsurfaces common to Navy ships and shore facilities before and after washdown.

  • Explore the options for decontaminants emerging from other agencies and the commercial sector in addition to participation in the Joint CBD Program.

Commodity Area: Modeling and Simulation

Findings

  • Modeling and simulation tools are needed that will enable a commander to estimate exposure levels as a function of location and identify the areas that will likely suffer further contamination.

  • Accurate estimates of plume dispersion and deposition of agent are unlikely using real-time computations.

  • The accuracy of models will ultimately be limited by practical considerations, such as uncertainties both in the input data (time and precise location of release, initial plume characteristics) and in the local meteorological conditions.

  • High-fidelity models are a useful tool for predicting flow over and around the superstructure of naval vessels under a variety of meteorological conditions; as such, they provide useful guidance for optimal placement of onboard sensors. Less work has been done on predicting flow at ports and bases.

  • Threats from industrial manufacturing sites or those using industrial chemicals are viable and potentially crippling to operations. Relatively small-scale releases involving toxic industrial chemicals could have a major impact on operational capability if executed with precision.

  • For biological attacks, the time lag between exposure and symptoms and the current lack of reliable, deployable sensors suggest that a model-based system formulated from the perspective of tracking agent dispersion and distribution and the location of the exposed individuals may be the most useful approach for some time.

  • The possibility of genetically altered agents suggests that model-based approaches to identify and track biological attacks will be needed in the long term as well, since the sensors may not be robust to these new agents.

  • Emerging efforts to link chemical fate prediction and/or measurement with operational decision-making tools (battlefield management information systems) is a promising direction for new modeling and simulation efforts.

Recommendations for the Navy

  • Use plume dispersion and deposition models in conjunction with sensor arrays to give an operationally predictive capability rather than trying to improve the accuracy of input plume and meteorological parameters, the details of which are likely to remain uncertain.

  • Invest in high-fidelity modeling of releases in and near ports and bases to guide sensor placement and to form the basis for simplified operational tools.

  • Develop discrete event simulations focused on elucidating the operational bottlenecks during a recovery operation to assist decision making in the face of uncertainty.

Suggested Citation:"4 Non-Medical Science and Technology: Specific Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2004. Naval Forces' Defense Capabilities Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Threats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11034.
×
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U.S. naval forces must be prepared to respond to a broad array of threats. Of increasing importance are those from chemical and biological warfare (CW and BW). To help review its current state of preparedness, the Chief of Naval Operations asked the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the U.S. Navy's defense capabilities against CW and BW threats. In particular to what extent are they being developed to enable naval forces to sense and analyze quickly the presence of chemical and biological agents, withstand or avoid exposure to such agents, deal with contamination under a broad spectrum of operational conditions, and over what period will these capabilities be realized. This report presents the results of that assessment. It provides an overview of the potential threats, and an evaluation of the Navy's operations, non-medical programs, and medical countermeasures designed to confront those threats. The report also presents a series of general and specific findings and recommendations based on these assessments.

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