Collaboration key to combating terrorism

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US has harnessed much resources and time to combat the potential for such a devastating event occuring again.

However, CBRNe (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) are four hazards that are posing an ongoing threat for the US and other nations due to their capability to cause huge damage and loss of life.

Rick Nicklas, Preparedness Program Assessment Branch Chief, National Preparedness Division, FEMA Region 1, Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a speaker at the marcus evans 6th Annual CBRNe Conference taking place in Dallas, TX on January 25-27, 2011.

He believes CBRNe is such a pressing global threat for the simple reason that it is a very realistic one.

“The biggest thing about the CBRNe is the threat is viable – it’s out there. It’s not only a threat to the US, it’s a threat to the world because if you want to do damage, if you want to do bad things to good people, to countries and to systems, the use of CBRNe-type tactics or techniques are very user friendly, for lack of a better term.”

Al-Qaida and related groups have expressed a serious interest in using CBRNe. Given this stated desire and apparent capability to conduct a CBRNe terrorist attack, the militant group has not yet launched an attack with such weapons. Nicklas says this is down to an absence of political will.

“I don’t think there is a full political will. It’s not that they don’t have the skills or the people in place. Al-Qaida is an international network, which is relying on second and third parties for safe havens. I don’t think that they’ve got the go ahead or are willing to undergo the repercussions on a worldwide basis if they use a chemical, radiological or a nuclear attack. That’s not to say that a splinter group or a rogue element, if it falls into their hands, won’t use it,” he warns.

The US has learned crucial lessons that will help secure the nation in the future, according to Nicklas.

“The biggest lessons that we’ve learned is collaboration. Not only internally within government but with government agencies from various levels in the United States. On an international basis countries are reaching out to each other and asking Homeland Security, law enforcement and emergency management and Department of Health etc to work more closely together on what we see as common threats regardless of the country. So that collaboration is not only on a local level, it’s also on an international level. That’s one thing that has come from this.”

The US has the ability to prevent a major terrorist attack again, he believes.We have built the capabilities where if we must respond to an event we respond as quickly and as professionally as possible to mitigate the effects of whether it be a natural disaster or manmade terrorist event.”

The marcus evans 6th Annual CBRNe Conference is taking place in Dallas, TX on January 25-27, 2011.