The world at risk


The topic I chose for my paper is something that I have a great deal of knowledge in. I am a Team Sergeant for 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). In dealing with International Terrorism and assorted levels of conflict; this is our mission:

The 82nd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear teams will deploy on short notice by land, sea or air with minimal preparation at any level of conflict, to recognize and collect items of CBRN technical intelligence, and report on High Value Targets. The teams can operate in a permissive, semi-permissive and non-permissive environment for extended periods of time. The teams can provide CBRN expertise in Hostile environments in support of special operations forces or support of strategic, operational, or tactical objectives.

The World at Risk report is a recommend report of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007(P.L. 110-53). This report was mandated and a Commission was born headed by Senator Bob Graham. The Commissions direction is guided on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The Commission was directed to provide solid recommendations to explain future threats. The direction given to the Commission by Congress was to explore hundreds of possibilities through investigation and interviews. They were given specific guidance and formats, within six months, any and all of the United States and its supporter's activities, initiatives, and programs to prevent weapons of mass destruction manufacturing/ weaponizing (proliferation) and terrorism.

The commission built a team that consisted of more than two twenty four professionals and subject matter experts (SME's) from across the national security, intelligence, and law enforcement communities of the United States and other countries. The Commission conducted interviews more than two hundred and fifty government officials and nongovernmental experts. They commission conducted ten meetings and one public hearing. Finally, the Commission found several vulnerabilities in areas where the risks to the United States and other countries are increasing. The crossroads of terrorism and proliferation are located in poorly governed states or failed states especially in areas of Pakistan. This open source report is the first step in combating the proliferation issues and it's time for the public to participate in protecting life.

In every terrorist strike anywhere in the world, to every innocent life lost must be added thousands more who were just hours away from having been at that ground zero, In those moments of danger, we are all, first and foremost, citizens of a world at risk, with the common cause of protecting the innocent and preserving our way of life, Graham et al. (2008).

The United States and its supporters are at risk of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or weapons of mass effects (WME). Terrorist have proven that they will stop at nothing to create panic or strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. Osama bin Laden has said that obtaining these weapons is a religious duty and is reported to have sought to perpetrate another Hiroshima type event. As the world changes, so should the thought process of handling global events, weather big or small. The Commission was mandated with advising ways of slowing down proliferation. The Commission zeroed in on two categories of WMD/ WME, nuclear and biological weapons because nuclear material can be obtained and biological agents are inexpensive.

Nuclear and biological proliferation will increase the possibility of a terrorist attack. This is explained in two categories; first, it increases the number of countries/ states that could already have nuclear or biological weapons themselves or could knowingly or unknowingly render materials into the possession of terrorist who might use WMD/ WME against the United States and its supporters. The more proliferation/ manufacturing of these deadly devices from non-states, increases the manufacturing in other states in the attempt to protect themselves. This becomes a vicious cycle that increases the overall production of WMD. Second, these devices will not be secured properly, which means they could be stolen by terrorists or by anyone who intends to sell them to those who would do the United States harm or international communities harm, Graham et al. (2008).

The World at Risk commission investigated two previous reports that pertained to terrorist attacks. The reports were the Joint Inquiry into the Intelligence Committees activities before and after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the National Commission on Terrorists attacks upon the United States ( 9/11 Commission). The reports built by these commissions outlined clearly to the United States residents the events that led to the failure of discovery that terrorists, operating from Afghanistan, were infiltrating the United States to use a most unconventional resource, commercial airplanes, as weapons that would create panic and kill thousands of people. The World at Risk commission looks at these two reports and considers globalization. Globalization means that distant neighbors around the globe are now not so distant due mainly because of technological advances.

The United States still exerts tradition power, but traditional power is less effective than it used to be due to the new threats and globalization. With extreme technological advances people anywhere in our world can connect instantly with one another and with information. Money, transactions, information is shared and instructions are issued, and orders are given with one stroke of the key. Technologies are so advanced, with the use of the Internet that terrorist are able to encrypt messages inside of photos by embedding the message in a layer of that photo. Using various methods of technology terrorist do not have to step foot in a production facility or even touch currency to facilitate the production of WMD/ WME. The most venerable is soft targets, which are defined as financial institution, communications, and transportation systems. They are defined as such because they are relatively simple to attack and difficult to defend.

The idea of the commissioned report is to clearly define for the American public and its supporter's of the threat it faces if terrorists acquire WMD/ WME. The report also makes recommendations for active strategies that the United States can undertake unilaterally with the world state actors to make our life and globe a more peaceful existence. The World at Risk report also states the desire to have open dialog between government and citizens in safeguarding our land and for all to be educated about and developing deliberate responses to potential terrorist attacks.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has spent billions of dollars securing nuclear weapons, materials, and technology in Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union and has introduced some new counter proliferation measures, Graham et al. (2008). Also during that period, the world has also witnessed a new era of proliferation: North Korea tested a nuclear weapon; Iran has been rapidly developing capabilities that will enable it to build nuclear weapons; Dr. A. Q. Khan, of Pakistan, led a nuclear proliferation network that was a one stop shop for aspiring nuclear weapons countries, Graham et al. (2008); and nuclear arms rivalries have intensified in the Middle East and Asia. The situation in the Middle East and Asia must be monitored because proliferation could prompt nuclear uprising and even nuclear use at the very time that the United States and Russia are trying to reduce their nuclear devices and stockpiles.

All the while, biotechnology has spread globally. At the same time that biotechnology global advances has benefited humanity by the advances in medicine and in agriculture, it has also increased the availability of pathogens and technologies that can be used for sinister purposes. Many biological pathogens and nuclear materials around the globe are poorly secured and thus vulnerable to theft by those who would put these materials to harmful use, or would sell them on the black market to potential terrorists Alibek, K. (1999).

The types of Nuclear or radiological weaponization and disbursement could be from an illicit nuclear weapon bought, stolen, or otherwise originating from a nuclear state, or a weapon fabricated by a terrorist group from illegally obtained fissile nuclear weapons material that produces a nuclear explosion. The components of a stolen weapon or from scratch using nuclear material (plutonium or highly enriched uranium) which produces the same physical and medical effects as nuclear weapon explosion. The results are catastrophic loss of life, destruction of infrastructure, and contamination of a very large area. If nuclear yield is not achieved, the result would likely resemble a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) in which fissile weapons material was dispensed locally Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), (2003).

Biological weapons are known as the perfect potential weapon: they are inexpensive, relatively easy to manufacture, and can inflict extremely high casualties on the enemy. To give an example Ricin, which is a very toxic biological agent is made from castor beans. Wild castor beans are found in numerous places in the United States. In the wrong hands this inexpensive castor bean can cause major destruction of life. In fact, nothing beats a biological weapon in pure killing power: the right weapon applied at the right time can literally annihilate an entire population. Further, such a weapon has the tremendous side benefit of not destroying infrastructure. Valuable buildings and capital are left standing and it is only life that is destroyed. The conqueror can wait, test the environment, and move in and make use of the enemy's houses, televisions and recreational vehicles. These weapons also deliver a potent psychological element: fear. Fear of disease is fundamental, particularly disease that manifests itself in a widespread epidemic. Thus the mere presence of a weaponized disease in the ranks of an army or populace can create an extraordinary amount of panic and chaos, far above and beyond the actual mortality of the sickness itself. Such chaos in the ranks of the enemy is very useful to the military.

According to the World at Risk report all roads would intersect in Pakistan, as far as WMD and future terrorism. Pakistan has nuclear devices and historical data confirms of failing states or unstable governments, and parts of its territory are known safe havens for al Qaeda and other terrorists. Pakistan's and India's relationship is bleak at best, its buildup of nuclear devices or weapons can lead to a nuclear arms race in South Asia that could lead to a nuclear conflict. Some considered Pakistan as an ally to the United States, but the possibility of a terrorist attack against the United States based from Pakistan seems factual from the World at risk Report.

The World at Risk Commission has singled out Pakistan for special attention in the report, as they believe it poses a serious challenge to America's short term and medium term national security interests, Graham et al. (2008). Many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the United States is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. The Commission believes that the center of proliferation and terrorism should be considered as Pakistan, Graham et al. (2008).

According to the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism Activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are on the rise and is spreading on a global scale . Obviously this means that the international security communities must grow both in education and numbers as well. Since 9/11 there has been an increase in the number of groups that have associated or aligned themselves with al Qaeda which is the main terrorist threat to the United States and the perpetrators of 9/11. There is to date a vast amount of terrorist groups, some self proclaimed and some not.

Though Foreign/ United States policy and strategy progression is slow and is not keeping pace with the growing risks. In the area of counterterrorism, our government has built and implemented new initiatives since 9/11, but its focus has been mainly limited to defense, intelligence, and homeland security programs and operations. The World at Risk commission also believes that unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013, Graham et al. (2008).


  • BENNIE G., T., CHAIRMAN, & HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY, C. (n.d). WMD COMMISSIONERS AND HOMELAND SECURITY. FDCH Congressional Testimony, Retrieved from Military & Government Collection database.
  • Department of Defense, (2003). Multi-service TTP's for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Operations. (Vol. FM 3-11,). Washington D.C.: (2003). Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
  • The PSI was launched in 2003 to increase international cooperation in interdicting shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials. As of October 2008, 92 nations have formally committed to PSI participation as partner states. (2004). United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.
  • UNSCR 1540 is a 2004 resolution that establishes binding obligations on all UN member states to take and enforce measures against WMD proliferation, such as developing the laws and regulations they need to criminalize proliferation, improving physical protection and safeguards at nuclear facilities, strengthening export controls, and developing a robust security culture focused on reducing the risk of theft or diversion of nuclear materials or technology. (2005). Bratislava Nuclear Security Initiative.
  • President Vladimir Putin and President George W. Bush agreed to this initiative on nuclear security cooperation at a February 2005 summit in Bratislava, the Republic of Slovakia. The Bratislava Nuclear Security Initiative is focused on five key areas: emergency response cooperation, sharing best practices to promote nuclear security, enhancing nuclear security cultures in countries, research reactor conversion and fuel return, and promoting the implementation of UNSCR 1540. A senior U.S.-Russia group chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the Director of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) oversees this work and provides progress reports to the Presidents every six months. (2006). Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).
  • The GICNT was launched by the United States and Russia on July 15, 2006, to expand and accelerate the development of their partnership capacity to combat the global threat of nuclear terrorism. The GICNT is open to other partner nations, which currently number 75.
  • Alibek, K. (1999). Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.
  • Department of Defense, (2004). Complete Guide to Biological Weapons and Terrorism. Washington D.C.:
  • International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP. (2005). Protecting People Against Radiation Exposure in the Event of a Radiological Attack (ICRP Publication 96), International Commission on Radiological Protection, ((ICRP Publication 96) ed.).
  • National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). (2005). Key Elements of Preparing Emergency Responders for Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism ((NCRP Commentary No. 19) ed.).

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