The government is not prepared for every type of

The
catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 have shown the nation the dangers
that terrorist organizations can pose and the lengths they are willing to go to
spread their message and agenda. The United States was unprepared for planes
being hijacked and used as weapons in an attack. Though the concept for the
attacks was not a surprise, no plan for such an event was ever made and no
preparations were in place to prevent it. After the attacks of 9/11, numerous
changes were enacted to prevent airplane from being hijacked and used as
weapons again. But the outcome was the same. The failure to plan for such an
attack led to catastrophe.

Since
9/11 the term weapons of mass destruction, or WMD’s, has floated through the
media and news reports. WMD’s are weapons that have the capability of causing
death or serious injury on a massive scale. WMD’s typically refer to weapons of
a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive nature. Though
these threats can be identified, the government is not prepared for every type
of attack with a WMD. This is especially true when looking at biological
weapons. The United States government is not prepared to deal with a massive
attack from a biological weapon.

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Biological
weapons are weaponized viruses and diseases that are targeted and released to cause
the most destruction. They could be aerosolized versions of deadly diseases
released over major U.S. cities, or deadly substances being introduced into the
food supply.  In many cases, biological
weapons can be more deadly than a nuclear bomb. A few kilograms of anthrax
could kill as many people as the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima (Siegrist). Though the United States has made strides to
prepare for a possible biological attack, they are not enough. This is largely
due to restraints on equipment that is needed to prepare for such an attack.

Part of the reason a biological weapon would be so deadly is they
are very hard to detect. The attack likely wouldn’t be discovered until the
casualties were already mounting. The equipment needed for early detection,
such as pathogen sensors, is largely unavailable at this time. Prevention isn’t
the only issue, there is also treatment. Many biological agents are difficult
to treat once symptoms appear. To make matters worse, many of the medicines
needed for treatment have a limited shelf life and can’t be stockpiled. Most
medical facilities are not prepared for a mass biological attack. Though the
National Disaster Medical System has access to a larger number of hospital beds
across the nation to be used in such events, they are not all equipped with the
necessary equipment to keep someone suffering from a biological attack alive. (Siegrist)

Biological weapons are not as easy to make as other types of
weapons, though. There is no ‘cookbook’ for them. They require a technical
expertise and knowledge that isn’t widely available. But that information is
becoming easier to access and is spreading. The most difficult aspect would be acquiring
the sample culture for the virus or disease being used, but this is far from
impossible. There are more than 1,500 biological culture libraries in the
world, and even more research institutions and natural sources. After the
sample is acquired and cultivated, there are no unique ingredients to make the
viruses weaponized. All of the equipment needed to develop the biological
weapon has legitimate commercial and research purposes. They only need a way to
disseminate them. A facility producing biological weapons could be small, inexpensive
and unassuming.

Thankfully, the government is actively supporting research into
medicine and vaccines that will be needed in case of a biological attack, and
is developing emergency response plans should an attack occur.

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