SOCOM’s Expanding C-WMD Mission, First Responder Safety in Terrorism Incidents

Topics in this issue include risks to first responders in terrorist incidents, best practices in chemical safety and security, and SOCOM’s expanding role in counter-WMD operations.

In This Article


Risks to Emergency Medical Responders at Terrorist Incidents

As the threat of international terrorism rises, there is an increasing requirement to provide evidence-based information and training for the emergency personnel who will respond to terrorist incidents. This study reviews the published medical literature to identify the hazards experienced by emergency responders who have attended previous terrorist incidents. Critical Care Journal >>

California: Fire Chief Addresses PTSD in Santa Maria First Responders

Post-traumatic stress disorder is something that often goes overlooked in firefighters and paramedics. Santa Maria City Fire Chief Leonard Champion is addressing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the city’s own first responders. KSBY >>

Male Firefighters May Not Be at Increased Risk for Divorce

People who choose high-risk careers are often warned of the high risk for divorce that goes along with their profession. But the subject hadn’t been extensively studied until recently. Researchers found that female firefighters had a divorce rate of 32.1 percent, compared to 10.4 percent of women in the general population. Male firefighters, however, showed no such effect, and in fact had rates similar to men in other, less dangerous professions. Psych Central >>

New Report Addresses Volunteer Firefighters’ Safety and Health Issue

A new report from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Volunteer Fire Council aims to help volunteer departments nationwide address several important issues. Titled “Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service,” the report addresses topics that range from the culture to recruitment and retention, funding, personal health, and safety protocols. Occupational Health and Safety >>


UN Resolution Could Sanction Syrians for Chemical Attacks

A draft U.N. resolution obtained by The Associated Press would impose sanctions on 11 Syrians and 10 Syrian organizations and companies allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in the war-ravaged country.  The proposed Security Council resolution, drafted by Britain and France, would also ban all countries from supplying Syria’s government with helicopters, which investigators have determined were used in chemical attacks. Associated Press >>

Needs and Best Practices on Chemical Safety and Security Management

This report is a summary of information provided by Member State focusing on existing or needed tools, guidance, and best practices in the area of chemical safety and security management (including those related to chemical industry and laboratories). Sixteen State Parties to the OPCW responded to the Secretariat’s request and provided inputs. OPCW >>

Derek Chollet: Why Obama Got It Right on the Syria ‘Red Line’

“I don’t think any of us should regret the fact that we got 1,300 tons of chemical weapons out of Syria.” President Obama and the infamous “red line” he drew on chemical weapons use by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad are Exhibit A in what detractors call Obama’s feckless foreign policy and American weakness. But to Derek Chollet, the opposite is true. Washington Post >>


Rick Perry, as Energy Secretary, May Be Pressed to Resume Nuclear Tests

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter post last week that the United States must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” provoked confusion and anxiety that intensified the next day when he added, in a television interview, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” NY Times >>

Experts: North Korea May Be Developing a Dirty Bomb Drone

A Korean think tank claims that North Korea is developing a drone capable of spreading lethal amounts of radioactivity over a wide area, sickening people and making areas unlivable. If true, the weapon is the latest in a series of nuclear or radiological weapons being developed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime. Popular Mechanics >>

World War Three, By Mistake

Harsh political rhetoric, combined with the vulnerability of the nuclear command-and-control system, has made the risk of global catastrophe greater than ever. My book “Command and Control” explores how the systems devised to govern the use of nuclear weapons, like all complex technological systems, are inherently flawed. They are designed, built, installed, maintained, and operated by human beings. New Yorker >>

Which Countries Have Nuclear Weapons and How Big Their Arsenals Are

Nine countries are thought to possess nuclear weapons. Israel has not officially acknowledged its program, but the Israeli arsenal is widely understood to consist of about 80 weapons. NY Times >>

Heavy Water Loophole in the Iran Deal

To date, if the stocks in Iran and Oman are counted together (a reasonable view since Iran owns and controls both stocks), Iran has far exceeded the nuclear deal’s stated limit of maintaining a stock of only 130 metric tons of heavy water. Yet, this loophole was sanctioned by the executive body of the Iran deal, the Joint Commission. Despite such generous treatment, Iran has even so twice violated the narrow limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water it can hold inside Iran since the deal started in January 2016. Institute for Science and International Security >>

New Mexico OKs Reopening Troubled Nuclear Dump

New Mexico regulators have approved restarting normal operations at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, a major step for U.S. officials aiming to reopen the facility. The repository has been closed since a radiation release in February 2014 contaminated much of the underground disposal area and brought to light gaps in management and oversight. ABC News >>


Mapping Emergency Responders’ Current Procedures in the Event of a CBRNE Incident

Emergency personnel from other geographical locations may be recruited to provide additional support to a CBRNE incident, so having a nationally recognized standard procedure for each emergency service is essential to allow smooth interaction between regional emergency crews. Loughborough University >>

What is the Value of Health Emergency Preparedness Exercises?

Emergency exercises involving the health community are considered an important and integral part of emergency preparedness activities. However, little is known about whether these exercises are effective at improving individual and/or organisational preparedness for responding to emergencies. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction >>


Special Operations Command Takes Lead Role in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

U.S. Special Operations Command will take a new, leading role coordinating the Pentagon’s effort to counter weapons of mass destruction, reinvigorating a long-running debate about how the U.S. military should handle threats posed by everything from nuclear weapons to chemical agents such as mustard and sarin. Stars & Stripes >>

Crowds Pack Out Australian Cathedral at Centre of Alleged Terrorist Plot

Large crowds showed up to Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral despite it being the target of an alleged Christmas Day bombing plot. More than 1,500 churchgoers had filled the cathedral for midnight service, forcing latecomers into the forecourt. “There was a steady stream of people coming in and out of the cathedral and in the end I had to come out and give the final blessing to people on the forecourt,” Loewe said on Sunday. But they didn’t want to leave so the 90-strong gospel choir gave another performance at 1.50am. The Guardian >>


Long-Term Biodosimetry Redux

This paper revisits and reiterates the needs, purposes and requirements of biodosimetric assays for long-term dose and health risk assessments. While the most crucial need for biodosimetric assays is to guide medical response for radiation accidents, the value of such techniques for improving our understanding of radiation health risk by supporting epidemiological studies is significant. Radiation Protection Dosimetry >>

The Hyperspectral and Smartphone Technology in CBRNE Countermeasures and Defence

This paper studies how two novel technologies, hyperspectral technology and smartphone technology, can be used in CBRNE countermeasures and defence. The experiments with hyperspectral technology focus on the detection of explosives, chemical warfare agents (CWAs), biofluids and other forensic samples, whereas the tests with smartphone technology deal with mobile emergency alerting, command and control, public warning and the information management of CBRNE incidents. JYX Findland >>

Burgeoning Applications of MS and GC in Narcotics and Explosives Detection

The use of mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography (GC) and the two in tandem in the detection and analysis of narcotics and explosives is well established, but the methods are becoming more refined and being applied in association with portable systems. The latter is achieving growing popularity in spite of drawbacks. Scientist Live >>

In Vivo EPR Tooth Biodosimetry for Triage Following a Large-Scale Radiation Event

Several important recent advances in the development and evolution of in vivo Tooth Biodosimetry using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) allow its performance to meet or exceed the U.S. targeted requirements for accuracy and ease of operation and throughput in a large-scale radiation event. Radiation Protection Dosimetry >>


Myths of Radiation: Communicating in Radiation Emergencies

This course introduces participants to some common myths of radiation and identifies communications strategies to combat these and other myths. The training uses Person-On-The-Street interviews to identify the myths and features a discussion between risk communication and radiation subject matter experts to set the record straight. CDC >>

Step Into Houston Fire Department’s Train Graveyard Training Grounds

At first glance, they appear to be historic railroad trains — but step inside these cool locomotives on any given day and you will find HFD’s brave first responders training on how to keep us all safe during emergencies. With Houston being the Petrochemical Capital of the World, Houston’s Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team has become a leader in training best safety practices to HAZMAT teams across the globe. ABC 13 Houston >>


Most Read ‘War on the Rocks’ Articles of 2016

This year may have been a dog’s breakfast, but it sure provided grist for some powerful and – dare we say – important articles on strategy, defense, and foreign affairs. Below we list our top 25 articles published in 2016. War on the Rocks >>

Get Your Free 2017 Preparedness Calendar Now

Featuring adorable animals and preparedness tips, the free, downloadable calendar makes a great addition to your bulletin board, office wall or refrigerator. American Public Health Association >>

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