The Pentagon sees stronger allied partnerships as key to preventing chemical and biological attacks, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official.
Agreements with the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to work together to thwart "the unique threats that are coming our way" are even more critical as defense budgets decline globally, the officials said.
"We recognize, more so than ever, it's our partnerships that's going to enable us to field the best capabilities for our forces, for our nations working together," the official said Dec. 8. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of topic.
The Pentagon is facing a more than $450 billion reduction to planned spending over the next decade. It is unclear how the Pentagon budget reductions will impact the chemical and biological division. However, "there's a shared understanding that the [weapons of mass destruction] threat is very real, very serious and it is still a very high priority."
To that end, Pentagon officials are conducting a "strategic review and analysis" of chemical and biological defense programs, which kicked off in August, the official said. To address the spending reductions, officials realize "we needed to relook the whole" chemical and biological defense enterprise.
In addition, the Pentagon has started participating in a series of exercises with South Korea that are "taking a look at the bio defense problem in that region," the official said. The drill uses a "whole-of-government approach" and includes Seoul's Ministry of Defense, Center for Disease Control, law enforcement and others.
"We're helping our colleagues there go through some of the learning experiences we had in the United States in that interagency environment," the official said. "It's a new challenge for them, but the threat is ever more present on the peninsula today."