Joint Base Andrews


AFDW Counter CBRN Operational Applications Center stands up

By | May 23, 2007

ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- The threat from weapons of mass destruction, specifically chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons, has emerged as one of the most critical challenges facing the United States and its allies today. 

Due to the combination of their destructive power, lingering effects, disproportionate psychological impact, and growing availability, CBRN weapons are attractive asymmetric alternatives for adversary state and non-state actors to use against U.S. forces or interests. The Air Force is enhancing capabilities to treat CBRN weapons as a threat to the environments in which the Air Force must operate, rather than as a specific type of operation. 

These challenges become significantly more complicated in the National Capital Region. The NCR is our nation's political and military center of gravity, possessing a high density of political and military assets. The NCR has an unending need for subject matter experts to plan for, prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. 

Understanding the hazard environment is essential to mitigating the effects. The Air Force District of Washington's newly formed Counter-CBRN Operational Applications Center meets this need for the Air Force. 

The COAC was formally established April 16 and is located at the headquarters, Air Force District of Washington, Andrews Air Force Base, bldg. 1535. 

"In the event of a terrorist threat, the COAC will play a role in maintaining AFDW installations as response platforms in support of critical Air Force missions," said Maj. Gen. Robert Smolen, AFDW commander. "In turn, we will be able to maintain our ability to support Joint Forces Headquarters." 

The threat of terrorist chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks remains high on the list of the nation's concerns. The AFDW outlined these concerns in the AFDW strategic plan, then went one step further by improving its capability to prevent, detect, and mitigate CBRN attacks within the NCR. 

The COAC will have direct operational applications. For example, through AFDW's Counter-CBRN Response Force, the COAC will support local installations with specific reach-back capabilities in the event of a terrorist incident involving CBRN materials.
"Partnering with other AFDW CBRN organizations along with other agency partners in the NCR helped us develop a viable concept of operations for a cross-functional Air Force CBRN response force" said Col. Donna Hudson, COAC director. "We will synergize the functional expertise of the CBRN communities into an integrated response package capable of supporting AFDW's installations and missions." 

Members of the AFDW COAC team will be available at the 2007 Joint Services Open House to answer questions.