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The term is “right of boom” – it refers to a timeline of a disaster, and what happens after. Even with all the planning, protection and preventative measures in place, someone has to be ready to deal with what happens after. They have to be calm, collected, knowledgeable, and ready to head towards ground zero when a WMD disaster strikes – their actions can minimize the damage, mitigate the effects, and save lives.
We are prepared to deal with the full spectrum of WMD threats, but it also turns out that our expertise is immensely helpful in dealing with disasters when no weapons are involved. Industrial chemical incidents, natural biological hazards, and accidents involving radiological or nuclear materials – they may have happened accidentally, but the results are just as unpredictable and deadly as an intentional attack with WMD.
When an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa threatened to grow out of control, we responded with medical countermeasures and innovative technologies. When a tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown near Fukushima, our consequence management experts were in Japan hours later. When war in Libya left WMD stockpiles vulnerable, our elimination experts destroyed its chemical weapons arsenal. And when warfighters on the battlefield come up against a cache of WMD, their commanders call our operations center and Reachback – the DoD’s “9-1-1” for WMD emergencies, where nuclear physicists, EOD experts, meteorologists, chemical engineers, microbiologists and other Ph.D-level experts are able to analyze, model, predict and advise what to do now and what to do next.
A deliberate WMD attack would have horrible consequences, and we know a natural disaster or industrial accident could be just as devastating. But for the same reason every city has firefighters, we are prepared to respond when the unthinkable happens. We cannot prevent every bad thing from happening, but responding quickly is necessary to Making the World Safer.