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Supporting Discussion

The perception of the US homeland as invulnerable to direct attack has changed.

And, it has changed to such a degree that asymmetric threats to the homeland have

become among the most critical national security issues of our day. Consider President

George W. Bush’s recent statement that, “we have no higher priority than the defense of

our people against a terrorist attack."1

The inherent vulnerability of the US is not what is new. The former Soviet

Union’s nuclear threat, as discussed previously, obviously presented the potential for

immense destruction within the US. What is new is the perception of increased

likelihood of attack by asymmetric means. Fueling that perception is evidence of

growing proliferation of WMD agents worldwide, enhanced technological innovation of

WMD delivery means, and scattered but well publicized WMD use by terrorists in recent

years. These are among the reasons why participants at the Fletcher Conference

concluded that future missions for the armed forces are not likely “to resemble those of

the Cold War.” “New requirements,” they argue, “such as missile defense, homeland

defense, and information operations” must be at the center of debate regarding America’s

future security.2

Conclusion Two

WMD weapons are routinely lumped together as one threat while they are in fact

very different in terms of challenges and effects. Therefore, US policy and planning

working against these threats face broader integration challenges.

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