The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) coordinates the FBI’s WMD program through a multifaceted approach that addresses all areas of the WMD incident spectrum from prevention through response. It provides leadership, guidance, and expertise to the U.S. government on WMD issues and influencing the development of interagency policy, plans, and strategy. At the same time, WMDD is responsible for coordinating WMD operational efforts through the FBI’s field-based WMD coordinators and counterproliferation coordinators. To best address the many requirements of the mission, the FBI approaches the WMD issue in terms of four major functional categories: preparedness, countermeasures, investigations/operations, and intelligence.
The WMD Preparedness subprogram incorporates elements of planning, training, and exercises to ensure that the FBI and its U.S. government partners are ready to respond to WMD threats if they emerge. This involves the development of comprehensive plans and policy at the strategic and operational levels that inform everyone involved in a situation what their specific responsibilities and courses of action are. The FBI encourages its employees to pursue a variety of training opportunities to improve their understanding of WMD threats and operational processes. The FBI itself conducts many of these courses, providing an advanced level of training to its special agents and intelligence analysts on chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats. To ensure that both the training and plans are adequate, the FBI regularly evaluates its progress through simulations and scenario-based exercises. These excercises provide the added benefits of improving coordination with other participating federal, state, local, and tribal agencies; enhancing participants’ understanding of their each others’ capabilities; and illustrating the areas where added resources are necessary.
The WMD Countermeasures subprogram consists of outreach activities and more specialized coordination called tripwires. Countermeasures are actions taken to counter, eliminate, or offset the WMD threat. Tripwires are proactive warning processes established to provide indicators of an emerging threat. Tripwires can be leveraged to provide real-time actionable intelligence to address immediate needs. In practical terms, tripwires are outreach activities with a specific purpose to establish an early warning network where those closest to an emerging situation (e.g. state and local public health, academic researchers, members of industry) are aware of potential risks and are prepared to inform the FBI when a risk may be developing into a WMD threat.
Investigations & Operations
The FBI is the law enforcement agency in the U.S. government with primary responsibility for investigating illegal activity. For the WMD environment, the FBI investigates the threatened, attempted, and actual use of a WMD, as well as the attempted or actual transfer of the materials, knowledge, and technology needed to create a WMD. The FBI maintains a robust response capability that can collect evidence in contaminated areas, disarm hazardous devices, and provide direct command and control support in on-scene situations. WMDD coordinates many of these capabilities across the FBI. The FBI supports major public events (e.g. sporting events, presidential speeches) through the deployment of personnel prepared to respond if a threat emerges.
The basis for the FBI’s proactive approach to the countermeasures, investigations, and operations is timely and relevant intelligence. As a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, the FBI both consumes and contributes large quantities of intelligence products to establish a clear picture of emerging and imminent threats at strategic and operational levels. FBI intelligence analysts sort through countless volumes of data to identify the most important information and synthesize it with other available information. The FBI relies heavily on its special agents in the field to identify intelligence sources with sufficient access to provide valuable information that could prevent a WMD catastrophe from occurring. The FBI also provides its partners in the U.S. Intelligence Community with regular finished intelligence products that improve the awareness of the WMD threat globally.