The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office Thursday, one of the first moves by new permanent Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen.
“The CWMD Office will consolidate the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the majority of the Office of Health Affairs [OHA], and elements of the DHS Office of Strategy, Plans, & Policy, and DHS Office of Operations Coordination,” DHS spokesperson Anna Franko told Homeland411.
James McDonnell, current director of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), will lead the new CWMD as well.
“OHA and DNDO will continue to exist, but will do so within the CWMD Office under a single leader,” Franko added. “We are currently working closely with Congress to determine future steps in organizing the office.” The new office will require authorizing legislation from Congress.
This move on the part of DHS is to stem what it calls an increasing (CBRN) threat.
“Intelligence analysis shows terrorist groups are actively pursuing EMD capabilities, are using battlefield environments to test them, and may be working to incorporate these methods into external operations in ways we have not seen previously,” said a DHS release announcing the new office Thursday.
The announcement reiterates some of what was included in a recent DHS terror bulletin. In addition to warnings of battlefield environment testing, the bulleting included warnings about imported terrorist themselves. “[F]oreign terrorist fighters who have acquired training and battle-tested terrorism experience may flee from terrorist controlled territories with a desire to conduct attacks elsewhere, including the United States,” the bulletin noted.
Thursday’s DHS announcement also noted that Deputy DHS Secretary Elaine Duke will discuss the CWMD at Hudson Institute on Dec. 13.
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