DOD deploying hazard-detection network
- By Dan Verton
- Mar 23, 2000
The Defense Department this year will complete the installation of command
and control networks linked to chemical and biological hazard detectors
at major air bases and ports worldwide, according to a Pentagon report delivered
to Congress Wednesday.
DOD's annual report on the status of chemical and biological defense programs
outlines ongoing and future efforts to protect military personnel and installations
from attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
Among those efforts is Portal Shield, a system that grew out of one of DOD's
Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations and has since been placed into
production to meet what the report calls "urgent [commander in chief] requirements."
But the Pentagon must overcome technological hurdles before it can achieve
its objective of a fully integrated warning, detection and reporting network
of sensors and command and control systems. Some of the major challenges
include fusing sensor data with mapping, imagery and other real-time display
systems, according to the report. Department plans call for testing of a
single network of sensors by 2010.
Researchers are developing lightweight, automated sensors that can provide
long-range detection and automatic reporting of chemical and biological
agent hazards. According to the report, programs such as Portal Shield "will
facilitate the integration of chemical detectors into personal warfighter
gear" as well as installation of the sensors on aircraft, ships, armored
vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Pentagon's ultimate goal of creating a single network of sensors may
also benefit state and local programs designed to monitor air pollution,
noxious fumes and municipal water supplies, the report stated.
DOD has deployed 10 Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection units, now called
Civil Support Teams, nationwide to work with local firefighters and emergency
response personnel in the event of a terrorist attack involving chemical
or biological weapons.
The Pentagon's fiscal 2001 budget proposal requests $836 million for weapons
of mass destruction defense programs, including an additional 17 CSTs.