A review by Robert Walk
The latest offering from the American Joint Staff is Joint Publication 3-41 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Consequence Management, dated 21st Jun 2012. This updates and replaces the 2nd October 2006 version and accompanies the Joint Staff’s other CBRN and WMD publications. As with all American, doctrinal publications, it also tells you what has changed from the previous version immediately after the preface. From the 2006 version, JP 3-41 has grown by close to ten percent in length during the rewrite process. This book review will discuss the organisation, relevancy and then each chapter of the publication in turn, followed by a conclusion.
First, the organisation of the publication: following normal US practice, there is an executive summary (15 pages) at the beginning, followed by the 1st chapter, which is an overview of 27 pages. In typical American tell ‘em what you told ‘em and then tell ‘em again fashion, 42 pages of summarised information twice refers the reader to the basics of what is contained in 68 pages of actual, joint doctrine. Each section is, however, designed for different level audiences.
In terms of the publication’s relevancy, this latest incarnation better emphasises the view that Consequence Management (CoM) is a ‘whole of government’ responsibility. The document also focusses, specifically, on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) CoM, vice CBRN and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE) CoM. This differentiates this new document from its older counterpart and ensures that it is in line with current US military thought, supplements and other Joint Publications. When working CoM operations in the US, it has always been acknowledged that federal forces will be reinforcing the local and state-level response. This version gives strong emphasis to that fact – no coubt to remind all – that the can-do, help-me or get-out-of-my-way attitude many expect to see in military support to civil authorities is not the right way conduct operations.
The whole document, in a nutshell, briefly covers all topics with information appropriate for senior leaders. This is suitable for use as background information by those seeking to understand the basics of US CoM operations. Longer than in the 2006 version, it provides much more specific information than the earlier version.
Chapter One - Overview: Starting with an quote, the overview gives a longer overview of US CoM operations. It covers CBRN specific aspects of the response and then refers the reader to the other Joint Publications as necessary. This reinforces the pentagon’s belief, rightly, that the basics of response are already there, it is only the specific hazards created by CBRN events that are unique.
Chapter Two - Domestic CBRN Consequence Management: This is where the real meat of the document is (38 of 68 pages of primary source material). Again, rightly, the focus is on the DoD component of the response as support to local and state authorities. At first notice, the referenced publication is no longer ‘Homeland Security’ but ‘Defense Support to Civil Authorities’, which is a much better fit, since Domestic CBRN Consequence Management is generally support to state and local governments. This continues the theme that JP 3-41 does not function in a vacuum, but is a member of the family of Joint Publications. As a side note, JP 3-26, formerly entitled ‘Homeland Security’ is now ‘Counterterrorism’. On the down side, the chapter has editing mistakes that appear to place the other Reserve Component capabilities in a subordinate position to the National Guard. Also, the overview of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s capabilities mentions their 24-hour technical reachback support three times in one paragraph.
Chapter Three - Foreign Consequence Management (FCM): DoD performs FCM upon direction of the president under the Department of State (unless otherwise directed) as lead federal agency. This chapter covers the FCM process in general and uses the Operation Tomadachi response as an example. While the definition of a response that can become an FCM operation includes the “deliberate or inadvertent release of CBRN materials including TICs and TIMs”, it also states that “acts of nature or man that do not involve CBRN material” are not FCM. Such all-encompassing definitions allow leaders to pick and choose what becomes FCM, which they chose not to do in the case of Operation Tomodachi and so it was not a declared FCM operation. In many ways, Operation Tomodachi is a good example and inclusion. The chapter, while excellent in many ways, cannot be as specific as Chapter two due to the many complexities of international relations. As demonstrated by the lack of FCM declaration for Operation Tomodachi, there also appears to be little enthusiasm for FCM.
Chapter Four - DoD led Consequence Management: This is the ‘all other’ case which covers regions without a functioning government, no Department of State presence or operations in conjunction with military operations. This chapter quite rightly reminds the military leaders that they must also consider the impacted civilian population while conducting military operations. Reaching back into history to provide an example might have improved this chapter.
Appendix A - Key Documents: Excellent overview of the complex and confusing guidance provided the US Military.
Appendix B - Planning Considerations: Good list of considerations, although one that might be improved with some recommended references for additional information.
Appendix C - DoD CBRN Domestic Response Enterprise Assets: Effectively an expansion of Chapter two, it is immediately obvious who provided the most information as it primarily covers the National Guard response capabilities with much less mention of the overall Federal response.
Appendix D – References: Where to look for additional information.
In summary, JP 1-02 describes a joint publication as “a compilation of fundamental principles, considerations and guidance on a particular topic…that guides the employment of the joint force toward a common objective.” JP 3-41 accomplishes this, updates guidance and terminology, and ensures continued relevance. On the downside, as it was written and formulated by a group of individuals, it over emphasises some organisations and neglects others. It all depends on who paid the most attention to the document (a common problem in the DoD).