Biological weapons have threatened U.S. national security since
at least World War II. Historically, however, the U.S. military has
neglected research, development, acquisition, and doctrine for
biodefense. Following September 11 and the anthrax letters of 2001,
the United States started spending billions of dollars per year on
medical countermeasures and biological detection systems. But most
of this funding now comes from the Department of Health and Human
Services rather than the Department of Defense. Why has the U.S.
military neglected biodefense and allowed civilian organizations to
take the lead in defending the country against biological attacks?
In American Biodefense, Frank L. Smith III addresses this puzzling
and largely untold story about science, technology, and national
Smith argues that organizational frames and stereotypes have
caused both military neglect and the rise of civilian biodefense.
In the armed services, influential ideas about kinetic warfare have
undermined defense against biological warfare. The influence of
these ideas on science and technology challenges the conventional
wisdom that national security policy is driven by threats or
bureaucratic interests. Given the ideas at work inside the U.S.
military, Smith explains how the lessons learned from biodefense
can help solve other important problems that range from radiation
weapons to cyber attacks.
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