The response must be 200 words and use at least 2 scholarly citation(s) in APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Acceptable sources include texts, articles, presentations, the Bible, blogs, videos, etc.
Johnson, T. A. (2015). Cybersecurity: Protecting critical infrastructures from cyber attack and cyber warfare.Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN: 9781482239225.
Pichtel, J. (2016). Terrorism and WMDs (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN: 9781498738989.
Chemical agents have a long history dating back to first documented use by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Indians, and Chinese, and these agents have the capabilities of killing massive numbers of people per deployment (Pichtel, 2016). Since that time, chemical warfare has evolved to the point that scientists have developed “bioanalytical methods for chemical warfare (CW) agents and their biological markers of exposure” (Black, 2010, p. 1207). What this essentially means is that we have developed this type of warfare to the point that scientists and doctors now have to consider the ways in which to counteract them, diagnose and investigate the origins of the chemical attack, and monitor those who work in areas where demilitarization is taking place, or other activities where chemical agents might be a concern (Black, 2010).
On the homeland security front, it is important to note that due to modern scientific and technical disciplines, the risk of the use of chemical agents is more likely now than ever before (Pitschmann, 2014, p. 1761). This is primarily due to the fact that “there is a general acceptance of the development of non-lethal chemical weapons at a technologically higher level” (Pitschmann, 2014, p. 1761) and these new threats merge at the boundaries of chemistry and biology, making the new threats just as life-altering as their past counterparts, though they are considered non-lethal. In other words, though not necessarily deadly, these modern chemical agents have long-term negative effects on the populations targeted.
Most Dangerous Chemical Agent
It is the opinion of this doctoral candidate that the most dangerous chemical agent is sarin gas. The opinion is based on the following side effects experienced by those exposed to the nerve agent. At a low exposure, symptoms can range from eye pain, broncho-spasms, and excessive drooling to sweating (Lee, 2003). At an intermediate level exposure, labored breathing, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting occur (Lee, 2003). However, at a high level of exposure, convulsions, loss of consciousness, paralysis, apnea, and even death may occur (Lee, 2003). While it is clear any of the chemical agents discussed by Pichtel may cause the targeted populations tremendous amounts of suffering, it is the opinion of the author of this discussion board that sarin gas, particularly after the Tokyo subway attack in 1995, causing more than a dozen deaths, was, and still is, a terrible way to die.
Explosive Hazards and Homeland Security
Explosive hazards are a constant threat to homeland security mainly because “numerous businesses manufacture, transport, and use low and high explosives in daily operations” (Pichtel, 2016, p. 197) and these uses do not even include that of the United States’ military. Another aspect making the threat to homeland security a real area of concern is the ease in which one may obtain the necessary components to make an explosive device, and many of the items needed are common, everyday items or homemade in nature (Pichtel, 2016). While the definition of an explosion is “the rapid expansion of matter into a greater volume” (Pichtel, 2016, p. 198), it is also important to address the effects on human life, just as with chemical agents, explosions, whether nuclear, mechanical, or chemical in nature, have the potential to kill large numbers of people with only one detonation.
The history of explosives is not all that different from chemical agents either. The historical roots of explosive devices are credited to the Chinese, the Hindus, and the Arabs with the discoveries of saltpeter and the invention of black powder (Pichtel, 2016). Since ancient times, explosives have evolved from black powder to lead, ammonium picrate, picric acid, tetryl trinitrotoluene (TNT), just to name a few (Pichtel, 2016). More recently, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have become a huge concern. While Americans largely became familiar with the term IED due to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), these devices became all too familiar on the homeland scene, as well. Case in point – the Boston Marathon in 2013, wherein two young men of Chechen descent, deployed two IEDs on the crowds in the marathon (National Police Foundation, 2014). The ease of obtaining ingredients needed, the widespread availability of these items, and the information available to instruct those wishing to cause harm with these types of devices makes the use of explosive devices a confirmed threat in all areas of the homeland security front.
Most Dangerous Explosive Hazard
It is the opinion of this doctoral candidate that the most dangerous explosive hazard is that of an IED. This opinion is based largely on IEDs deployed downrange when troops from Fort Campbell were in theatre in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another reason for this opinion, which is also equally biased, is because of the long-term effects on the survivors of IED attacks in the military ranks. To justify the opinion given herein, research on British troops shows that 50% of troops report IED-related concerns overall, 33% experienced IED explosions first-hand, and 25% had to administer first aid to those hit by an IED (Jones et al., 2014). Additionally, while those involved in combat and those who were in counter-IED threat roles had higher levels of IED exposure than other troops and personnel, it is important to note that more than 18% of personnel who witnessed IED attacks scored higher in common mental disorders and more than 7.5% scored higher in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Jones et al., 2014).
Toxic Industrial Chemicals and Homeland Security
Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) are also a valid threat on the homeland security front. The main reason for this is because they are very common and they are used in facilities nationwide every day (Pichtel, 2016). Examples of these hazardous chemicals include, but are not limited to, anhydrous ammonia, fertilizer compounds, chlorine, diesel fuel, sulfuric acid, and various types of flammable liquids (Pichtel, 2016). In more recent history, attacks such as that of Timothy McVeigh in 1995 in Oklahoma City, show just how common chemicals can inflict massive amounts of destruction and loss of life. The bombing materials he chose to use that day were a truckful of ammonium nitrate, which is a common fertilizing compound, and fuel oil (Office of the Inspector General, 1995). When the truck full of these materials was detonated, the Velocity of Detonation (VOD) was estimated to be 13,000 feet per second (Office of the Inspector General, 1995). Speaking to the lethality of such ‘bombs,’ 168 people were killed that day and the federal building was destroyed (History.com Editors, 2021).
The lesson this week is reminiscent of conversations about Fortress Campbell (Fort Campbell) I used to have with a former Army pilot. In the Lord, we find our mighty fortress and this is affirmed in the following verses: “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the Lord” (NIV Holy Bible, 2010, Psalm 31:3-5).
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