This report explores how terrorists or other non-state adversaries could potentially facilitate an avian influenza outbreak within the United States. The report was primarily intended to assist the Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief Intelligence Officer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Chief Medical Officer as they consider the implications of avian influenza to the Homeland. The scenarios explored in this paper are speculative and meant only to broaden the scope of thinking. They are not based on specific evidence or intelligence about terrorists’ plans and capabilities, but are considered scientifically feasible, according to experts that were interviewed.
Recent involvement by the U.S. military with hurricane relief and comments by the President on expanding the DOD’s role in disaster relief indicates increased missions for an already stretched military. The next national disaster facing the U.S. could be an influenza pandemic. The bird flu virus H5N1 currently threatening Asia and Europe can potentially mutate into a deadly human influenza pandemic with global consequences. The last major flu pandemic in 1918 killed 50 million people worldwide and 600,000 in the U.S. alone. The United States is not prepared for a human pandemic and the military will have a significant role in any national response. While some departmental level planning has been accomplished recently, interdepartmental coordination and clear identification of the lead federal agency is still lacking. This project explains possible effects of a pandemic on the U.S. and current responsibilities of federal departments involved in disaster relief. Analysis is presented on the evolving role the DOD plays should this event become reality and finally recommends preparations that should be accomplished to prepare the nation for this very real threat. An ad-hoc approach to a pandemic will have severe negative and far reaching affects on our nation and must be avoided.