With an ongoing pivot toward great power competition, there may be a temptation to reduce counter-proliferation efforts against violent non-state actors (VNSA) to a peripheral mission for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). However, the current and emerging threats of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) acquisition and use by VNSA are increasing through the ubiquity of various technologies, materials, and internet access. This research analyzes the use of chemical weapons (CW) by VNSA and the unique challenges of detecting and combating CW at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. This research first implements regression models using chemical incident data from 1995–2017 to identify which strategic and operational environments are associated with VNSA CW adoption, and uses the outcomes to create a template for predictive intelligence methods for chemical threats. Next, the researchers conduct social network analysis to investigate commonalities among VNSA with chemical programs, and to determine if these CW tactics are geographically migrating. Then, lessons learned from the case study involving al-Qaeda in Iraq yield a proposed disruption model tested in a plausible, near-future scenario. Finally, policy recommendations are provided for USSOCOM and other relevant entities to improve counter-WMD efforts as they relate to the prediction and disruption of the chemical programs of VNSA.
Warren, Timothy C. Volpe, Tristan
Defense Analysis (Irregular Warfare) Information Strategy and Political Warfare
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Science in Defense Analysis (Irregular Warfare) Master of Science in Information Strategy and Political Warfare
Defense Analysis (DA)
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