Air Force Counterproliferation Center celebrates 10th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Dr. Barry Schneider
  • Air Force Counterproliferation Center
Born out of an agreement between the Air Staff and Air University in 1999, the U.S. Air Force Counterproliferation Center, or CPC, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary at Maxwell Air Force Base.

The mission of the center is to provide quality education and research on weapons of mass destruction threats and appropriate countermeasures to such threats. The term WMD is to be used interchangeably here to mean chemical, biological, radiological and/or nuclear, or CBRN, weapons.

The CPC staff teaches Air War College courses on WMD threats and countermeasures as well as international rivals and terrorism. It also sponsors WMD day at Air University each year as well as a major annual conference for Department of Defense and Air Force leaders.

The CPC has had an ambitious research and publication program, producing 12 books and 45 other studies - all dealing with WMD issues and adversaries that either have or are pursuing a CBRN capability. For example, the last two CPC books published are "Avoiding the Abyss: Progress, Shortfalls, and the Way Ahead in Combating WMD Threat" and "Know Thy Enemy II: A Look at the World's Most Threatening Terrorist Networks and Criminal Gangs."

The Counterproliferation Center staff are currently engaged in a major study of what every airman needs to know at every juncture of their career regarding WMD threats and countermeasures, and will report these education, training, and exercise recommendations to the Air Force chief of staff later this year.

In addition, the CPC conducts an annual summer Johnny Appleseed Workshop where it invites faculty members from all the services' professional military education schools to a two-day workshop on current WMD issues taught by leading WMD experts.

Beyond this, the CPC produces film documentaries, videotaped programs of instruction on biological warfare issues, audiotapes for senior leaders on chem-bio defense issues, and the CPC Outreach Journal - a twice weekly email attachment of articles and studies on WMD and international security topics sent to over 1,000 Air Force and DOD officers, 100 times per year. Finally, the CPC also offers WMD and related films on AUTV channel 35 in three, four-hour programs each week.

This center has a large mission run by a small staff. In order to educate the entire Air Force with just a few experts, the CPC will need to increasingly employ digital outreach and distance learning programs, and will need to let the electrons carry the majority of the information to Airmen and the Department of Defense combating WMD threats.

The CPC staff is working to equip the Air Force with information that helps its leaders to understand various types of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and how to deal with adversaries armed with these unconventional weapons. The center staff is convinced that their work is important US national security because "the United States cannot afford to be the unready confronting the unthinkable."

The Air Force Counterproliferation Center is now entering the second decade of its existence, dedicated to providing education and research that makes decision-makers and commanders more informed about potential WMD threats and the US responses that will help defeat them.