The Shaping of United States Biodefense Posture




Lewis, Douglas R.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The First Gulf War highlighted significant shortcomings in the ability of the United States military to detect and defend against biological weapons. A subsequent examination of U.S. capabilities reveals that historically defenses against biological weapons have never been regarded as adequate. In spite of seventy years of effort the U.S. still struggles with the biological weapons threat. It is hypothesized that there is a bias inherent in the biological defense program which is hindering the development of more effective defensive measures. This dissertation conducts a historical analysis utilizing a congruency/process tracing test designed to determine the level of influence behaviors associated with three distinct theories have had over the U.S. biological program. The history of the program is examined for evidence of behaviors associated with; organizational frames, realism, and bureaucratic politics. From the historical data it is determined that while behaviors associated with each theory have exerted some influence, a chemical frame has exerted the greatest influence over the program. It is argued that this influence has blinded those within the program to the unique nature of biological weapons and has subsequently hindered the development of effective countermeasures. Based upon this finding, the impact of organizational frames upon the program is examined and possible solutions are explored.



Biodefense, Chemical weapons, Biological weapons, Organizational frames