***** WMD Proliferation: Reforming the Security Sector to Meet the Threat. By Fred Schreier; published by Potomac Books, www.potomacbooksinc.com (Web); 362 pages; $29.95.
Along with the traditional forms of terrorism—bombings, abductions, and skyjackings—the threat of terrorists’ acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) persists. While WMD attacks are less likely, their potential human, physical, political, and economic impact magnifies their risk. In WMD Proliferation, Fred Schreier provides an excellent survey of the multifaceted threat.
The book addresses the panoply of WMD threats from nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, each in considerable detail. Schreier makes a succinct case that the demonstrated threat of biological attack remains the greatest. He rightfully recognizes the need to mitigate such threats, and he argues that reliable intelligence serves as the first line of defense.
Schreier takes on the ambitious task of discussing in detail the need to reform and reorganize the security sector for the job. He calls for reform that would eliminate duplication of effort at the international, national, and regional levels. The reader must wonder, however, given past experiences, whether reform and centralization simply add another layer of bureaucracy, while terrorists benefit most from asymmetric warfare waged on the smallest scale.
Of particular interest is Schreier’s recognition of the need to promote the appropriate responses to the stages of the attack process. One wishes, however, that he more fully addressed the importance of educating all segments of society about threats. Risk awareness is essential to preparedness and can deny terrorists their primary goal: disproportionate fear and disruption.
WMD Proliferation is a useful contribution to understanding, preventing, and responding to a major form of terrorist violence. Security professionals are well advised to read what Schreier has to say. The clock is ticking.
Reviewer: Stephen Sloan is the Lawrence J. Chastang Distinguished Professor of Terrorism Studies at the University of Central Florida. A pioneer in the study of terrorism and simulations of terrorists incidents, he has worked closely with military and security forces—in the United States and internationally—responsible for combating terrorism. The author of 14 books, his latest is Simulating Terrorism II: Counter-Terrorism and Red Teams, which will be published by the University of Oklahoma Press.