Department of Defense Public Affairs Plan
For Anthrax Vaccination Policy

1.  Issue   

More than 10 countries have or are developing a biological warfare (BW) capability. The equipment and technology to produce BW agents are entirely dual-use. BW agents, by weight, are more toxic than chemical or conventional weapons. There is no need for large stockpiles. A small amount can potentially produce large numbers of casualties. Delivery capabilities can include aerial bombs, artillery shells, long-range missiles, agricultural sprayers, or spray tanks carried by aircraft. 

There is legitimate global trade of many materials and equipment that could be used to produce BW agents. It is difficult to limit proliferation of BW-related, dual-use technologies since there is a legitimate need for legal products which can be produced with this equipment, i.e., pharmaceuticals biopesticides, etc. 

In the spectrum of BW agents, of particular concern to the U.S. is anthrax bacterium. Anthrax is easy to grow in large quantities as spores. Spores are very environmentally stable and are highly resistant to degradation by sunlight, heat, and disinfectants Ė all properties which could be advantageous when choosing a biological weapon. 

Early in this decade, Iraq admitted that it had performed defensive research and development on the offensive use of anthrax, prior to the Persion Gulf War. Lately, Iraq has admitted to producing and weaponizing anthrax. 

Anthrax can either be processed wet or dry and then stabilized for weaponization by an adversary. Anthrax could then be delivered as an aerosol cloud either from a line source, such as an aircraft flying upwind of friendly positions, or as a point source from a spray device. Coverage of a large ground area could also be facilitated by multiple spray bomblets disseminated from a missile warhead at a predetermined height above the ground. 

Immunization, as a central medical protection countermeasure, is a critical factor in an integrated approach to force protection. As the doctrine indicates, no single means to ensure our men and women in uniform will be protected against this insidious form of warfare. A systems approach is required to address the force protection question. 

It is both prudent and necessary for us to protect U.S. troops against a known and dangerous threat. We are morally obligated to provide the best protection we are capable of providing to our troops. In the case of protection against anthrax, the best protection is a vaccine to provide individual immunity to this high-threat, lethal BW agent. 

DoD Policy   

DoD has promulgated guidance for protection of U.S. armed forces against the BW threat through a DoD directive. DoD Directive 6205.3, DoD Immunization Program for Biological Warfare Defense, established a logical framework which identifies DoD personnel who require immunization against the BW employment threat. 

Our current policy for immunization stipulates that the following personnel, subject to special exceptions approved by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be immunized against validated biological warfare agents, for which suitable vaccines are available, in sufficient time to develop immunity before deployment to high-threat areas: 

  • Personnel assigned to high-threat areas.
  • Personnel predesignated for immediate contingency deployment (crisis response).
  • Personnel identified and scheduled for deployment on an imminent or on-going operation to a high-threat area.
The directive also provides a process through which an immunization program decision is made. 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, through the intelligence community, identifies the high-threat countries that have weaponized BW agents, or are suspected of having weaponized BW agents, and the BW agents they have weaponized. 

The Secretary of the Army (as the DoD executive agent for Chemical and Biological Defense), in conjunction with the Secretaries of the other Military Department and the Chair of the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board, provides recommendations to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) on vaccines available and DoD immunization requirements. 

ASD (Health Affairs) then directs the Secretaries of the Military Departments to begin immunization of the DoD personnel against specific BW threat agents and the Secretaries of the Military Departments execute the DoD immunization Program for BW defense in their departments. 

The trigger event for this plan is the announcement of the beginning of congressional consultations and the internal education of U.S. forces and their family members concerning DoD plans to immunize U.S. military personnel against anthrax. It is critical that the internal audience - the military and their families, be informed about the decision to vaccinate prior to the public announcement.  

2.  Audiences 

a.  External: National, international media; Congress; President and his Cabinet; Veterans Service Organizations, American public.  

b.  Internal: U.S. military forces (active and reserve components), their families, DoD civililans, retired military personnel, and associated contractor personnel. 

3.  Goals 

a.  Answer as accurately, completely, and expeditiously as possible, inquiries from the media and the public regarding DoD policy to vaccinate military members against anthrax. 

b.  Support the DoD policy to vaccinate. 

c.  Assist in the placement of articles and op-ed pieces in professional, trade, and general interest publications. 

d.  Assist in the placement of speakers. 

4.  Objectives  

a.  To ensure the public understands the need to vaccinate military. 

b.  To increase public knowledge of DoDís anthrax vaccination policy.  

Key communication points: 

  • The health and safety of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines is our paramount concern
  • The potential biological threat is real. U.S. forces must be prepared to confront biological weapons, such as anthrax, on future battlefields.
  • The anthrax vaccine has an excellent safety record and is approved by the FDA. It is the only known protection against anthrax. It has fewer side effects than flu or typhoid vaccines.
  • Veterinarians and other people who work with livestock in the U.S. have been using an FDA-approved vaccine to protect themselves from anthrax for almost 30 years. 
5.  Responsibilities 

a.  OASD (PA) 

(1)  Directorate for Plans will: 

    a. Provide public affairs guidance concerning the announcement of the DoD anthrax vaccination policy. 
    b.  Monitor progress of the strategy and evaluate the results 
    c.  Coordinate with Legislative Affairs 
    d.  Provide RTQ questions and answers concerning anthrax vaccinations 
(2)  Directorate for Defense Information will: 
    a.  Respond to invitations and media request for Pentagon expert commentary on the DoD policy to vaccinate the troops 
    b.  Coordinate press briefing, isf desired, and background briefings, if required. 
    c.  Distribute Bluetop (DPL drafts) 
(3)  Directorates for Programs and Community Relations will: 
    a.  Arrange speaking platforms and coordinate interviews wil external and internal media for appropriate senior defense officials. Arrange speaking platforms and coordinate interviews with external and internal media for other key officials, as appropriate. 
    b.  Coordinate speaking engagements for Speakers Bureau participants; to the extent possible, ensure participants have access to current communication points prepared by DPL and DDI for use in speeches and encourage their inclusion. 
    c.  Coordinate radio press conference with senior Defnese offical(s) for regional news radio stations and programs naitionwide. 
    d.  Arrange briefings for and provide Bluetop fact sheets to:
Veterans Groups: 
  • American Legion 
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars 
  • Amvets 
  • Disabled American Veterans 
  • American GI Forum 
  • Jewish War Veterans 
Military Organizations: 
  • Association of the U.S. Army 
  • Navy League 
  • Air Force Association 
  • Noncommissioned Officers Association 
  • Adjutants General Association 
  • The Reserve Officers Association 
  • Retired Officers Association 
  • National Guard Association 
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard 
(4)  Public Communications Directorate will respond to inquiries from the American public upon request 

(5)  Directorate for Management will:  Coordinate all administrative action in support of this plan 

(6)  Directorate, Editorial Services will prepare remarks on anthrax immunization for inclusion in SecDef/DepSecDef force protection and counterproliferation speeches. 

(7)  American Forces Information Service will: 

    a.  Publish an article on anthrax immunization by a senior defense official in Defense 98. 
    b.  Publish an article(s) on DoDís immunization policy in the American Forces Press Service 
    c.  Publish civilian media coverage in the Current News Early Bird, Supplement, and Radio-TV Defense Dialog. 
    d.  AFRTS News Center will produce a television news story on the announcement of the DoD anthrax immunization policy, based on interviews with Dep SecDef (USD9P&R), ASD9HA), Director of the Joint Staff, and other appropriate Defense officials. 
    e.  Support all aspects of still and motion media documentation of the activities to satisfy public affairs, historical, legal, and training requirements.  

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