Save the Date for This Timely NSF Session!

ADAPTING TO EXTREMES:

SECURING THE NATION AS

THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGES

With

Dr. Maureen McCarthy

The Ramada, 9 am, Wednesday, March 1, 9:00 am

Climatologists differ on the causes of the climate changes we are witnessing, but there is no disagreement that we are experiencing more weather extremes now (compared to the historical record). For example, there are significant rises in sea levels as Arctic and Antarctic regions warm and the ice caps melt. We are also witnessing more frequent and ferocious storms, heat waves and droughts, leading to concern over impacts on populated areas (many of which are at or near sea level). Already some Pacific island nations are disappearing, floods are hitting coastal installations with more force, and populations are being displaced. The U.S. is not immune to these impacts, especially considering that 40% of our populace lives within one meter of sea level!

These climate changes are having a major impact on our national security priorities. For example, Arctic warming has led to the opening of new sea routes through this region, which in turn will generate more US-Russian competition for access to these “SLOCs”—Sea Lanes of Communication. Are our emergency response teams prepared to deal with “super storms”, for example, like the “Super Typhoon Haiyan” that devastated much of the Philippines? And here in the U.S., the growing presence of “atmospheric rivers” means that communities will have to build in more resilience to continuing extreme weather variabilities.

We should note that there is widespread agreement among climatologists that: (1) The climate is changing, primarily becoming warmer; (2) That a primary cause of this climate change is the global dependence on the burning of fossil fuels; and (3) That these climate changes have and will generate critical national security concerns. However, as disappointing as it may be to some, Dr. McCarthy will focus only on (1) and (3) above, putting aside for now the causes of a changing climate.

Dr. Maureen McCarthy is on the UNR research faculty and with the Desert Research Institute. She is also the Executive Director of the Tahoe Science Consortium, where she leads multi-disciplinary research projects focused on climate change and water sustainability. Maureen is also President of McCarthy and Smith Consulting.

No need to RSVP now—just mark the date!

Summary of the presentation on….

Bio Threats

Infectious Diseases and National Security

with

Dr. James Wilson

Renowned medical intelligence specialist and UNR Professor, Dr. James Wilson, presented an overview of the threat to national security represented by infectious diseases.  According to a recent intelligence estimate, “highly virulent and increasingly anti-microbial resistant pathogens… are major sources of infections that kill some 14,000 hospital patients annually”.  Wilson added that the world now faces the “specter of pan-resistant pathogens”.

In addition to concerns generated by the spread of infectious diseases through natural processes, Wilson also drew the audience’s attention to the probability of a bio terrorist attack against the U.S. as more states and groups develop a biological warfare capability.

Wilson pointed out that numerous times in the past 20 years infectious disease outbreaks have caused thousands of deaths globally.  He lamented that in virtually none of these cases did the intelligence or public health communities indicate an awareness of the probability of disease spread nor provide adequate warning for domestic health personnel to combat the diseases.  This included the emergence of HIV/AIDS, the West Nile Virus between 1999 and 2002, SARS in 2003, Pandemic Influenza H1N1 in 2009, MERS over the past 3 years, and most recently, the Zika virus (over 5,000 cases in America alone).  Wilson also noted the devastating impact of the Ebola virus between 2013 and 2016.

Wilson said that by far the majority of infectious disease spread has emanated from natural causes.  Indeed, manmade and human induced biological warfare has been to date rather rare, with limited overall impact compared to naturally occurring disease.  Wilson did note the use by the Japanese of biological germs, such as typhoid and plague, over China during WWII.  There was also evidence of that the largest anthrax epidemic in the world, which occurred during the 1970s in Rhodesia, may have been an intentional release.  Dr. Wilson was quick to point out how incredibly difficult it is to prove attribution without the open testimony of the actors.

What concerned Wilson to a great extent is that American and global public health agencies continue to be surprised, which is evidence of a lack of effective, actionable intelligence.  He also expressed deep concern over the extent to which antibiotics have been utilized, so much so that he worries that we will not have the means to combat human induced or naturally caused diseases in the near future.

In response to questions from the audience, Wilson said his primary recommendations for the American public health community to do would be:

1) A complete overhaul of this nation’s medical intelligence system that includes a system of public accountability for intelligence failures associated with biological threat events;

2) A process of linking actionable intelligence to prioritized research and development for effective, safe medical countermeasures;

3) Designation of a single point of executive authority for the nation’s biodefense that is answerable to the President.

Several participants raised the issue of nation state or a terrorist group manufacturing and possessing biologic agents.  Concerns ranged from possible poisoning of the New York City water supply to the employment of biological weapons during a global conflict.  Wilson said the possibility of causing significant fatalities from a poisoning of a city’s water supply was fairly remote since the agents are diluted to the point of being ineffective.  When asked if any major nation state today was developing a biological weapons capability, Wilson said that attention needed to be paid to the North Koreans and Russians.  The Russian program, known as Bio-Preparat, was ostensibly disbanded years ago.  While the current Russian government has declared that program was dissolved, Wilson expressed doubts as to what extent Russia’s bioweapon production capabilities are truly deactivated.

In sum, Wilson said that he was currently far more concerned with preventing the spread of infectious diseases that occur naturally.  While nation states and some terrorist groups do have the capability for conducting a biologic warfare program, by far the most significant concern for Wilson was the lack of effective intelligence regarding outbreaks that may become national security issues, and the associated slow response of U.S. and global health agencies.

The link to Dr. Wilson’s PowerPoint in below:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kjylylnqhb06mc6/ID%20and%20Natl%20Security.pptx?dl=0

This is the final announcement for this most exciting presentation on….

BIO THREATS

Infectious Diseases and National Security

with

Dr. James Wilson

UNR Research Professor and Director,
Nevada Center for Infectious Disease Forecasting
The Ramada, Friday, February 10, 2017, 9:00 a.m.
The United States faces severe challenges from a consorted attack using bio weapons by nation states or terrorist groups.  In addition, the U.S. needs to be prepared to counter naturally occurring infectious diseases, which have become key national security concerns, regardless of source.
UNR Research Professor and Director, the Nevada Center for Infectious Disease Forecasting, Dr. James Wilson, believes that the United States will face growing threats of widespread impacts from infectious diseases of major significance.  He will argue that our intelligence community has failed to provide sufficient warning of such incidents in the past, and that has cost many American lives.  At one point, Wilson believes, our President was placed at great direct risk.
Wilson concludes that public health is in a “state of slow collapse”.  A major failure has been the absence of serious involvement from the intelligence community, working with the bio-medical sectors.  The need for such cooperation is critical– now more than ever.
Dr. James Wilson (MD) led the efforts in the Bush administration to create the nation’s first comprehensive warning system for infectious disease-related national security events.  He led teams that provided advance warning for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and identification of the United Nations as the source of the Haiti cholera disaster in 2010.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Summary of the Presentation on….

National Security Challenges Facing the Trump Administration

with

Keith Hansen

January 27, 2017

Former National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs and Non-Proliferation, Keith Hansen, provided a comprehensive overview of the national security challenges facing the new Trump administration.  For this presentation, Hansen assumed the role of a senior British MI-6 intelligence official providing his perspective on the “threats and uncertainties” that President Trump and his national security team must address early on.  His key source was the 2016 Annual Worldwide Testimony given by the Director of National Intelligence to Congress at the beginning of each budget year.

Hansen warned that while the new administration will attempt to address these concerns and its priorities in an orderly fashion, in fact most Presidents have been confronted with serious, unanticipated challenges early on.  For example, George H. Bush was struck with the 9/11 attacks and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq early in his Presidency; President Obama was met with the Arab Spring and rising challenges from radical Islamic Jihadist groups, including ISIS.  In addition, as Hansen pointed out, the new administration will be trying to satisfy a number of campaign promises it made regarding domestic policy that will have very high priority, including curbing illegal immigration, dismantling and replacing Obamacare, and energy issues (including Keystone Pipeline and Yucca).  He noted that there is often a crossover between foreign and domestic policies.

With respect to Trump’s foreign priorities, Hansen placed defeating ISIS high on the agenda, followed by nuclear proliferation and dealing with provocations from China, a possible “détente” with Russia, and anticipated belligerence by North Korea.  In addition, the President will likely terminate the nuclear agreement with Iran and attempt to quell anxiety amongst our NATO allies.  With respect to each of these areas, Hansen enumerated specific concerns and challenges these various issues will pose (which he laid out coherently and comprehensively in the attached PowerPoint).

Finally, Hansen discussed the emerging national security team, which is very heavy with retired generals and Congressmen.  Given that tensions always will exist between the White House staff and Cabinet departments, Hansen predicted that some serious policy differences will emerge quickly between senior Cabinet officials, such as Rex Tillerson at State and Jim Mattis at Defense, and the fiery National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn.

Below, please find the link to Keith Hansen’s PowerPoint presentation covering in much greater detail the contingencies and concerns that were summarized here.  Given the interest shown by our record audience (over 230!) we all believe it will be valuable to have Keith Hansen return in 6 months to address the National Security Forum on how well the new Trump administration is dealing with these multiple national security challenges!

The link for Keith Hansen’s PowerPoint is below:

Keith Hansen PowerPoint

Please Join Us for this Most Interesting Presentation on….

BIO THREATS

Infectious Diseases and National Security

with

Dr. James Wilson

UNR Research Professor and Director, Nevada Center for Infectious Disease Forecasting

The Ramada, Friday, February 10, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

The United States faces severe challenges from a consorted attack using bio weapons by nation states or terrorist groups.  In addition, the U.S. needs to be prepared to counter naturally occurring infectious diseases, which have become key national security concerns, regardless of source.

UNR Research Professor and Director, the Nevada Center for Infectious Disease Forecasting, Dr. James Wilson, believes that the United States will face growing threats of widespread impacts from infectious diseases of major significance.  He will argue that our intelligence community has failed to provide sufficient warning of such incidents in the past, and that has cost many American lives.  At one point, Wilson believes, our President was placed at great direct risk.

Wilson concludes that public health is in a “state of slow collapse”.  A major failure has been the absence of serious involvement from the intelligence community, working with the bio-medical sectors.  The need for such cooperation is critical– now more than ever.

Dr. James Wilson (MD) led the efforts in the Bush administration to create the nation’s first comprehensive warning system for infectious disease-related national security events.  He led teams that provided advance warning for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and identification of the United Nations as the source of the Haiti cholera disaster in 2010.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.