Friday, October 21, 2005

Iraq: An Avian Flu Factor?

Just came across this interesting post from Laurie Garrett at The Council on Foreign Relations:

...The Department of Defense is working on at least two pandemic flu plans, but we are not aware of any that posit a domestic role for military personnel. On September 16 the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a pandemic flu assessment that finds the most likely scenario for H5N1 to be that “the virus continues to be transmitted among bird species with sporadic cases among humans,” offering no serious problems for the American people or military. DoD has no published plans for dealing with virulent influenza among active duty personnel, or for conducting wars on two fronts when a significant percentage of combat personnel are ailing. We find this particularly troubling in light of the fact that insurgents battling U.S. personnel both in Iraq and Afghanistan often include suicidal players for whom the threat of lethal influenza would not likely be a deterrent to their military operations. In effect, if 30% of U.S. frontline troops were down with virulent flu while the epidemic had no impact on insurgent activities, the virus could prove a decisive strategic factor. ...

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