With WMD Attack Likely, Can the U.S. Cope?

15,000 troops to be stationed inside the U.S. by 2011 to counter WMD attack.

ByABC News
December 2, 2008, 6:09 PM

Dec. 3, 2008 — -- The recent report revealing a likely biological or nuclear terror attack on the United States by 2013 has left some national security experts questioning what, if anything, a government plan to station 15,000 military troops inside the United States might do to counteract a domestic catastrophe.

The report, released by the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, determined that, because of the availability of biological weapons and, to a lesser extent, the distribution of nuclear material, "it is more likely than not" that an attack on the United States using a weapon of mass destruction will occur in the next five years.

A representative for the U.S. Northern Command told ABCNews.com that 15,000 trained military troops will be stationed inside the United States by 2011, ready to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents.

"These troops are not designed to be first responders," said spokesman Mike Kucharek. "They are designed to be in place to supplement the state and local efforts."

Of the 15,000 troops, Kucharek said that 5,000 will be active-duty troops and the remaining 10,000 will be a combination of reserve forces and National Guard.

Several national security experts told ABCNews.com that they applaud the military's plan to ready the country against what they say is an inevitable terrorist attack. But others voiced concern that having an active brigade within the United States would increase the possibility of a police state and may even violate the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law designed to limit the U.S. government's use of the military for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Kucharek said that the troops would not be doing any law enforcement or crowd control.

"They will inevitably have to act to protect themselves, but they will not be acting as law enforcement," Kucharek said.

President Bush temporarily reversed the Posse Comitatus Act after Hurricane Katrina in an attempt to restore order to the devastated New Orleans area, but his changes were eventually repealed and the act was reinstated.

Security experts said President-elect Obama will also be able to make changes to the federal law in order to deploy U.S. troops within the country and is likely to do so in the event of a terrorist attack.

The Obama camp declined to comment on how the Obama administration might use troops should such an event occur.