The Defense Department conducted an exercise March 20-22 to assess the national security implications of on-site measures being considered for a compliance protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention. (For information on the protocol, see BWC Ad Hoc Group Meets With 'Mixed' Results.)
Ordered by Congress in November 1999, the exercise, known as a "trial visit," was the first in a series and was conducted at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. During the trial, a visiting team, exercising "notional protocol provisions," toured the facility, interviewed personnel, and reviewed relevant documentation, according to a Defense official. A second team hosted the visit and tried to assess whether "the notional provisions adequately allowed for the protection of national security information."
The Defense Department is still evaluating the trial's results, which it will factor into an administration report to Congress assessing the need for "investigations" and "visits" under the compliance protocol. The department is considering conducting another trial visit later this year.