Table of




The mechanized infantry platoon must be able to fight on the nuclear, biological, and chemically contaminated battlefield. The three fundamentals of NBC operations are contamination avoidance, protection, and decontamination. An understanding of these fundamentals enhances operational readiness and survival on the integrated battlefield.

1.  Operations in a Nuclear Environment. The platoon's ability to fight in a nuclear environment, as in any combat situation, depends largely on how well individual and collective tasks have been learned in training. During training and operations, the proper positioning and movement of soldiers and vehicles and the proper construction of fighting positions with overhead protection must be stressed. When the platoon can do all the individual and collective tasks while employing nuclear protective measures, its chances of continuing to be combat effective on the integrated battlefield are improved.

a.  Nuclear Weapons Effects. Nuclear weapons produce four primary effects: blast, thermal radiation (heat and light), nuclear radiation, and electromagnetic pulse. The degree of nuclear effect depends on how close a platoon is to the detonation and how well soldiers and equipment are protected.

(1)  Blast. When a nuclear weapon detonates, it sends out a shock wave at the speed of sound in all directions. It can collapse buildings and hurl men and equipment. The blast effect has two phases: the positive phase or shock wave, and the negative phase or suction effect.

(2)  Thermal Radiation. Thermal radiation produced by a nuclear explosion consists of intense heat and extremely bright light. Unprotected soldiers exposed to this heat and intense light can be severely burned and blinded. Materials (such as wood, plastics, and rubber) may melt or burn. The extent of these effects depends on the kind of weapon, weather, and terrain. Fog or heavy battlefield smoke can reduce the effects of thermal radiation. On clear nights, the blinding effect is greater, and night vision devices can be damaged.

(3)  Nuclear Radiation. A nuclear weapon produces two forms of nuclear radiation--initial and residual. Both forms of radiation can injure or kill. The human body can survive limited exposure to radiation, but the effects add up; each dose a person receives adds to earlier doses. Troop exposure to radiation must be measured and recorded so the amount of radiation absorbed can be monitored. Soldiers should be taken out of contaminated areas before they are exposed to an overdose of radiation.

(a)  Initial radiation occurs during the first instant of the explosion. Since this radiation travels at the speed of light, the only way to lessen the danger is to be protected before the detonation.

(b)  Residual radiation remains after the first minute. It is caused by materials being exposed to the initial radiation and retaining the radiation effects. It is found around the site of the nuclear detonation. If radioactive particles are carried aloft, they become fallout, which may spread over a larger area. Fallout is created by dust sucked into the explosion and later scattered by the wind. Such things as dirt, equipment, and buildings become contaminated from exposure to either initial radiation or fallout.

(4)  Electromagnetic Pulse. EMP is a massive surge of electrical power similar to a strong radio signal. It comes from the nuclear explosion and is transmitted through the air in all directions. It occurs immediately after a nuclear device explodes. It can damage electrical components of equipment (radios, radars, and vehicles) and weapon systems (TOW and Dragon) if proper precautions are not taken. EMP does not harm soldiers. Equipment can be protected against EMP by using protective devices where signals can enter (antenna and cable terminals) to divert energy to the ground, and by properly shielding circuits from outside electromagnetic fields. Much protection can also be provided by using techniques to minimize exposure to EMP and by reducing the amount of EMP energy going into the circuits from outside sources. The first step is to teach everyone about EMP and its effects on equipment. Secondly, soldiers should take steps to reduce EMP exposure by grounding all connecting cables as much as practical and by placing them in metal conduits.

b.  Warning of a Nuclear Explosion or Hazard. Information about possible enemy use of nuclear weapons is forwarded to companies and platoons through the chain of command by the quickest and most secure means. The communication to the platoons need contain only:

    • A proword indicating that the message is a nuclear strike warning.
    • A brief message, IAW SOP, that directs the platoon either to take specific protective actions or to evacuate the area.

c.  Alarm for Nuclear Hazard. As soon as a soldier using a monitoring device detects a nuclear hazard, he should warn others. The alarm must be passed swiftly throughout the platoon. The standard alarm is to yell "FALLOUT." The same warning is used when the platoon moves into an area contaminated by residual radiation. The "ALL CLEAR" is used to indicate that the danger no longer exists. Normally, the all clear signal is first given by the company commander or a platoon leader and then repeated by each soldier when he hears it.

d.  Nuclear Protective Measures. A soldier can get protection against many nuclear effects by taking cover in a fighting position, culvert, or ditch behind a hill; or inside a BFV in defilade. In most cases, a fighting position with overhead cover or a BFV in defilade offers the best protection. When a platoon, without warning, is subjected to an enemy nuclear attack, personnel exposed in BFV hatches should immediately get down in the vehicle and close the hatches, door, or ramp. They should also lower blackout curtains over vision blocks. Dismounted exposed soldiers should immediately close their eyes, and fall to prone and head-on positions. They keep their heads and faces down until the blast wave passes and debris stops falling. As soon as possible, leaders should reestablish command, communication, and security; and send the initial NBC 1 report. Action should be taken to start continuous monitoring. The platoon uses the NBC 4 report format to send its findings to the company commander.

e.  Radiological Monitoring. Radiological monitoring is the detection (presence and intensity) of residual radiation by the use of radiacmeters. Monitoring is essential down to squad level to prevent overexposure to radiation. The IM-174 or AN/VDR-2- series radiacmeters are the instruments used for area monitoring and survey. The IM-93 or DT 236 dosimeters are the instruments used to measure total dose radiation received by soldiers. Accurate dose records must be kept to avoid overexposing soldiers and to keep the total dose relatively equal within a platoon. If a squad is deployed under its leader's control, it should carry and monitor the dosimeters. If the platoon is deployed with a dismount element and a fighting vehicle element, each element leader should monitor a dosimeter. The two types of monitoring techniques are periodic and continuous. Platoons return to periodic monitoring when ordered by a higher echelon or when the radiacmeter reading falls below 1 cGy per hour.

(1)  Periodic monitoring requires frequent checks and readings of the platoon area for radiation at least once each hour with the IM-174. Platoon SOPs may require more frequent readings and detailed information when monitoring.

(2)  Continuous monitoring requires the continuous surveillance for radiation in the platoon area or position. The platoon begins monitoring when:

  • A nuclear detonation is observed or reported.
  • An NBC 3 nuclear report is received from higher headquarters.
  • A dose rate of 1 cGy per hour is recorded during periodic monitoring. (Centigray is a unit of absorbed dose of radiation formerly called a rad.)
  • Ordered by higher.

2.  Operations in a Chemical and Biological Environment. Threat forces have both chemical and biological weapons that may be used separately, together, or with nuclear and conventional weapons. No matter how these weapons might be used, the BFV platoon and squad must be able to survive and carry on the fight. To ensure this, soldiers must be trained to meet the NBC standards of proficiency prescribed in STPs 21-1-SMCT and STPs 21-24-SMCT, and FM 3-100.

a.  Characteristics of Chemical and Biological Agents. Chemical agents are used to cause casualties, disrupt movement, and restrict the use of terrain. They may be delivered as a gas, liquid, or spray by artillery, mortars, rockets, missiles, aircraft, bombs, and/or land mines. Besides causing casualties, chemical agents can be used to cause confusion. Biological agents produce disease. These agents may be dispersed by generators, artillery, bomblets, rockets, and aircraft. They also may be spread by the release of insects such as flies, mosquitos, fleas, and ticks.

(1)  Effects of Chemical Agents. Chemical agents enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, or skin. Liquid agents may contaminate equipment, the ground, and foliage. The agent may stay for hours or days and be a serious hazard to unprotected soldiers. Chemical agents cannot destroy the BFV or its equipment. They can restrict equipment use until the equipment is sufficiently decontaminated to reduce the hazard. At platoon level, soldiers can decontaminate only the mission-essential areas (driver's controls, gunner's controls, and individual weapons). So all personnel must continue to wear protective masks, overgarments, overboots, and gloves once chemical contamination has occurred. All leaders and soldiers must know what their responsibilities are and the techniques for decontamination operations in accordance with FM 3-5.

(2)  Alarms for Chemical Hazard or Attack. Standard alarms include the vocal signal "GAS," prescribed arm-and-hand signals, automatic chemical-agent alarms, rapid and continuous beating on any metal object that produces a loud noise, a succession of short blasts on a vehicle horn or any other similar device, or a broken warbling siren sound (example, 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off). The vocal signal "ALL CLEAR" indicates that the danger no longer exists. Normally, it is initiated by leaders (company commander or platoon leader) after prescribed unmasking procedures have been completed. (Figure 2-114.)

Figure 2-114. Standard Alarm Signals.

b.  Protective Measures in Chemical and Biological Warfare. In a chemical or biological attack, the MOPP gear is the best protection. Strict enforcement of all preventive medical and field sanitation measures can further enhance NBC defense.

(1)  Chemical Attack. A soldier's primary protection against chemical attack is his protective mask, which protects against inhalation of chemical agents. To be fully protected against liquid chemical agents, soldiers must wear the chemical protective overgarments, the mask with hood, overboots, and rubber gloves. (Figure 2-115.)

Figure 2-115. Protective Equipment and Overgarments.

(a)  If enemy use of chemical weapons is likely, each soldier in the vehicle should wear his protective mask on his chest to hasten masking. If the commander directs, or the MOPP level dictates, the protective overgarments and masks are worn rather than carried in the stowed positions.

(b)  Once a chemical hazard is detected, all individuals should immediately mask and put on their protective overgarments if not already wearing them. It is difficult for everyone to put on protective overgarments at the same time in the BFV. To avoid confusion while dressing in the vehicle, platoon SOPs should dictate the sequential dressing of individuals in certain seats. This would also provide for maintaining security.

(c)  If an attack is reported to be imminent or if chemical agents have already been employed by enemy forces, individuals should automatically mask when:

  • Chemical alarms or detection kits indicate presence of chemical agents.
  • Any artillery, mortar, rocket, or aircraft attack with other than HE munitions occurs on or near their position.
  • Smoke or mist of an unknown source arrives in the area.
  • A chemical attack is suspected for any other reason, such as enemy soldiers seen wearing protective masks and clothing, or presence of dead animals or people with no outward sign of injury.
  • The platoon must enter an area known to be or suspected of being contaminated by a chemical or biological agent.
  • Soldiers have any of the following symptoms: A runny nose; a feeling of choking or tightness in the chest or throat; blurred vision or difficulty in focusing; irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat; or difficulty in, or increased rate of, breathing.

(2)  Biological Attack. Definite information on enemy use of biological agents may come down from higher headquarters. Still, each platoon must be alert to the danger and report at once any unusual occurrence of disease. The best local defense against biological warfare is strict enforcement of all preventive medical measures (prescribed immunizations) and field sanitation measures as well as high standards of personal hygiene. Soldiers should eat and drink only from approved sources.

c.  Chemical Detection Equipment. Chemical detection equipment includes the M8Al automatic chemical-agent alarm, M256 chemical-agent detector kit, ABC-M8 chemical-agent detector paper, the M9 (LAD) chemical-agent detector paper, and the CAM (chemical-agent monitor). (Figure 2-116.)

Figure 2-116. Alarm Detector.

(1)  The M8Al automatic chemical-agent alarm produces an audible or visual signal when it detects the presence of nerve agents in the air. It is stowed inside the BFV on the right rear wall. To detect chemical agents, personnel must remove the M8Al alarm from the vehicle, assemble according to TM 3-6665-225-12, backpack, or mount externally, and place into operation.

(2)  The M256 chemical-agent detector kit is used to detect sublethal vapor concentration of nerve, blister, and blood agents. The kit should be used when a chemical attack has occurred or when the presence of a chemical agent is suspected. (Figure 2-117.)

Figure 2-117. Detector Kit.

(3)  ABC-M8 chemical-agent detector paper comes in a 25-sheet booklet. The booklet is a component of the M256 chemical-agent detector kit and the individual protective mask. The paper sheets are treated with chemicals that turn dark green, yellow, or red when in contact with liquid V-type nerve agents, G-type nerve agents, or blister (mustard) agents, respectively. This paper must touch the liquid agent to be sure of a positive test; it does not detect vapor. It is best suited for use on nonporous material such as metal. The test is not always reliable on porous material (such as wood or rubber) that can absorb the liquid agent. Many substances (including some solvents and decontaminates) can also cause a color change in this paper; hence, it is only reliable as an indicator of the possible presence of a chemical agent. Positive detector-paper tests should be verified using the chemical-agent detector kit.

(4)  The M9 (LAD) chemical-agent detector paper is gray-green and has an adhesive back. The adhesive back is protected by a white paper backing until dispensed from the roll. The paper is 2 inches wide and 30 feet long. Each roll is contained in a cardboard dispenser equipped with a cutter edge. The dispenser is packaged in a foil-type shipping bag. A resealable plastic storage bag is included for storing the dispenser after removal from the shipping bag. The detector paper detects a chemical agent during all types of weather conditions. It is worn by individuals or attached to vehicles or a piece of equipment. The detector paper indicates the presence of a liquid chemical agent. When a liquid chemical touches the paper, a pink, red, red-brown, or red-purple spot appears. The spot may be as small as a pinhead or as large as a dime.

(5)  The chemical-agent monitor (CAM) is a portable, hand-held instrument used to determine and indicate a vapor hazard of G-series nerve agents and H-series blister agents in the air. The CAM is used to search for clean areas, to detect and locate contamination on personnel and equipment, and to monitor for the effectiveness of decontamination operations. The CAM is sensitive enough to monitor levels of contamination at the lowest concentration levels that could affect personnel over short periods. The CAM displays concentration levels on a liquid crystal display.

d.  Individual Actions Before a Chemical Attack. If a platoon determines that it is subject to an imminent chemical attack or downwind vapor hazard, each individual should take the following precautionary measures:

  • Assume MOPP2, 3, or 4 (depending on the situation).
  • Attach M8/M9 paper to personnel and vehicles.
  • Cover as much equipment as possible.
  • Ensure chemical-agent alarm is operating.
  • Ensure decontamination equipment is accessible.
  • Be prepared to move from location.

e.  Individual Actions During a Chemical Attack. Soldiers may be affected by a chemical attack either directly on or upwind from their positions. In either case, the soldiers should immediately stop breathing, put on their protective masks, clear masks, check for seal, give the alarm, don protective clothing if not on already, and continue the mission.

(1)  If the attack is recognized as a chemical spray attack, soldiers should use a protective cover, such as a poncho or shelter half, to further protect themselves from liquid droplets. After the spray has stopped falling, individuals can throw off the cover, avoiding contaminating clothing and equipment.

(2)  When friendly forces use chemical agents, the headquarters directing the fire mission provides the necessary safety information to friendly platoons that may be affected by the mission. Individuals take the same protective measures they would take against a similar type of enemy chemical attack.

f.  Individual Actions After a Chemical Attack. Each soldier should remain masked and continue his mission. He should give any needed first aid to casualties in the near area and report the local casualty status to his next higher leader. Contaminated skin, clothing, and equipment should be decontaminated as soon as possible.





g.  Conditions of Unmasking. In the absence of command guidance, the procedures described below are followed by the senior person present.

(1)  Procedures When a Detector Kit is Available. The chemical-agent detector kit M256 is used to test for the presence of chemical agents. If there is not any evidence of agents, two to three individuals unmask for 5 minutes, then remask. They are observed for chemical-agent symptoms for 10 minutes in a shady area. (A shady area is used because light causes contraction of the pupils, which could be mistaken for a nerve-agent symptom.) If no symptoms appear, the rest of the soldiers may unmask. Soldiers are warned to remask immediately if anyone suspects that a chemical agent may be present.

(2)  Procedures When a Detector Kit is not Available. The following is an emergency field expedient when friendly elements have been masked for prolonged periods, when there are no remaining signs of chemical agent use, and when the platoon has no detector kit available. Two to three soldiers are selected to hold deep breaths, break the seals of their masks, and keep their eyes wide open and hold their breath for 15 seconds. They then clear their masks, reseal them, and wait for 10 minutes. If symptoms do not appear after 10 minutes, the same soldiers again break their seals, take two or three breaths, and clear and reseal their masks. After another 10-minute wait, if symptoms have not developed, the same soldiers unmask for 5 minutes and then remask. After 10 more minutes, if symptoms have not appeared, they report to the company/team commander and wait for instructions before unmasking. The area can be assumed to be all clear and the commander may order unmasking. Soldiers are warned to remask if for any reason they may suspect a chemical agent is present.

h.  Mission-Oriented Protection Posture. Once chemical agents have been employed or while the threat of enemy chemical attack exists, the battalion commander decides whether to keep all soldiers masked and in chemical protective clothing, or only a certain number. This decision is based on the estimated threat of enemy use of chemical weapons, mission of the battalion, type of activity required, and temperature. The steps taken are expressed as a MOPP level. Whenever possible, the commander specifies the MOPP level before the mission. He may later direct that the protection be modified, based on his on-the-spot estimate of the situation and operational limitations. The MOPP level directed by the battalion commander specifies what equipment to wear and what precautionary measures are to be employed. (See Table 2-7 for the protective clothing and equipment required under the various MOPP conditions.) Additionally, there is a special category of MOPP known as "mask only." The "mask only" command may be given if there is no transfer hazard and if the agent is determined to be nonpersistent. These levels apply to the individuals inside or outside the vehicle in all cases. The following factors should be considered by the platoon and squad leader when working under any of the MOPP conditions.

Table 2-7. MOPP Levels and Protective Equipment.

(1)  Heat Exhaustion. Soldiers operating at moderate to heavy work rates while in chemical protective gear may experience heat exhaustion (dizziness and fainting) at any time, especially in hot weather. Because of increased sweating, they need more drinking water than normal.

(2)  Fatigue. Soldiers in full chemical protective clothing and equipment tend to experience fatigue because of such factors as mask breathing resistance, rise in body temperature from work energy, solar heat, and psychological and physiological stress. This condition of fatigue increases the need for more rest breaks and sleep to maintain individual alertness and efficiency.

(3)  Senses. Soldiers who are required to perform duties involving the senses or related functions, such as manning an observation post, tend to operate at lower levels of efficiency while wearing protective equipment. Individual performance levels depend on training and proficiency. Even simple functions, such as talking on the radio and looking through weapon sights, become difficult while wearing the protective mask.

(4)  Personal Needs. Soldiers cannot be in full chemical protection for indefinite periods and still attend to certain personal needs such as eating, caring for wounds, shaving, and eliminating body wastes. The platoon leader should plan for these needs by coordinating with the company commander for movement to an uncontaminated area.

i.  Chemical Decontamination Techniques. When a force is chemically contaminated, its combat potential drops. In order to minimize the erosion of combat potential, decontamination must be performed. (Table 2-8.)  The seven standard techniques used to remove contamination and restore combat potential are:

  • Skin decontamination.
  • Personal wipedown.

Table 2-8. Decontamination Techniques.

    • Operator's spraydown.
    • MOPP gear exchange.
    • Vehicle washdown.
    • Detailed troop decontamination.
    • Detailed equipment decontamination.

The platoon would be involved in and should have knowledge of at least the first five techniques. The first three techniques are categorized as basic skills decontamination techniques. The next two, MOPP gear exchange and vehicle washdown, are hasty decontamination techniques. The purpose of hasty decontamination is to sustain the combat potential of a contaminated force by limiting spread of the contamination. The benefits gained may allow temporary relief or MOPP reduction. Hasty decontamination should be done as soon as possible. A squad can do both of the techniques in about 45 to 60 minutes as it moves among the fighting position. These techniques should begin within 6 hours. The vehicle washdown is most effective if it is started within an hour of contamination.

(1)  Skin Decontamination. If chemical agents get on bare skin, it is an emergency. The best technique for removing or neutralizing this contamination is by using skin decontamination. This is a basic soldier survival skill and is performed using the M258Al skin decontamination kit. Decontamination should begin within one minute to be most effective.

(2)  Personal Wipedown. The personal wipedown technique removes or neutralizes contamination on the hood, mask, gloves, and personal weapon. Soldiers also use the M258Al skin decontamination kit to perform personal wipedown. (Figure 2-118.) Personal wipedown should begin within 15 minutes of being contaminated.

Figure 2-118. M258Al Skin Decontamination Kit.

(3)  Operator's Spraydown. The operator's spraydown technique should begin right after finishing personal wipedown. The spraydown removes or neutralizes contamination on surfaces that operators must frequently touch to do their missions. This can be done using the ABC-M11 or M13 portable decontamination apparatus, which dispenses DS-2. (Figure 2-119.)  Each vehicle has one M11 decontamination apparatus that contains 1 1/3 quarts of DS-2 decontaminating agent and one can of DS-2 replacement fluid or one M13 decontamination apparatus, which has a capacity of 14 liters of DS-2. These are on the interior left front of the BFV, behind the driver. The M11 decontamination apparatus is used to decontaminate vehicle parts that must be touched to operate the vehicle. These areas include the driver's compartment and the turret controls. DS-2 must be removed by washing after 30 minutes contact time to prevent corrosive damage to the equipment. MOPP4 gear must be worn when using DS-2.

Figure 2-119. Decontamination Apparatus.

(4)  MOPP Gear Exchange. The MOPP gear exchange is conducted by the contaminated squad (occasionally platoon) and supported by company NBC NCO and the company supply section that provides decontaminants and new overgarments. When performing MOPP gear exchange, soldiers are paired into buddy teams. The teams are spaced around a circle, with 1 to 3 meters between each team. (See FM 3-5 for a detailed explanation.) (Figure 2-120.)

Figure 2-120. MOPP Gear Exchange.

(5)  Vehicle Washdown. The vehicle washdown is supported by the battalion's power-driven decontamination equipment crew or a chemical company decontamination squad. The vehicle washdown greatly reduces the transfer hazard on equipment. Every vehicle is washed with hot soapy water for two to three minutes. Because speed is important and detection is difficult, vehicles are not checked for contamination after vehicle washdown is completed. Only gross contamination is removed. See FM 3-5 for a detailed explanation.

(6)  Detailed Troop and Detailed Equipment Decontamination. Detailed troop and detailed equipment decontamination are classified as deliberate decontamination operations. Deliberate decontamination operations remove sufficient amounts of contamination to allow soldiers to safely operate the equipment at reduced MOPP levels for extended periods. It requires that the platoon be taken out of battle; however, when it is finished decontaminating, the platoon has its combat power restored. It will no longer need to operate in full MOPP4. Deliberate decontamination is done as part of an extensive reconstitution effort in brigade, division, and corps support areas. Ordinarily, the chemical unit selects a site, sets it up, and conducts the equipment decontamination with assistance from the contaminated platoon. The troop decontamination is set up and operated by the contaminated platoon with some technical assistance from the chemical unit.

(a)  Key weapon systems (TOW, 25-mm gun, and coaxial machine gun) are decontaminated by using DS-2, soapy water, or solvents. Ammunition is decontaminated by washing with soapy water, wiping with organic solvent, drying, and aerating.

(b)  Optical instruments, such as the integrated sight unit and starlight scopes, are decontaminated by using the M258Al kit or blotting with rags, wiping with lens-cleaning solvent provided with the sight, and then allowing them to dry.

(c)  Communication equipment is decontaminated by airing, weathering, or hot air (if available). The metal parts of field telephones and radios are decontaminated with DS-2 and then wiped with rags.

(d)  For biological decontamination, the BFV can be decontaminated by applying STB slurry. It is left on for 30 minutes, then removed by washing. (STB is provided to platoons by the company headquarters, which gets it from the battalion supply section.) The BFV is washed with a detergent solution and rinsed with a high-pressure water stream, or it is steamed clean, using a detergent.

(e)  Weapons are decontaminated using household bleach solution or soap and water. Working parts and surfaces should be dried and lubricated after decontamination. Contaminated clothing is disposed of by burning or burying, or decontaminated by laundering.


The techniques become increasingly less effective the longer they are delayed. Vehicle washdown is most effective if started within one hour but will often have to be delayed for tactical and logistical reasons.



Lesson 2 Part L
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