UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


FM 34-54: Battlefield Technical Intelligence




Our ability to collect and analyze toxic and chemical agents in time of war is very important. Clear cut procedures to collect, package, document, and transport chemical warfare samples are needed so that we can collect in a variety of battlefield environments. These procedures are outlined in this appendix. These procedures are critical for--

    º Battlefield commanders who need to know if the enemy might retaliate with chemicals and, if they do, how to avoid or safely cross contaminated areas.
    º Medical personnel who provide prophylactic or postcontamination treatment.
    º National leaders who ensure that foreign governments comply with existing CB warfare treaties.

This appendix provides guidance for acquiring and packaging suspected CB samples for safe shipment. It also designates the elements who carry out these tasks. This includes procedures for proper handling, labelling, packaging, and transporting suspected CB samples from the battlefield to the laboratory.


Current battle doctrine presupposes a nonlinear battlefield where nuclear and chemical weapons are tactically integrated. By using long-range weapons, the depth of the battlefield is extended and close-in, rear, and deep operations may be fought concurrently.

Operations in this environment are extremely fluid and highly lethal. Clearly, NBC doctrine and procedures, including reconnaissance operations are critical to mission accomplishment.

Commanders must consider the potential for enemy use of biological weapons. They must be prepared to act quickly when chemical or biological warfare is suspected to minimize its effects. Some of the indications of CB warfare are:

    º Unexplained sickness or death.
    º Ordnance (munitions) containing known or suspected CB agents.
    º Attacks involving an unknown causative agent.
    º Outbreaks of mission-degrading symptoms.

When CB warfare is suspected, samples are collected, labelled, secured, and transported to the appropriate facility for analysis.


Samples suspected of containing CB agents are divided into two categories according to their origin: environmental and biomedical. Both medical and nonmedical units and teams are responsible for collecting samples suspected of containing CB agents.

Use the following procedures to collect and manage environmental and biomedical samples following a suspected CB attack. WEAR APPROPRIATE MISSION-ORIENTED PROTECTIVE POSTURE(MOPP) CLOTHING. The packaging procedures listed here can ensure the safety of personnel handling the samples in transit as well as making sure that the samples are not contaminated. Use the following procedures to identify and document environmental and biomedical samples.


Personnel responsible for the collection of environmental samples are--

    º NBC reconnaissance teams
    º TECHINT teams.
    º Preventive medicine units.
    º EOD teams.

NOTE: When possible, obtain background samples from "clean" areas beyond the perimeter of the attack site and use these as baseline data for comparisons. Collect these the same way you collect samples from contaminated areas; however, package each of the samples separately.

Complete a Sample Documentation Form 1, Agent Data, on all samples. (See Figure H-1.) Use agent detector kits. Record the results on the Sample Documentation Form 1; this form can be used with the NBC-6 report.

Types of Samples

Environmental CB agent samples are collected in the field. They include samples of--

    º Liquid aerosols or vapor.
    º Vegetation.
    º Soil.
    º Water.
    º Small animals.
    º Equipment and ordnance.

Packaging Samples

Package the samples in accordance with the instructions that follow.

Liquid aerosol and Vapor.

To sample liquid aerosols vapors--

    º Use an electric or hand pump to collect the air in two Tenax GC-Type Chemical Tubes. (Record the type of pump used and the volume sampled.)
    º Return the sampling tube to the piglette.
    º Mark the outside with a sample identification code. See Figure H-2.
    º Close the ends tightly.
    º Attach a Sample Documentation Form.

Vegetation. Collect vegetation which appears in any way different from normal nearby vegetation, such as discolored or withered vegetation or vegetation having powder or droplets present. Vegetation samples should be collected at several locations within suspected contaminated areas. To collect samples--

    º Cut several affected leaves or a handful of grass. (Do not crush the sample.)
    º Place the sample in a mylar bag and seal it.
    º Collect similar reference vegetation from an unaffected area and place it in a separate mylar bag and seal. The minimum sample size of value is three leaves or three handsful of grass.) One leaf is of little value but is better than nothing. Bark is acceptable but not preferred.
    º Mark the bag with a sample identification number.

Soil. Collect samples from areas stained with oils or powders, from discolored areas, or from areas that look different in appearance from the surrounding soil. A similar soil sample from an unaffected area is needed for reference (soil of the same type and texture is preferred.) The minimum sample volume is approximately the size of a cigarette pack on its side.

    º Use a knife, spoon, spatula, or piece of metal to collect the sample.
    º Place the sample in a mylar bag.
    º Mark the bag with a sample identification number.

Water. Use the M272 water test kit or other appropriate test kit to--

    º Determine the presence of chemical agents.
    º Record the test results on a Sample Documentation Form 1.
    º Take samples at standing pools or along streams where dead animals are seen.

To collect bulk water samples (preferred when oily globules or suspended solids are present):

    º Skim surface water into teflon bottle.
    º Fill the bottle, screw on the top, and ensure the seal is leak-proof with parafilm or plumber's antiseize tape.
    º Mark a sample identification number on bottle.

When using the SepPak Cartridge for liquid sampling, consider the following:

    º The C-18 SepPak cartridge extracts and concentrates contaminants in water.
    º Methanol and distilled water is used to prime the SepPak.

Slowly draw 200 milliliters (ml) of sample water through the cartridge with a 50 ml syringe. Discard the liquid and syringe. Place the cartridge in a teflon battle marked with a sample identification number.

To obtain a sample of sludge on the shore or from a shallow bottom:

    º Scoop the top of solids with an open bottle.
    º Close the bottle and seal it with parafilm.
    º Mark the bottle with an identification number.
    º Place several sample bags in one mylar bag.
    º Place the reference samples in a separate mylar bag. (Do not overfill.)
    º Press excess air from the bag and seal the adhesive end.
    º Seal the package with tape.
    º Mark sample identification number(s).
    º Include the Sample Documentation Form 1.

Small Animals. Mammals are preferred. To package small animals for evacuation--

    º Place the animal in a mylar bag.
    º Press excess air from this bag.
    º Seal the adhesive flap and seal the bag with tape.
    º Mark with sample identification number.
    º Attach the Sample Documentation Form 1.

Equipment and Ordnance. Before approaching or handing any exploded or unexploded ordnance, contact the DOD unit for assistance. The EOD unit attempts to identify the ordnance by physical characteristics or markings and then render it safe. If the ordnance is CB in origin, EOD packs the sample in the field and transfers it to a TECHINT element for transfer to CONUS.

The sample must be marked with a sample identification number. It must be documented with the Sample Documentation Form 1 and DD Form 1911, Materiel Courier Receipt.

Protective equipment and clothing from casualties can be important sources of CB agent samples. To get a sample--

    º Place the equipment or clothing in a large mylar bag.
    º Fold, expel excess air from the bag, and seal.
    º Mark the bag with an identification number.
    º Place the bag in a second mylar bag.
    º Seal and mark with an identification number.
    º Complete and attach the Documentation Form 1.
    º Forward the sample to TECHINT for transfer to corps G2.


We get biomedical samples from acutely ill soldiers having symptoms of CB agent intoxication or from personnel killed in an attack. The following elements collect these samples:

    º Battalion-level medical units.
    º Division-level medical treatment facilities.
    º Combat zone hospitals.
    º Communications zone hospitals.
    º Evacuation hospitals.
    º NBC reconnaissance teams (small animals only)
    º Medical TECHINT teams.

In the theater of operations, these team can obtain biomedical samples from patients and cadavers.

The best biomedical sample is an acutely ill soldier or a cadaver evacuated to CONUS immediately. Complete Sample Documentation Form 1, Figure H-1, Sample Identification and Control, Figure H-2, and Sample Documentation Form 2, Figure H-3 on all biomedical samples. A copy of the physical examination or an extract of significant findings is enclosed with the biodmedical samples.

The following samples should be collected whenever casualties occur. They should be collected in triplicate; distributing two within CONUS and sending one to the area medical laboratory.

    º Urine.
    º Whole blood or serum.
    º Sputum.
    º Cerebrospinal fluid.
    º Organs and tissues.
    º Mediastinal lymph node.

Once collected, samples are refrigerated or chilled immediately. DO NOT FREEZE. Sample Documentation Forms 1 and 2 (see Figure H-3) are completed on all biomedical samples. Medical personnel perform biomedical sample collection to ensure that a valid sample is obtained. The following guidance applies to collecting samples.

    º Collect samples from patients during acute phase and at day 7.
    º Collect urine samples (20-50 ml per sample x 3) in urine specimen cups. Secure the top of the cup with wide tape, and place the cup in individual sealable bags.
    º Collect whole blood or serum samples (5ml per sample x 3) in red-top blood tubes and place in individual, sealable bags.
    º Collect sputum only from acutely ill patients (x 3). These samples are collected in urine cups. Secure the cup with wide tape and place it in individual sealable mylar bags.
    º Collect cerebrospinal fluid (2 ml per sample x 3) in red-top blood tubes and place in individual, sealable bags.
    º Take at least 30 grams of organs or tissues (human, postmortem x 3) and place in a sterile container in individual, sealable bags. Refrigerate immediately. (Liver, spleen, lung, subcutaneous fat, cerebral spinal fluid, kidney, heart, and brain.)
    º Collect at least two mediastinal lymph nodes.
    º Take animal tissue samples as a lower priority to human samples.
    º Animals should be mammalian only (no birds).

Once critical and significant biomedical samples are identified in OCONUS, they are turned over to TECHINT for disposition to appropriate laboratories (CONUS or OCONUS). Sample Documentation Forms 1and 2 provide sample and corroborative information.


Biomedical samples must be properly packaged. Proper packaging keeps the sample from getting contaminated. It also ensures that illness, disease, or death does not result during transport and storage. To properly package biomedical samples:

    º Place the mylar bag(s) or sample container(s) in a plastic bag.
    º Remove excess air and seal tightly.
    º Mark the container with a sample identification number.
    º Place 1 to 2 inches of packing material (vermiculate or foam) around the sample bag in a rigid container.
    º Wrap jars, tubes, or specimen cups in a bubble wrap or other suitable material so they do not move in the container.
    º Place a lid on the container and seal with wide tape.
    º Place the environmental and biomedical samples in an insulated chest.
    º Ensure that the sample is packed tightly and an adequate supply of refrigerant is available.
    º Seal the chest and label accordingly.
    º Inspect the packaging prior to its departure from the OCONUS theater of operation to CONUS.
    º The procedure should further meet the specification contained in TM 38-250, para 10-51; Title 42, CFR71-25; and CFR49, parts 173,386 and 173,387 for etiological agents.
    º Document all samples with Sample Documentation Forms 1 and 2.
    º Number samples per instructions in Figure H-2.
    º Forward samples through intelligence channels to corps G2. (Finding units are responsible for this.)


When it is necessary, the G2 ensures that additional packaging and consolidation of doubly wrapped samples is done before the materiel is shipped on to CONUS. The G2 completes the sample identification in accordance with Attachment B and document sample transfers on DD Form 1911.

Division surgeons send samples through channels to the Corps G2. When people die from CB causes, the division or the corps surgeon coordinates with combat units and graves registration units to transfer the bodies quickly to battalion-, division-, or corps-level medical units or hospitals to obtain biomedical samples. They use DD Form 1911 to document sample transfers.

The corps G2 coordinates sample shipments to approved CONUS and OCONUS laboratories and to the area medical laboratory. The G2 must notify the US Army CB Agent Technical Evaluation Board (CBATEB) within one hour after a sample suspected of containing CB agents is received. The G2 also makes any other required notifications promptly.

Generally, samples are evacuated through MI channels. Combat units make sure samples are delivered to someone who can get the material to the G2. The G2 is responsible for properly packaging, documenting, and notifying packaging. Figure H-5 lists these responsibilities.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list