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Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons can cause casualties, destroy or disable equipment, restrict the use of terrain, and disrupt operations. They can be used separately or in combination to supplement conventional weapons. The reconnaissance platoon must be prepared to operate on an NBC-contaminated battlefield without degradation of the platoon's overall effectiveness. This appendix prescribes active and passive protection measures to avoid or reduce the effects of NBC weapons.


Chemical agents cause casualties, degrade performance, slow maneuver, restrict terrain, and disrupt operations (Table E-1). They can cover large areas and may be delivered as a liquid, vapor, or aerosol and can be disseminated by artillery, mortars, rockets, missiles, aircraft spray, bombs, land mines, and covert means.

Table E-1. Characteristics of chemical agents.

Table E-1. Characteristics of chemical agents.


a.   Toxins. Toxins are poisonous substances produced from living organisms. Toxins—

  • Can be synthesized (artificially produced).
  • Mirror the symptoms of nerve agents.
  • Present 8-12 hours of tactical concern (destroyed by sun).
  • Can be fast acting (neurotoxins) or slower acting (cytotoxins).

b.   Pathogens. These are infectious agents that cause disease in man and animals, such as bacteria, viruses, and rickettsiae. Pathogens have the following characteristics:

  • Delayed reaction (incubation 1-21 days).
  • Multiply and overcome natural defenses.
  • Vectors (diseased infected insects) circumvent protective clothing and prolong hazards.

c.   Protection from Biological Attack. Protective measures against biological attack include the following:

  • Up-to-date immunizations.
  • Good hygiene.
  • Area sanitation.
  • Physical conditioning.
  • Water purification.


a.   Effects. The following are effects of nuclear detonations:

(1)   Blast. High-pressure shock wave crushes structures and causes missiling damage.

(2)   Thermal Radiation. Intense heat and extremely bright light causes burns, temporary blindness, and dazzle.

(3)   Nuclear Radiation. Energy released from nuclear detonation produces fallout in the form of initial and residual radiation, both of which can cause casualties.

(4)   Electromagnetic Pulse. Surge of electrical power occurs within seconds of a nuclear detonation and damages electrical components in equipment (radios, radar, computers, and vehicles) and weapons systems (TOW, Javelin,).

b.   Protection from Nuclear Attack. Cover and or shielding offers the best protection from the immediate effects of a nuclear attack. This includes cover in fighting positions, culverts, and ditches. Soldiers should cover exposed skin and stay down until the blast wave passes and debris stops falling. Immediately after a nuclear attack, the platoon leader should begin continuous monitoring for radiation using the AN/VDR-2 radiacmeter.


Protect the force by adhering to three tenets of NBC defense: contamination avoidance, protection, and decontamination.

a.   Contamination Avoidance. Avoiding NBC attacks and hazards is the key to NBC defense. Avoidance allows commanders to shield soldiers and units, thus shaping the battlefield. It involves both active and passive measures. Passive measures include training, camouflage, concealment, hardening positions, and dispersion. Active measures include detection, reconnaissance, alarms and signals, warning and reporting, marking, and contamination control.

b.   NBC Reconnaissance. NBC reconnaissance is the detection, identification, reporting, and marking of NBC hazards. NBC reconnaissance consists of search, survey, surveillance, and sampling operations. Due to the limited availability of the M93 FOX reconnaissance vehicle, consider, as a minimum, the following actions when planning and preparing for NBC reconnaissance:

  • Use the IPB process to orient on NBC threat NAIs.
  • Pre-position reconnaissance assets to support requirements.
  • Establish command and support relationships.
  • Assess the time and distance factors for the conduct of NBC reconnaissance.
  • Report all information rapidly and accurately.
  • Plan for resupply activities to sustain NBC reconnaissance operations.
  • Determine possible locations for post-mission decontamination.
  • Plan for fire support requirements.
  • Enact fratricide prevention measures.
  • Establish MEDEVAC procedures.
  • Identify NBC warning and reporting system (NBCWRS) procedures and frequencies.

c.   NBC Protection. NBC protection is an integral part of operations. Techniques that work for avoidance also work for protection (for example, shielding soldiers and units and shaping the battlefield). Other activities that comprise protection involve sealing or hardening positions, protecting soldiers, assuming mission-oriented protective posture (Table E-2), reacting to attack, and using collective protection. Individual protective items include the protective mask, battle dress overgarments (BDOs), green vinyl overboots, and gloves. The corps or higher level commander establishes the minimum level of protection. Subordinate units may increase this level as necessary, but they may not decrease it.

Table E-2. MOPP levels.

Table E-2. MOPP levels.

d.   NBC Decontamination. Use of NBC weapons creates unique residual hazards that may require decontamination (decon). In addition to the deliberate use of these weapons, collateral damage, natural disasters, and industrial emitters may require decontamination. Contamination forces units into protective equipment that degrades performance of individual and collective tasks. Decontamination restores combat power and reduces casualties that may result from exposure, thus allowing commanders to sustain combat operations.

(1)   Principles of Decontamination. Use the four principles of decontamination when planning decon operations:

  • Decon as soon as possible.
  • Decon only what is necessary.
  • Decon as far forward as possible (METT-TC dependent).
  • Decon by priority.

(2)   Levels of Decontamination (Table E-3).

(a)   Immediate. Immediate decontamination requires minimal planning. It is a basic soldier survival skill and is performed in accordance with STP 21-1-SMCT. Personal wipedown removes contamination from individual equipment using the M291. Operator spraydown uses the on-board decon apparatus with DS2 (M11 or M13) to decontaminate surfaces that an operator must touch or contact to operate the equipment.

(b)   Operational. Operational decontamination involves MOPP gear exchange and vehicle spraydown. MOPP gear exchange should be performed within six hours of being contaminated when thorough decon cannot be performed. Vehicle washdown should be performed within one hour of being contaminated when the mission does not permit thorough decon. The process removes gross contamination and limits the spread of contamination.

(c)   Thorough. Thorough decontamination involves detailed troop decontamination (DTD) and detailed equipment decontamination (DED). Thorough decontamination is normally conducted by company-size elements as part of restoration or during breaks in combat operations. These operations require support from a chemical decontamination platoon.

Table E-3. Comparison data for decontamination levels.

Table E-3. Comparison data for decontamination levels.

(3)   Decontamination Planning Considerations. Leaders should include the following when planning for decontamination:

  • Plan decon sites throughout the width and depth of the sector.
  • Tie decon sites to the scheme of maneuver and templated NBC strikes.
  • Apply the principles of decontamination.
  • Plan for contaminated routes.
  • Plan for logistics and resupply of MOPP, mask parts, water, and decon supplies.
  • Plan for medical concerns to include treatment and evacuation of contaminated casualties.
  • Maintain site security.

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