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US forces can face many types of ordnance on the modern battlefield. These can include NBC weapons deployed by US, friendly, or threat forces. Unconventional warfare tactics or terrorist attacks may also include NBC material or the use of IEDs. These weapons pose a serious threat to all operations. Usually these munitions/devices require immediate response by EOD and other supporting elements. This chapter will help the battlefield commander choose the proper course of action to preserve combat power.


Armies engaged in modern combat will often have access to (or have to deal with) a variety of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These weapons, when introduced on the battlefield, will present special handling and disposal problems for the battlefield commander and for supporting EOD personnel. Some of these are touched upon below.

Nuclear Weapons

During hostilities, it is possible that US, friendly, or threat forces will have or use nuclear weapons. These weapons may not have functioned as designed or may have been captured from the enemy in various conditions ranging from undamaged to extensively damaged. There is also the chance of a US or allied country nuclear weapon transportation accident in which US Army EOD may be the first on scene. Whatever the reason, the recovery of a nuclear weapon will require the involvement of EOD and supporting elements. Outlined below are some of the planning factors involved. Refer to AR 50-5 for responsibilities involving nuclear weapon incidents/accidents.

If the weapon is a threat system, Army EOD is responsible for preventing nuclear detonation or a high-explosive detonation. This includes identification, detection, performing RSP, assisting in the gathering of technical intelligence information, and preparing complete weapons or components for shipment.

If the weapon is a US system, the responsible service, either Navy or Air Force, will be notified. The specific service is ultimately responsible for any recovery actions required. Army EOD responsibility for the other service's weapons is to prevent a detonation or the spread of contamination. Once the other service's EOD personnel arrive, Army EOD personnel would help as needed and provide an EOD liaison between the services.

If it is a weapon system of an ally, Army EOD responsibility is to prevent detonation or the spread of contamination and to assist the friendly forces as authorized by command authorities.

The nuclear weapon recovery process could take several days and would require support from a large number of personnel. The area commander must obtain the initial security and support elements. Refer to Chapter 5 for an in-depth discussion of large recovery operations. Some of the support necessary for the recovery operation includes: messing, engineer, RADCON and decontamination, transportation, security, aviation, and medical. Coordination with the other services and the host nation (if applicable) will also be needed to help in the recovery operation.

Chemical and Biological Weapons

CB weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction. They demand a rapid response by EOD and other supporting units to reduce their effects. Army EOD personnel can render safe and dispose of CB ordnance. The responsibilities of EOD personnel in CB incidents are to prevent the spread of contamination; prevent a detonation; and detect, identify, and contain or eliminate explosive and toxic hazards. In the discussion that follows, chemical incidents/accidents are cited because they are more common than biological. However, the procedures are the same for biological, unless noted. For more information on responding to chemical incidents/accidents, refer to AR 50-6.

Upon arrival at the site, EOD positions an EOD CP to coordinate EOD and supporting unit operations. The CP supervisor coordinates with the designated area commander or chemical officer for updated information and mission requirements. The EOD CP provides information on the expected type and extent of contamination. In an emergency, an EOD company can decontaminate EOD personnel and equipment only. NBC-trained personnel must supplement the EOD personnel as soon as possible to complete the mission. The area commander must provide all decontamination, resupply, medical, and security support.

The supported unit's commander or chemical officer handles the disposition of NBC munitions. This disposition is based on information provided by EOD and on the current tactical situation. Chemical (and biological) weapons of intelligence value must be rendered safe and removed to the rear area for exploitation by intelligence agencies. The area commander must coordinate with required supporting elements to secure the items and transport them to the designated area for release to technical escort personnel.


Unconventional warfare or terrorist activities in a TO can include the extensive use of IEDs. These IEDs are mostly conventional high-explosive charges, also known as homemade bombs. However, there is the threat that a CB agent or even nuclear material can be included to add to the destructive power and psychological effect of the device.

Usually, IEDs are of crude design. However, terrorist groups have been known to produce sophisticated devices. Since these devices are nonstandard, there are no specific guidelines for EOD personnel to use to positively identify or categorize them. Highly sophisticated IEDs have been constructed from arming devices scavenged from conventional munitions or from easily purchased electronic components. The degree of sophistication depends on the ingenuity of the designer and the tools and materials available. Today's IEDs are extremely diverse and may contain any type of firing device or initiator, plus various commercial, military, or contrived chemical or explosive fillers.

EOD personnel are trained in the render safe and disposal of IEDs. The addition of NBC material into an IED will require additional support as stated in the other situations above. As with other missions, the EOD CP provides the area commander with an assessment of the situation and of support needed to complete the mission.

This section implements STANAG 2834.


Munitions captured or found on the battlefield can be of intelligence value. Commanders must allow for the evaluation of unidentified or modified munitions. FM 34-54 outlines the procedures for reporting this information through command channels to the intelligence agencies.

EOD personnel are trained to perform technical intelligence evaluations on first-seen ordnance items and to report the required intelligence information. This can include the render safe and transportation of the items to the rear area.

If the mission permits, secure the area until intelligence personnel or EOD determines what the items are and what the intelligence interests might be. If the mission requires that the area be left unsecured, certain considerations must be taken into account. Prior to the destruction of captured ammunition to prevent opposing force recapture, a positive identification of the munitions type and filler should be made by EOD personnel. Destroying ammunition when the contents are unknown can result in the possible release of nuclear, biological, or chemical contamination. EOD personnel are required to do this because it is not always possible to identify ordnance types by color codes or outside markings. Many countries use various markings depending on the type of ammunition involved. Some countries do not use standard markings for any kind of ammunition. Previous intelligence reports or information can be of some help. These reports can describe the type of munitions and may even provide enemy ammunition marking information.

The mission and current tactical situation dictate the action taken, but the commander must consider all factors before destroying unknown ammunition. Therefore, the more data that can be amassed about unknown ammunition, the more informed will be the decision maker.

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