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NBC Warfare in Jungle Areas

Section I. GENERAL

Jungle areas require exceptionally high standards of discipline and conditioning to maintain an effective NBC defense readiness. The demand for these higher standards results from the jungle's high temperature and humidity and heavy rainfall. Sunlight and wind are reduced within thick jungles due to the vegetation. These conditions affect NBC operations because they reduce the chances that NBC agents will disperse, thus increasing their impact on operations in that area.




The initial effects of nuclear blasts are not significantly reduced by jungle foliage. The canopy may provide some protection against thermal radiation. The blast wave will blow down many trees and cause flying debris. These fallen trees may restrict movement, but may also improve observation and fields of fire of some weapons. Fallout may be temporarily retained in the jungle canopy, reducing the immediate hazard. Later rains, however, will wash these particles to the ground and concentrate them in low areas. These areas are likely to become radiation "hotspots."


Jungle climates favor the use of biological agents. Biological agents thrive in heat, humidity, and shade. As with chemical agents, downwind and spray hazards will be reduced by the lack of wind in the jungle. Strict supervision of field sanitation and adequate purified water supplies will provide the best defense against biological agents as well as control natural diseases in the jungle.



  I. General

 II. Conditions Created by NBC Agents

III. Actions Taken to Protect Troops


If jungle enemies use chemical weapons, they can cause serious problems for US troops. Persistent agents delivered by means of artillery shells will remain effective for long periods under the canopy. The jungle heat will vaporize chemical agents that are delivered in liquid form. Because of low wind speeds, these vapors will hang in the air and remain hazardous for long periods. The downwind hazard, however, will be reduced. Likewise, the danger from sprayed agents will be reduced. Protective masks and clothing will be uncomfortable in high heat and humidity. Commanders must plan for a decrease in performance by soldiers in this environment. They should also plan for heat casualties. Finally, NBC equipment must be maintained so that it does not rot, mildew, or rust.



When temperatures rise to the 85 to 100 degree Fahrenheit range, troops can be expected to continue moderate or heavy workloads only if they are permitted to reduce their mission oriented protection posture (MOPP) level. This increases the risk of chemical casualties if the unit comes under chemical attack. Vision, especially downward vision, is limited while wearing the mask. While these factors tend to discourage the wearing of protective equipment, leaders must balance the need to accomplish their mission as opposed to the NBC threat.

As in any other environment, the commander must plan his MOPP level based upon the mission and the estimate of the chemical threat. The level and the length of exertion are important factors. Long-term efforts, such as a road march, are more taxing than short-term, high-energy tasks, such as an assault.

A commander considering protective measures should keep two principles in mind. The first is that although troop safety is an important consideration, the accomplishment of the mission is of greater importance. The second is that even though a higher level of protection increases the risk of heat casualties, these casualties are not as hazardous or as long lasting as are chemical casualties. Heatstroke, for example, is fatal about 50 percent of the time, but makes up a very small percentage of all heat casualties. Physical conditioning and acclimatization of soldiers have an impact on how long they can operate in protective equipment.

Assuming troops are acclimatized, work rates can be exceeded for short periods if adequate rest and water are provided. In all cases leaders must balance the chances of exposing their units to heat exhaustion or chemical agents to the need to accomplish the mission. The ideal MOPP is the category that provides the highest degree of protection from chemical effects and still permits the mission to be accomplished.

The following measures can improve unit efficiency at any MOPP level:

  • Rotating heavy work among elements or individuals
  • Authorizing longer and more frequent rest periods
  • Providing adequate drinking water
  • Using truck possible or air transport when possible

NOTE: For further information, see FM 21-40.

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