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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Army forces in conflict or war do not operate alone. They form part of a unified or joint command with other US armed services. Service components engage in unified and joint operations to enhance their total effectiveness in air, land, and sea military operations. Treaties and international agreements also cause these forces to participate in combined operations with forces of allied nations. In this century our major warfighting experiences have been in joint and combined warfare. Future wars involving NBC weapons on a large scale may well occur in this context.


A theater commander controlling unified and/or joint forces integrates NBC defense, smoke, and flame operations into his theater plans to support his strategic and operational objectives. At the strategic level of war the primary NBC goal is deterrence. If deterrence fails, the secondary NBC goal is to cause the enemy to cease NBC warfare at the lowest level favorable to US forces. At the operational level of war the commander uses appropriate nuclear operations or conventional retaliation to accomplish the strategic objectives.

The theater commander's primary NBC responsibilities is NBC defense for the total force. Nuclear weapons employment is a separate category apart from NBC defense. Nuclear weapons employment is described in FM 101-31-1. He conducts NBC defense to enhance synchronized and unified effort. Unified and joint operations use the standardized NBC warnings and reports defined in FM 3-3 and FM 3-3-1. Light forces normally deploy with a brigade-plus for low-intensity conflicts. If intervening headquarters are not available, they report directly to the joint force commander. Chemical downwind message/effective downwind message (CDM/EDM) generation may originate from the joint operational level. The Forward Area Limited Observer Program (FALOP) represents another viable source of CDM data.

NBC Defense for the Total Force

NBC defense for the total force combines the principles of NBC defense, obscurant, and flame operations with a proactive theater-level program of NBC recon, intelligence, obscuration, and deception. Theater-level recon and intelligence gather information on the state of the battlefield and enemy preparedness. Large-area obscuration increases survivability of amphibious operations, enhances protection of port and airfield activities, and reduces vulnerability of joint logistics over the shore operations. Deception at the theater level supports large-scale maneuver. This program supports operational readiness for unified and joint operations.

Operational readiness describes the capability of a unit, weapon system, or equipment to perform the mission or functions for which it is organized or designed. The term expresses a specific level or degree of readiness or a general assessment of how well a force can accomplish its mission. To maintain operational readiness in support of unified and joint operations, commanders--

  • Assess enemy NBC capability and intent.

  • Include appropriate annexes to OPLANs.

  • Assess whether automatic masking procedures should be directed and what conditions should apply.

  • Provide NBC protection guidance.

  • Assess readiness of joint forces under NBC conditions.

  • Determine requirements for chemical units (i.e., smoke, decon, NBC recon).

  • Determine HNS needs for NBC defense and consult with allies.

  • Determine how to sustain operations under NBC conditions (for example, survival of critical fixed sites and mission--essential personnel, resupply of chemical defense equipment treatment of casualties).

  • Assess resiliency of the C2 system under NBC conditions.

  • Determine NBC defense requirements for mission-essential personnel.

During unified and joint operations an effective program of NBC defense will allow friendly forces to maintain a net advantage in operational tempo under NBC conditions. This US advantage may force adversaries to cease offensive NBC warfare to continue the conflict on terms more favorable to them. Additionally, NBC defense allows friendly units to continue necessary combat operations under NBC conditions. This continuation ensures successful mission accomplishment.

Logistical Guidance

US unified and specified commands prepare supporting NBC defense annexes during the joint operational planning process. Include logistical guidance as appropriate. The annexes are part of the OPLANs that involve significant deployment of forces to or within a theater of war. They outline general requirements and critical tasks necessary to execute the OPLAN. They also contain an assessment of the chemical capability required by the OPLAN.

Other Services and Agencies

The joint force commander can direct the Army to furnish NBC defense and smoke support to other services or agencies. When no Army command exists in the required area, he can attach chemical units to another service.


US Army chemical units may participate in combined operations with forces of allied nations. In theaters where the United States has forward deployed forces, they follow principles and procedures developed in peacetime. Existing procedures guide relations with the NATO in Europe and the Combined Forces Command (CFC) in Korea. For theaters in which contingencies occur, and international agreements do not exist, forces adjust doctrinal applications, at the operational or tactical level, to remain within the CINC's emplaced strategic boundaries. Normally, US forces we required to request approval from the host nation through civil-military channels for actions that impact the host nation's environment, personnel, or civil-military operations. This includes approval for decon sites and smoke operations.


Multinational forces achieve interoperability through standardization of--

  • Programs and policies to train and educate the individual soldier and to build unit partnerships.

  • Doctrine, SOPs, and international agreements.

  • Equipment, supplies, ammunition, and weapons.

US chemical doctrine implements existing international agreements. Accords include NATO Standardizationagreements (STANAGS) and US-UK-CA-AUS quadripartite standardization agreements (QSTAGs). NBC defense and smoke doctrine must be compatible so that forces of one nation can effectively assist another. NBC decon and recon are particularly critical. Combined forces must establish common marking, identification, warning, and reporting systems.

Language and cultural differences can cause misunderstandings even when there are common procedures. When possible, units should have liaison personnel who are fluent in their allies' languages. Bilingual lists of symbols and key NBC defense and military terms assist soldiers to perform together effectively.

The sustainment of units is normally a national responsibility when operating with an ally. NBC defense planners must carefully consider sustainment requirements in a combined environment.

Host Nation Support

US national policy includes maximum use of host nation support. This lessens the number of support units the US armed forces would otherwise have to deploy to support the combat forces in a theater of operations.

The use of host nation assets to perform NBC defense and smoke tasks depends upon the nature of the tasks and the ability of the host nation to provide support. Available resources and agreements concerning their use are prime factors in this decision. Payments for contractor services (personnel or materiel) and locally procured supplies and equipment are processed by the servicing finance unit (see FM 14-7). The host nation can provide either military or nonmilitary resources.

Allied Government Agencies

The government builds, operates, and maintains support facilities in many countries. These facilities include weather reporting stations and communications and intelligence facilities. These agencies operate their facilities to support their services and US requirements by agreement.

Civilian Contractors and Civilian Employees

Contractor service can be local, third country, or US contractor using indigenous or third country personnel. Mission-essential personnel providing critical support need NBC protective equipment and training to ensure continued support for sustainment. Provisions to conduct this training are subject to negotiation between US and host nation forces.

Type B Unit Augmentation

These units use limited US military personnel who provide only essential leadership and technical expertise. Host nation personnel fill the remaining positions upon unit deployment. The units provide host nation military units within the US structure. This permits direct supervision of local national soldiers by their own officers and noncommissioned officers. These leaders, in turn, report to the US command structure.

Military Units

The host nation may provide military or paramilitary units to support US requirements for NBC defense or smoke.

Supplies and Equipment

Some supplies and equipment such as decontaminants may be more readily available locally than through the US logistics system.

NATO Operations

The NATO alliance covers a wide range of cultures, languages, governments, allied forces, terrain, and climate. Long-standing agreements and established headquarters with international staffs ease the difficulty of using chemical units in this diverse environment.

Most chemical units operate in a national organization at corps level or below. Cross attachment of allied chemical units is achievable through equipment and procedural interoperability. Corps or theater chemical units can have a specific mission to support allied units. In this circumstance US Army chemical units would be under operational command of the allied maneuver unit.

Each allied nation provides combat service support to its own forces. However, US chemical units can obtain common supply items from allied units and, in turn, provide items to them.

US chemical units in the COMMZ operate in territory under the control of allied governments. These governments use territorial forces to conduct rear operations. They coordinate HNS for US forces. US NBC defense and smoke activities in the COMMZ take place in coordination with the territorial forces.

Within the Federal Republic of Germany the territorial forces provide NATO chemical forces with expertise on the local terrain, available resources, and equipment to perform NBC defense and smoke missions.

Operations With the Republic of Korea

The CFC consists of forces from the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Interoperability in much of the doctrine and capabilities between US and ROK forces enables successful combined NBC defense and smoke operations. Most chemical units in Korea remain within their own national organizations and receive support from them. Combat support coordination teams in ROK army corps also facilitate working relationships between US and ROK units for combined NBC and smoke planning.


Special operations (SO) are actions conducted generally in enemy-held, denied, or sensitive territory by specially trained, equipped, and organized military forces in pursuit of national military, political, economic, or psychological objectives. These operations are essentially of a political-military nature and are affected more directly by political considerations than conventional operations. Special operations may be conducted to meet threats across the operational continuum. They may support or be supported by conventional operations. They may be conducted independently when conventional operations are inappropriate or not feasible. SO may involve forces that are directly controlled by higher echelons, up to the NCA, often with minimal involvement of intermediate headquarters. They are frequently of a sensitive, high-risk nature and may require oversight at the national level. They differ generally from conventional operations in their operational techniques, mode of employment, distance from friendly support, and dependence upon detailed operational intelligence and indigenous assets. By their nature, SO are usually very difficult to support with chemical mission areas.

US Army SOF are comprised of active and reserve component special forces, special operations aviation, rangers, and selected special mission and support units. Also included under SOF management and service proponency are active and reserve component civil affairs and psychological operations units. All SOF have a limited chemical infrastructure and except for small special forces NBC detachments, no organic chemical units. SOF must rely heavily on detection and contamination avoidance. Deployed SOF detachments and their indigenous forces (in unconventional warfare) are normally foot mobile and carry all essential equipment with them. Extended wear of MOPP is unacceptable under almost all circumstances. Timely and accurate intelligence, use of field expedients, foreign or captured NBC equipment, and maximum use of weather and terrain are key principles for SOF operating under NBC conditions.

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