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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

The Chemical Corps' primary focus is to provide combat support to assist the Army fight and win our nation's wars, but the Army and the Chemical Corps will find themselves engaged in operations that may not involve combat. The Chemical Corps is well suited for a number of missions in support of operations other than war (OOTW).

Operations other than war include those operations conducted during peacetime and conflict short of war. It is also possible that these type of operations can be conducted during war as an adjunct to the main effort.

Contingency operations during peacetime normally focus on assisting US, allied, or friendly nation civil authorities to cope with natural or man-made disasters. Typical missions are--

  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

  • Arms control/treaty verification.

  • Support to domestic civil authorities.

Contingency operations during conflict are usually time-sensitive military operations characterized by rapid power projection of combat forces. These operations include--

  • Counterterrorism.

  • Security assistance.

  • Humanitarian assistance.

  • Counterdrug.

  • Peacekeeping.

  • Arms control/treaty verification.

  • Attacks and raids.

  • Noncombatant evacuation.

  • Support to insurgency or counterinsurgency

  • Support to domestic civil authority.


In the past, terrorist groups have attempted to obtain chemical weapons. As growth of NBC weapons continues, this possibility increases. Chemical staffs and units will support counter-terrorist operations by providing NBC defense training to key individuals. Special forces NBC recon detachments can conduct special recon operations to locate terrorist NBC storage sites and/or manufacturing facilities. Chemical units and staffs can provide technical advice and assistance once terrorists have used NBC weapons.

Chemical units and staffs operating in areas where there is a high terrorist threat must take terrorist countermeasures. Soldiers should be trained in common-sense terrorism countermeasures. FM 100-37, Terrorism Counteraction, provides guidance on unit countermeasures.


During the Gulf War, chemical personnel provided security assistance to friendly and allied nations. This assistance involved training of allied military forces in NBC defense techniques. Both chemical staffs and units can provide security assistance support. The Security Assistance Training Program (SATP) has two components - International Military Education and Training Program (IMETP) and foreign military sale program (FMSP) training. The objectives of these programs are--

  • Develop skills required to operate and maintain acquired US equipment.

  • Develop a foreign country's expertise in effective management of its defense establishment.

  • Foster development of a foreign country's professional and technical training capability.

  • Promote US military rapport with counterparts in a foreign country.

  • Promote a better understanding of the US, its people, political system, institutions, and way of life.

  • Increase the awareness of international military personnel on the US commitment to human rights.

IMETP is designed to advance the efficiency, professional performance, and readiness of the recipient armed forces. This training is normally conducted in CONUS, but can occur in other countries. The methods of training vary; formal courses, orientation tours, and on-the-job training are several methods.

FMSP allows eligible foreign governments to purchase defense equipment, services, and training from the US. Training on the maintenance and operation of the equipment is accomplished by two methods - mobile training teams (MTT) or field training services (FTS). MTTs are military personnel on temporary duty to train foreign personnel. The team's size and composition are based on the request submitted by the host nation. The objective of the training is to develop an institutional base with the host nation so that they can then train themselves. FTS is a long-term MTT that can consist of military or civilian employees or contract personnel.


These operations provide emergency assistance to victims of natural or man-made disasters abroad. Chemical staffs and units provide specialized assistance in chemical- or nuclear-related disasters. This can include monitoring and survey, detection and identification of hazards, and decon. In disasters not involving chemical or nuclear hazards, chemical units can provide general support. This support includes providing showers, off-the-road water haul, and limited firefighting capability.


Chemical staff personnel can provide technical expertise to military units involved in counter-drug operations. The manufacturers of illegal drugs use and produce many dangerous chemical compounds. Chemical corps personnel can provide technical advice in the handling and disposal of dangerous chemical materials.

Chemical personnel can provide advice on the destruction of drug labs and related materials using flame field expedients or using defoliants to destroy drug crops.


Peacekeeping forces deployed in countries that possess NBC weapons will require support from both chemical staffs and units. Chemical staff officers and NCOs need to be included at all echelons within the military peacekeeping command. A senior chemical staff officer with a broad range of expertise needs to be included on the staff of the military peacekeeping command. This command exerts overall control of the peacekeeping forces and is normally multinational. The military peacekeeping force commander exercises operational control of the subordinate military forces. Under the military peacekeeping command are military area commands. The military area commands usually consist of a single nation's military force and operates in a specific geographical area.

Chemical staffs organic to the military organizations deployed in a peacekeeping role will provide NBC staff support to their organizations. If the military unit does not have a chemical staff, then the organization should be augmented with a JA or JB team. Ad hoc chemical staffs also can be formed. Depending on the situation and the NBC threat involved, chemical units may be deployed. The organization and type of chemical support package is dependent on METT-T. At a minimum, a chemical company team should be deployed to provide the necessary C2 and logistical support. The use of smoke can provide the peacekeeping commander a valuable means of enhancing force protection through non-lethal means.


Arms control focuses on promoting strategic military stability. Chemical staff personnel provide technical assistance on monitoring the growth of NBC weapons and technology. Chemical officers occupy staff positions in agencies responsible for nuclear and chemical weapons treaty verification. Chemical units and organizations are involved in the demilitarization of chemical munitions and associated equipment.


Attacks by ground, air, and naval forces are used to damage or destroy high value targets or to demonstrate our capability to do so. These operations involve the swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, seize an objective, or destroy targets and end with a planned withdrawal. Chemical staffs and selected chemical organizations may participate in the planning or the execution of attacks and raids. This is especially true if the high value targets are WMD research, production, or storage facilities.


This type of operation is conducted when the situation in a country requires the evacuation or relocation of US citizens, selected host nation personnel, and third country nationals. The operation may take place in a low threat environment or require combat action. Chemical staff personnel will be involved if the host nation possesses an chemical personnel NBC capability. Additionally, can provide expertise on the use of RCAs.


Insurgencies are organized movements to overthrow a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict. The National Command Authority (NCA) may direct US forces to assist either insurgent movements or host nation governments opposing an insurgency. Chemical staff personnel can provide expertise on the use of RCA, flame weapons and commercial chemical threats. As the growth of NBC weapons spreads across the globe, it is possible that forces involved in insurgent/counterinsurgent operations could see the use of chemical weapons. Smoke units could provide smoke screens to obscure friendly activities from hostile forces.


Support to US civil authority are those activities carried out by the military in support of Federal and state officials. These activities are limited by the Posse Comitatus Act. Support provided by chemical units can include disaster assistance, civil disturbance control, and hazard materials response. Decon units can provide an off-the-road water haul capability, fire fighting support, and decon of hazardous spills. Chemical units can provide expertise on the use of RCA during civil disturbance control operations. See FM 100-19, Domestic Support Operations for more detail.

Many organizations are actively involved in providing domestic support. One organization that is involved is the Chemical - Biological Defense Command (CBDCOM), located in the Army Material Command (AMC). CBDCOM has many missions, to include the destruction of the nation's chemical weapons stockpile. The Technical Escort Unit (TEU) (figure 14-1), a battalion-level organization, subordinate to CBDCOM has the mission to respond world wide to accidents dealing with chemical munitions or suspected chemical agents. The TEU was a major component of the Department of Defense response to the Silver Valley incident in 1992. During construction work in Silver Valley, a formerly used defense site (FUDS) in Washington DC, several World War I era chemical munitions were uncovered. The site had been used as a test range for testing chemical munitions during and just after World War I. The TEU and other agencies responded, to include a decon platoon, to this incident. All chemical munitions were removed from the site without any release of hazardous materials.

Chemical personnel, because of the technical expertise in dealing with battlefield hazards and their location in almost all Army tactical organizations from company to theater army will assist in advising commanders on the environment. Because of this, all chemical personnel must understand the how their operations will impact the environment during training and war.

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