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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Chemical units operate throughout the theater of area operations. Numbers, types, and locations of chemical units and headquarters within the organization reflect their intended missions (see Figure 7-1). Figure 7-2 lays out a typical picture of the chemical support available in a theater of operations. Unites are identified by living TOE (LTOE) number. Allocation of some chemical assets is theater-dependent. Exact numbers of chemical units in a specific corps may vary from the figure shown because of the theater-specific differences in NBC support requirements.

Communications Zone

Rear areas are not a haven safe from combat. Enemy forces may present a significant NBC threat to rear area operations. Because of this, echelons above corps require smoke, NBC recon, biological detection, decon, and NBC staff support in the COMMZ. In the COMMZ of the theater of operations depicted in Figure 7-2, an enhanced chemical battalion controls two decon companies, one recon company, and one biological detection company. Additionally, the senior logistics headquarters receive an NBC center team to perform NBC staff functions.

Corps Area

The corps has an assigned chemical brigade. The number and type of chemical units assigned to the chemical brigade depend upon the corps mission and its organization. The corps depicted in Figure 7-2 has 3 chemical battalions that control a total of 16 chemical companies. A biological detection company operates directly under the chemical brigade. This force is a mix of recon, mechanized smoke, smoke/decon, and biological detection units beyond those that are organic to the divisions. It allows the corps commander to send augmentation where it is needed.

The planning allocation for a corps chemical brigade is--

  • The brigade headquarters and headquarters detachment.

  • One NBC recon company.

  • Six or more smoke/decon companies (six per corps plus one per division).

  • Two or more chemical battalion headquarters to command and control assigned companies.

  • One mechanized smoke company per heavy division.

  • One biological detection company.

Chemical units perform their vital combat role throughout the theater of operations, from the FLOT back through the COMMZ. Chemical units provide recon, decon, biological detection, and smoke capabilities to accomplish different tasks throughout the theater. The chemical command and control structure forms these units into an organization that is responsive to commanders at all echelons.

Division Area

Figure 7-2 shows the mechanized and armor heavy divisions with their organic chemical companies. These companies each provide one mechanized smoke platoon, one NBC recon platoon, four decon platoons, and NBC staff support for the division. The division commander (normally with the recommendation of the G3 and the division chemical officer) places these elements in a command or support relationship to his brigades or separate battalion task forces.

The light infantry division does not have an organic chemical company. It relies upon corps augmentation for smoke, decon, and/or NBC recon. The light division has a chemical officer, chemical staff, and NBCC. Maneuver brigades in divisions have a brigade chemical officer and chemical staff NCO. Separate heavy maneuver brigades have a chemical officer, staff, and chemical platoon (smoke/decon/recon) in the brigade headquarters and headquarters company.


Each separate brigade has unique augmentation requirements depending upon its mission. As an example, the separate brigade in Figure 7-2 has been augmented by an NBC element and an NBC recon team. TOE of separate heavy maneuver brigades are being modernized to provide each with a chemical staff and a platoon capable of providing NBC recon and smoke or decon.

Corps Armored Cavalry Regiment

The armored cavalry regiment (ACR) is highly versatile and may operate at extended distances. Therefore, it must be able to operate fairly independently for extended periods. The ACR chemical company is shown in Figure 7-2. The ACR chemical company provides smoke, NBC recon, decon, and NBC staff support to the ACR. Its smoke/decon platoon normally supports a cavalry squadron with either large-area smoke or equipment decon. However, smoke and decon operations cannot be done simultaneously. The light armored cavalry regiment (LACR) operate in much the same way as the ACR and also has an assigned chemical company. The LACR chemical company provides NBC recon, decon, and NBC staff support to the regiment.

Corps-Level Units

The corps structure normally includes a chemical brigade. This brigade provides chemical units to perform NBC recon, decon, and smoke support throughout the corps area.

Chemical Brigade

The corps chemical brigade commands and controls two or more chemical battalions and separate units. The brigade headquarters is organized to provide operational, intelligence, administrative, and logistical support to subordinate chemical battalions. The brigade provides NBC recon, decon, biological detection, and smoke support throughout the corps area.

Chemical Battalion

A chemical battalion consists of three to seven chemical companies. The battalion provides command and control of these companies in the corps and division areas. Battalions are task organized to provide smoke, decon, biological detection, and/or recon support with a mix of chemical companies. At corps, motorized smoke and decon companies are being replaced by dual-purpose smoke/decon companies.

Chemical Companies

Several types of chemical companies are located in the corps and are organized into chemical battalions. These include both motorized and mechanized smoke companies, decon companies, NBC recon companies, biological detection, and dual-purpose smoke/ decon companies.

Motorized smoke companies operate from the main battle area (MBA) rearward in the defense and as far forward as the line of departure in the offense. Typical missions include screening obstacle emplacement, vital rear-area installations, or river crossings, and deception operations. A company can screen areas up to approximately 7 kilometers in width and several kilometers in depth.

Mechanized smoke companies have light armor (i.e., ballistic)protection. They have the mobility to operate in support of maneuver forces but are vulnerable to enemy weapons when operating with forward elements. Typical missions include screening battle positions, flanks, and river crossings; obstacle breaching; and deception operations. A company can produce smoke screens up to approximately 3 kilometers in width and several kilometers in depth. Both motorized and mechanized smoke companies assist in deception operations.

Decon companies provide equipment decon support to elements of the corps and division. Decon operations forward of the brigade rear must be augmented with maneuver combat forces for security and survivability. Decon missions are conducted on or as close to the original site of contamination as possible. They operate independently by platoon or in conjunction with other elements in the corps or division area of operations.

Biological detection companies support the corps and ASCC. Each company is equipped with 35 Biological Integrated Detection Systems (BIDS), which are capable of providing a near-real time indication of specific biological agents. The company is arrayed to provide coverage through the supported units area of operations or to protect specific high risk biological targets.

Smoke/decon companies support both light and heavy divisions. Each of these dual purpose companies has the ability to set up equipment decon sites in support of brigades and division rear or provide a smoke screen up to 7 kilometers wide.

Division-Level Units

Heavy Division

Each heavy division has an organic chemical company. This company provides smoke, decon, recon, and chemical staff support. It is normally under the operational control of the division chemical officer.

Airborne/Air Assault Division

Airborne and air assault divisions have organic chemical companies. These companies provide smoke, decon, and chemical staff support under the operational control of the division chemical officer.

Light Division

Light infantry divisions do not have organic chemical companies. Light divisions have a chemical staff organic to the division HHC. The parent corps receives a smoke/decon company for each light infantry division assigned. The division chemical officer requests appropriate additional support from the corps when required.

Chemical Service Organizations

The mission of chemical service organizations is to provide or augment NBC recon, decon, and staff support. The number and types of units in the theater of operations form the basis for allocation of this support. Chemical service organizations are allocated to separate brigades, corps, and other operational level units.

Chemical service organizations include JA and JB teams that provide NBC operations support to units over one or two 12-hour shift. These teams also augment a tactical operations center NBCC to provide NBC operations support to units over two 12-hour shifts.

Additionally, the recon LB Team (Special Forces) provides a special forces group with NBC recon support in all environments to include enemy held, denied, or sensitive territory. It collects NBC intelligence and provides technical knowledge pertaining to the enemy's weapons capabilities, techniques, and dispositions.

Modular Force Packaging

To meet the requirements for a contingency operations, it may be necessary to form chemical force packages to perform a specific task. Each force package requires a command and control cell or headquarters. The force package can be built around a company, battalion, or brigade. It will be task organized to meet the specific needs of the deploying commander.

Chemical forces perform combat functions in wartime and offer a variety of mission capabilities in operations other than war. The Chemical Force Deployment Matrix shown as table 7-1 is a decision aid to help deploying commanders and staffs tailor the deployment force for specific functions in the theater of operations. The focus at the functional level allows task organization of the correct mix of forces to accomplish the mission.

Enter the matrix at either the Tactical or Operational level. Then, based on mission analysis, determine the chemical functions necessary for success. The footnote following each chemical function equates to a deployment category with a minimum deployment package shown at the bottom of the matrix.

Chemical mission areas fall into the following categories:

  • NBC defense

  • Smoke and obscurants

  • Nonlethal operations

  • Flame

The chemical functions and forces required to execute these missions are summarized below:

Chemical units operate under two types of relationships-command and support. A command relationship reflects the chain of command and degree of authority. A support relationship represents the manner in which the maneuver unit is to be supported.

In the tactical planning process the chemical brigade staff recommends the appropriate command or support relationship between the chemical unit and the supported unit. This relationship defines the specific responsibilities between supporting and supported units. Generally, chemical units at corps and division levels establish support rather than command relationships. Each situation is unique and requires its own solution. Whatever the relationship, chemical unit commanders remain responsible for the missions undertaken by their subordinate elements.


Command Relationships

Chemical units can operate in one of three command relationships-assigned, attached, or OPCON. Assignment is the normal relationship when a parent unit directly commands its subordinate units. In this case the parent unit is responsible for all command responsibilities, personnel actions, and logistics support.

The parent unit may attach a subordinate unit to a supported commander when the parent unit cannot provide adequate logistical support or timely command decisions. Attachment to another headquarters means that all command and logistics responsibilities are transferred to the receiving headquarters.

Operational control is appropriate when a supported unit commander needs task organization authority over chemical units, but the parent chemical headquarters can provide continued logistics support. The parent chemical unit coordinates with logistics organizations to make this viable.

Support Relationships

When a support relationship is established, the parent unit retains command responsibility. The parent unit also remains responsible for logistics needs of that subordinate unit.

A GS relationship is appropriate when the higher headquarters requires central control and flexibility in using limited chemical assets. In this relationship, support is to the force as a whole rather than to a particular subunit of the force. Corps and division chemical units normally are retained for GS missions unless specific units require a higher degree of responsiveness.

A DS relationship provides support that is directly responsive to the needs of a specific combat, combat support, or combat service support element. It is usually for a single operation or a short period. A higher headquarters may use DS when it expects a change to the task organization that will require shifting of chemical units to other locations. This relationship precludes further task organization of the chemical unit by the supported commander.

Task Organization

Chemical units work most efficiently under the control of a parent chemical unit. This organization permits close control and the most productive use of all chemical assets. The commander continuously monitors the progress of assigned tasks and shifts elements where the need is greatest throughout his area of operations.

On the other hand the supported unit commander at the lowest level gets greater responsiveness when the chemical unit is under his direct control. He determines the task organization and gives missions directly to the units under him.

The decision whether to provide chemical units in a command or a support relationship is a balance between the needs of the higher commander for flexibility and the needs of the subordinate commander for responsiveness. Army operational doctrine is based on securing or retaining the initiative and exercising it aggressively to accomplish the mission; it requires subordinate commanders to seize the initiative whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The corps may provide each committed heavy division with a chemical battalion task organized to support the commander's intent and in a command or support role appropriate for the mission. Light infantry divisions are normally provided a dual-purpose smoke/decon company. Units are provided in either a command or support relationship. The chemical unit commander deploys his subordinate elements based on his estimate.

At each echelon, commanders use organizational principles to guide the use of chemical units. These principles include the following--

  • Task organize to meet requirements. Mission requirements drive size and composition of task forces. A mix of chemical units is often necessary to achieve the proper balance of capabilities.

  • Give priority to the main effort. There are not enough chemical assets on the battlefield to handle all tasks. Chemical units are not spread evenly across the battlefield but are concentrated with the main effort to ensure its success.

  • Integrate chemical support with maneuver and fires. The scheme of maneuver governs the use of smoke and recon assets.

  • Do not hold smoke and NBC recon units in reserve. Smoke assets are too scarce and valuable to be held out of the fight. They must refit quickly and return to their primary mission.

  • Make logistically sustainable plans. Resources are always limited. The availability of water, fuel, and fog oil restricts chemical unit ability to execute smoke and decon missions. Chemical unit sustainment and supporting logistics must be planned in detail.

  • Maintain effective battle command. Effective plans use all available controlling headquarters and hand off operations smoothly between them.

A commander controls subordinate elements both by his presence and leadership at critical events and through use of his headquarters. The commander at each echelon uses his headquarters to control operations. He relies upon chemical unit command and control elements to ensure that the tasks he assigns are successfully executed. These chemical command and control elements consist of the chemical officer on the supported commander's staff, chemical unit commanders, and the staffs of those units.

Role of Chemical Commanders and Staff Elements

Chemical officers at each echelon provide information, make routine decisions within the authority delegated to them by the commander, and perform staff supervision of NBC defense, non-lethal use, smoke, and flame operations.

Theater Army Chemical Officer

The Army Service Component Command normally includes the Army Service Component Command Chemical Officer (formerly Theater Army Chemical Officer). He is a member of the Army Service Component Commander's special staff. He integrates NBC defense and nuclear weapons use into the Army Service Component Command's plan to sustain Army forces and support joint and coalition operations.

Corps Chemical Officer

The corps staff includes the corps chemical officer. He is a member of the commander's special staff. He has staff responsibility to the corps commander for all NBC-related matters in the corps area of operations, including the use of the chemical brigade. He is assisted in this task by the corps chemical section. This section prepares NBC annexes, estimates, and SOPS. It helps plan the use of nuclear weapons. It operates an NBCC that processes and distributes NBC reports and maintains radiation dose status of corps units. It also prepares fallout predictions and chemical downwind hazard predictions.

Division Chemical Officer

The division chemical officer is a member of the commander's special staff. As such he is responsible to the division commander for all NBC-related matters in the division's area of operations. Corps chemical units in the division area provide liaison to him. He is assisted by a chemical staff section and NBCC located within the division command posts. The chemical section supports operations at the tactical, main, and rear command posts. Under his direction they coordinate NBC matters to integrate NBC defense, non-lethal, smoke, and flame planning into division operations. The chemical section provides advanced warning of future division operations to the division and supporting corps chemical units. The division chemical officer keeps the division staff informed on current NBC operations within the division. He coordinates division NBC mission tasks and priorities to assigned, attached, or supporting corps units on behalf of the division commander.

Separate Brigade and ACR Chemical Officer

Separate maneuver brigades, ACRs, and LACRs have a chemical officer and chemical section organic to the brigade. Currently, separate brigades are authorized a chemical platoon with a smoke, decon, and NBC reconnaissance capability. ACRs and LACRs have an organic chemical company that provides smoke, decon, and NBC recon support.

Brigade Chemical Officer

The chemical officer at brigade level (or brigade equivalent) is the primary adviser to the commander on NBC matters. He integrates NBC and smoke considerations into the brigade planning process and coordinates current operations in the brigade area. The brigade chemical officer receives required reports from divisional and corps units in the brigade area. He keeps the brigade staff and the division informed on NBC activities. He passes brigade taskings to supporting chemical units on behalf of the commander.

Special Forces Group Chemical Officer

Special forces groups, airborne (SFGA) have a chemical officer and NCO assigned to the group headquarters. They function as a staff section located within the special forces operational bases (SFOB). SFGA have chemical detachments organic to the groups under the operational control of the group chemical officer. These detachments provide NBCC and decon support to the SFOB and forward operating bases. When available, LB teams (SF recon) provide NBC recon support to special forces groups in all environments to include enemy held, denied, or sensitive territory.

Battalion Chemical Officer or NCO

Combat and some combat support battalions are authorized a chemical officer; nonmaneuver battalions are authorized a chemical NCO. The battalion chemical officer or NCO serves in the headquarters operations (S3) section and integrates NBC and smoke into the battalion or battalion task force's planning process. He monitors execution of the NBC portions of the operation. He makes operational reports through the S3 and provides other required reports as necessary. Battalions authorized LDSs (for example, armor and mechanized units) are also authorized a decon specialist (54B10) who serves as the operator and maintainer for the LDS.

Company Chemical NCO

All TOE companies except HHCs are authorized a company level chemical NCO. The company chemical NCO is the commander's chief advisor on all aspects of NBC defense and smoke. He provides the commander with an organic source of chemical expertise for planning and conducting NBC defense operations. He ensures that all platoons, squads, and sections can operate their assigned NBC equipment. He trains company personnel to support a operational or thorough decon operations.

Role of Chemical Headquarters

During the development of courses of action in the tactical planning process, the chemical planner recommends allocations of available chemical units. Whenever possible, he aligns their operational boundaries with those of the maneuver forces. This is particularly important at division level.

Commanders task organize chemical units based upon their tactical estimate. A chemical company can normally command up to six platoons. A chemical battalion can command up to seven chemical companies. These can be a mixture of corps and divisional elements operating under chemical headquarter elements.

Corps Chemical Brigade

The chemical brigade headquarters coordinates the combat support operations of assigned and attached chemical battalions. The chemical brigade staff provides input to the corps chemical officer as he integrates NBC defense, to include large area biological detection and smoke considerations into corps plans. The chemical brigade staff then conducts the detailed planning from its command post necessary to implement the tasks assigned by the corps order. The staff's time is primarily used acquiring and positioning resources needed for future operations. The staff's role in current operations is limited to coordinating the activities of the brigade's subordinate battalions and solving problems that hamper the completion of tasks critical to corps operations.

The brigade staff enables the commander to control chemical units in the corps rear and for its units that are forward with committed divisions. The brigade assigns portions of the corps area to subordinate units.

Chemical Battalion

A chemical battalion headquarters coordinates the combat support operations of assigned or attached chemical units. Depending on the types of companies assigned or attached, the battalion can provide smoke, decon, and recon support in its assigned area of the corps. The command or support relationship established in the corps order determines how a division can use a corps battalion in its area. When a battalion is provided to a division, the battalion staff completes the detailed planning from its command post for the division chemical officer who is required to implement tasks in the division order. The chemical battalion headquarters can control division companies or other corps companies in addition to its own. When in direct support of the division the battalion is well suited as a command and control headquarters for all chemical operations.

Division Chemical Company

As with higher headquarters the company helps the division chemical officer fulfill his role as special staff officer. The division chemical officer integrates recon, smoke, and decon into the division plan. The remainder of his staff and the company does the detailed planning to support the plan. The staff solves or recommends alternatives to logistics problems that prevent completion of any critical chemical task within the division.

In some circumstances the division chemical company may be required to provide a command and control headquarters for attached forces. The company is the lowest chemical echelon that can plan and execute continuous operations in support of tactical forces. The platoons of the company are ideally suited for integration into task force operations and provide the priority task force with the chemical assets to accomplish its mission.

Chemical Platoon

The chemical platoon is the lowest-level conventional chemical unit that can effectively accomplish independent tasks. For that reason chemical units rarely operate in smaller increments than this, and then only for specific actions of limited duration. Due to the limited chemical units available, some brigades and task forces may operate without dedicated chemical unit support.

Chemical Teams

The LB (recon) team (special forces) provides NBC recon support to the special forces group in all environments to include enemy held, denied, or sensitive territory. It may deploy augmented by Special Forces Detachment A (SFODA) team members, as an augmentation to an SFODA, or operate independently. The LB team is the lowest level that can effectively accomplish independent tasks.


Accurate, timely information is vital to effective battle command. Chemical staffs and chemical units use information of both an operational and a technical nature. They communicate through operations channels to keep their higher headquarters informed on current missions and to plan future ones. They communicate through chemical channels for technical information and as an alternate means of passing operational information that is not time-sensitive. Unit SOPs identify the type and the frequency of reports needed at each echelon and the method for reporting.

Unit Status

Unit capabilities depend upon the status of personnel, equipment, and logistics. Since these all fluctuate in the course of an operation, it is important for decision makers to have current information at hand. As maneuver commanders need to know chemical unit status in broad terms, chemical commanders and staff officers need detailed information about the units they support. They use this information to remedy specific deficiencies and make plans that a unit can execute.

Mission Status

No operation ever proceeds exactly according to plan. Both maneuver and chemical unit commanders need to know the progress of an operation. Chemical units and staffs keep the immediate commander informed on critical tasks, such as smoke or NBC recon. They also forward technical information upward and laterally for other chemical units' use.

NBC Status

The division NBCC operates the NBCWRS and maintains the radiation exposure status (RES) of division units. It also prepares fallout predictions and downwind hazards and analyzes NBC vulnerability analyses for division units.

The corps NBCC operates the NBCWRS and conducts NBC vulnerability analysis. The center monitors the RES of corps units and prepares fallout predictions and downwind hazard predictions.

At EAC NBC warning and reporting is provided by NBCC teams. These teams augment the TAACOM and ASGs.

Liaison Officer

An NCO or chemical liaison officer (LO) to another headquarters (for example, corps or division headquarters) facilitates improved exchange of information. The chemical LO is thoroughly familiar with the current situation of his own unit and his commander's intent to include the concept of operations. For example, he provides unit locations (for example, decon points), overlays, and OPLANs reflecting NBC recon, smoke, and decon plans and readiness factors such as personnel strengths and logistics considerations. The LO also receives briefs on the current status and missions of the unit to which he is being sent. Coordination is also accomplished to ensure needed transportation, communications (for example, frequency and call sign), and translator/interpreter requirements are met.

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