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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)



Planning for the employment of chemical units is a continuous process by both the supported and supporting unit. Planners take the commander's intent and guidance and develop the plans. Both current and future actions should be considered.



Examine the mission. Plans should cover ways to enhance the survivability and mobility of friendly forces and assist in the regeneration of combat power. Plans should include both the forward combat area and the rear areas.


Plans should include--

  • Organic chemical assets.

  • Resources available from higher headquarters.

  • Materials and equipment available from the host nation.


Chemical unit planning must be coordinated with all staff elements, especially the operations (G3/S3) and logistics (G4/S4) sections. Understanding the enemy NBC threat is critical and requires close coordination with the intelligence (G2/S2) section. Maneuver must not be restricted by friendly smoke operations. The employment of NBC recon elements should not duplicate the effort of conventional recon assets. Decontamination operations are resource intensive and require a large amount of coordination with the logistics staff sections. Careful deployment and coordination with adjacent and supported units and fire support elements will enhance chemical unit survivability. Friendly units must know the location and intent of all chemical units to avoid fratricide ("friendly fire"). Chemical unit operations must be logistically supportable.


Planners should exclude unnecessary elements and reduce essential elements to the simplest form. They must eliminate all possibilities for misunderstanding.


Clearly define command and support relationships and fix responsibilities.


Designate an alternate headquarters to assume responsibility if the primary headquarters is out of action.


Chemical units must be able to react to unexpected situations. To weight the offense or defense, commanders must be prepared to shift chemical unit's from sector to sector and provide chemical unit support throughout the depth of the battlefield.


Chemical units will operate away from their parent units. Electronic and NBC warfare, along with the sheer size of the battlefield, will make communications difficult. The plan must establish a command and control system and provide specific measures to adopt in the absence of direct communications links or control. The commander's intent must provide the understanding necessary to continue actions in the absence of other guidance.


Delegate authority, yet keep necessary control. Within available time, planners must develop the recommended chemical unit task organization, establish priorities, determine specific task and area responsibilities, and coordinate as necessary. Before implementation, chemical unit plans are coordinated with the force staff and approved by the force commander.



The various command and support relationships provide a wide range of options for task organizations. To select the best relationship, commanders and staff planners must study the situation and its requirements. The selected task organization must provide the most responsive, effective chemical support to facilitate future operations. When maximum control is needed, attachment and operational control are the best. Attachment and OPCON are best when situations are uncertain, communications are unreliable, logistical support is required from the supported unit, or a need exists to task organize at subordinate levels.

On the other hand, when the senior commander needs flexibility in changing priorities or shifting assets, general and direct support relationships are appropriate. They are also appropriate for short-term, area, or rear area support.

In addition to the command or support relationship selected, there are several other significant considerations in allocating chemical resources. The apportionment of chemical assets will be based on the mission, the enemy, the terrain, and the chemical units, equipment, materials, and time available. Because resources are limited, chemical assets will often concentrate in vital areas rather than be distributed throughout the force. This should be worked out by the chemical staff and commander, based upon decisions and guidance of the force commander.

Plans are made for smoke and NBC recon support to the reserve upon its commitment. These plans should be made early enough for proper preparation. Although smoke and NBC recon units are not normally held in reserve, commanders must consider the survivability of the reserve forces when allocating chemical assets.

Chemical unit support of the forward maneuver forces must be balanced with support of rear area operations. Understanding enemy capabilities and intent of NBC weapons use will be critical in determining the balance of support to forward maneuver units and to rear areas.

Habitual relationships should be considered when allocating chemical units. This means that it is benifical to have the same chemical unit support a given unit. By creating habitual relationships, mutual confidence and respect are developed between the chemical unit and the supported unit. This habitual relationship starts with peacetime training to build confidence, develop mutual understanding and respect, ease problems of coordination, and strengthen cohesiveness on the battlefield.


Commanders at all levels must clearly specify priorities and taskings for chemical unit support. Plans must consider the entire spectrum of chemical unit support. This includes NBC recon, large-area smoke generation, decontamination, and chemical staff support. Commanders also must consider the resources needed to move the materials necessary for smoke and decontamination operations. The responsibilities of each chemical unit must be clearly established.


Chemical officers, commanders and staff officers, at all levels are responsible for coordinating chemical unit support. Request for support from subordinate units are consolidated and implemented in a timely manner. If insufficient chemical support is available at their level, requests for support are forwarded to the next higher headquarters.


The chemical unit estimate is an orderly step of the planning process in command and staff actions. It is a realistic appraisal of the effort required to support an operation. It serves as the basis for chemical unit task organization.

With the commander's mission analysis and planning guidance, the chemical officer identifies the advantages and disadvantages of each course of action. A recommendation is developed from the best course of action. The chemical officers base their estimate on mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops, and time available (METT-T).


The chemical officer must consider the commander's mission analysis and guidance. He must determine any stated and implied missions in the chemical area. He must consider the type of units supported, their equipment, and their status.


The chemical officer analyzes the enemy, his likely courses of action, and NBC capabilities. He must know the enemy's capability to attack, defend, delay, or reinforce, and the type, range, and amount of NBC weapons available to them. An understanding of the enemy's target acquisition systems will determine the type and amount of smoke support needed. Understanding where and when the enemy may employ NBC weapons will allow the planner to focus the effort and allocation of NBC recon assets. Additionally, decontamination needs can be determined by knowing what units could become contaminated.


Terrain analysis will indicate how the enemy may employ NBC weapons. Of greatest concern are avenues of approach, existing obstacles such as gaps, difficult terrain (such as wooded, mountainous, or urban areas), and defiles. The effect of the terrain on smoke operations must be considered. The effects of weather on NBC and smoke operations must be considered. Additionally, the mobility of chemical units under adverse weather conditions needs to be addressed. Weather also controls the duration of chemical hazards.


The chemical officer considers the type and number of available chemical units. The status and capabilities of each chemical unit is also considered as well as the availability of resources such as decontaminants and fog oil.


Time is a major factor in determining the amount of chemical support available. The time required to move chemical units around the battlefield must be considered when developing a plan. The time required by various chemical units to perform selected missions also must be considered. A decontamination platoon can only decontaminate a finite amount equipment in a given period. This is also true for an NBC recon unit. A recon platoon can only reconnoiter a given area of terrain in a given time. The chemical officer must keep these factors in mind throughout the estimating process.


The chemical unit estimate allows the chemical unit commander to quickly, thoroughly, and logically conduct his analysis.


The chemical officer restates the mission from the commander's mission analysis. All assigned specific and implied tasks are considered.

Situation and Courses of Action

The chemical officer determines all facts or logical assumptions that influence the situation and choice of a course of action. From the METT-T analysis, he includes the terrain and weather characteristics and the enemy and friendly situations.

The chemical officer lists the tactical courses of action from the commander's guidance. He may include additional courses of action, if appropriate. He determines the chemical unit support required to support each course of action. He considers contamination avoidance, protection, decon, and large-area smoke support requirements. The corps estimate focuses on the requirements of the chemical battalions, the division estimate for chemical companies, and the brigade for chemical platoons. At this point the estimate is unconstrained by resources. This technique allows the chemical officer to consider all needs and advise the commander of the support requirement for each level. It also enables the chemical officer to respond quickly to changes in time and resources. He then compares estimated resources to available resources. If significant shortfalls exist, he evaluates the requirements by priority and revise the estimate until the planned requirement matches resources available.

Analysis of Courses of Action

The chemical officer in conjunction with the remainder of the staff wargames each course of action and determines the probable outcome. Enemy opposition is also considered during the wargaming process. The advantages and disadvantages of each course of action is determined.

Comparison of Courses of Action

The chemical officer compares the advantages and disadvantages of each course of action. He decides which course of action will be most successful for the mission. This can be accomplished through the use of a decision matrix.


In his recommendation, the chemical officer addresses the allocation of chemical units: task organization, command and support relationships, and priority of support. Before presenting the estimate to the commander, the chemical officer coordinates with key staff members. The chemical officer then provides the commander a complete recommendation telling who, what, when, where, why, and how. The estimate may be written or oral. The chemical officer may give an oral briefing separately or as part of the G3/S3 estimate.


Having heard the chemical officer and other staff estimates, the force commander announces his decision. With his chemical officer's advice, the commander specifies his concept for the commander's decision. The staff then prepares the orders.


Based on the force commander's decision for chemical unit employment, the plans and orders are prepared. The chemical unit either prepares or provides advice for the preparation of the chemical unit portion. When a chemical staff section is present on the force's staff (corps--corps chemical section, division--division chemical section), this staff section normally prepares the chemical portion of plans and orders. This will be accomplished in close coordination with the chemical unit S-3. Combat orders for chemical operations are issued from all headquarters in the name of the commander.

At division and corps levels, operations orders and administrative and logistics orders usually contain separate chemical support annexes. At echelons below division, orders are less formal and, on occasion, may be oral. A chemical support combat order should be--

  • Clear. All agencies must understand it thoroughly.

  • Complete. Required information and instructions to coordinate and execute the operation.

  • Brief. Unnecessary details are avoided. However, clarity and completeness are not sacrificed for brevity.

  • Accurate.

  • As unrestrictive on subordinate commanders as possible.

  • Timely. Chemical support orders must allow subordinate commanders adequate planning and preparation time.


Chemical units will prepare orders for their subordinate element. At the chemical brigade and battalion level, these orders are normally written products. At the chemical company level, orders can be either written or oral, depending on the amount of time available. If the company prepares a written order, it is normally of a matrix format (see Appendix F). Chemical staffs will prepare chemical support annexes or include instructions in the basic orders outlining tasks and responsibilities to supporting chemical units.


Fragmentary orders are issued in lieu of a complete order in fast-paced combat situations. They provide specific instructions to commanders or timely changes to existing orders. Fragmentary orders do not have a specified format. However, the five-paragraph combat order format is normally used. It will include only necessary elements changed from the original order. The fragmentary order may be issued orally. Generally, the fragmentary order--

  • Is addressed to each action commander.

  • Is provided for information to higher and adjacent units for information, as applicable.

  • Refers to a previous order.

  • Includes changes in task organization, situation, and mission.

  • Clearly provides brief and specific instructions.

Following the commander's approval, the plan or order is published and the chemical unit staff begins action to ensure timely and proper execution- -a key element of the battle command.

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