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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chapter 2

Unit Organizations

There are several organizations that have the primary mission of performing NBC reconnaissance. This chapter provides an overview of the organization and capabilities of NBC recon units.

Heavy Division NBC Recon Platoon

The heavy division NBC recon platoon consists of an officer and 19 enlisted soldiers. It is organized with a platoon headquarters and three recon squads (Figure 2-l). The platoon is equipped with six M93 NBCRS (Foxes) or M113A2 APCs.

The platoon headquarters provides command and control for the platoon. It consists of the platoon leader and the platoon sergeant (PSG). During operations, the platoon leader and PSG ride in two of the squad's vehicles. Each squad is composed of a squad leader, an assistant squad leader, and the crews, which man two M93 NBCRSs or M113 APCs. Each vehicle and crew comprise a team.

Armored Cavalry Regiment NBC Recon Platoon

Each chemical company assigned to an armored cavalry regiment has an organic NBC recon platoon. These platoons are organized identically to the heavy division NBC recon platoon. Each platoon may be equipped with either M93 NBCRSs (Foxes) or M113 APCs.

Light Armored Cavalry Regiment NBC Recon Plt

The light armored cavalry regiment's chemical company has two NBC recon platoons. Each platoon is organized with a platoon headquarters and two recon squads. The platoons are equipped with four M93 NBCRS.

NBC Recon Company

There are two types of NBC recon companies. One is equipped with armored carrier versions of the HMMWV; the other is equipped with twenty-four M93 NBCRS vehicles. The authorized personnel strengths of the two types of companies vary slightly.

NBC recon companies operate in corps, division, and TAACOM areas. Normally, the company is deployed as a separate company in the corps under control of the chemical brigade. However, the company may be attached to a corps chemical battalion.

Each NBC recon company has a headquarters and three NBC recon platoons. Each platoon has four NBC recon squads equipped with HMMWV or M93 NBCRS.

The mission of the company is to provide NBC recon support for elements of a corps or theater army. Each corps is allocated one of these companies. Figure 2-3 shows the structure of the company.

NBC Recon Teams (LA/LB)

The NBC recon team (LA) provides NBC recon support to a unit or to augment the NBC recon efforts of a specific unit. LA teams are allocated to separate brigades. An LA team also may perform NBC recon at the site of a nuclear, biological, or chemical strike, and provide NBC data to the NBC center (NBCC) or supported unit commander. It collects, examines, and identifies NBC contamination and has limited capability to evaluate NBC data. Each LA team has two HMMWVS and is 100 percent air mobile. This NBC recon team depends on the supported unit for all logistical and administrative support.

The NBC recon team (LB) provides NBC recon support to a special forces unit. LB teams are allocated on the basis of one per special forces group. These units are assigned or attached to units organized into composite chemical combat support (CS) units. These CS units provide NBC recon support under diverse circumstances. The LB team performs NBC recon in a very similar manner as the LA team.

The LB team also can provide NBC technical knowledge about the enemy's NBC personnel, materiel, techniques, and tactics. It can analyze and assist in the disposition of captured NBC intelligence and materiel. The LB team performs strategic NBC recon operations of theater requirements, using unconventional warfare techniques. It collects NBC intelligence and provides technical knowledge pertaining to the enemy's weapon capabilities, techniques, and disposition. The LB team is parachute qualified. It depends on captured vehicles or the supported unit for transportation and for a great deal of its communication requirements. For further information concerning this team see FM 3-18.

NBC Recon Unit Organization for Combat

The NBC recon platoon leader organizes his or her platoon to accomplish the mission based on mission, enemy, troops, terrain, and time (METT-T). The platoon normally operates in one of four organizations: team, squad, section, or platoon.


Each vehicle in the platoon can operate independently on the battlefield to accomplish very specific tasks. These tasks include point surveys, sampling, and limited surveys to find bypass routes. This organization should only be employed for short periods during rear area operations.


Squad is the basic organization for the NBC recon platoon (see Figure 2-4). The platoon leader and platoon sergeant split the platoon headquarters section, and each operates with a squad. This organization provides for the most flexibility in assigning missions to the platoon. The squad is incapable of supporting themselves. When they are operating independently, logistical support must be carefully coordinated.


Section organization is used when the platoon leadership is needed to supervise the execution of a mission. It is formed by splitting the third squad and adding one vehicle each to the first and second squads to form Alfa and Bravo sections. These sections are under the command and control of the platoon leader and PSG, respectively (see Figure 2-5). Platoons in the chemical recon company rarely form this organization because of the four-squad configuration. However, it is possible to form a two-section organization by merging two squads together. This is the least preferred organization because it does not provide for maximum use of the specialized platoon.


The platoon organization is the most difficult to control (see Figure 2-6). The platoon is employed in this fashion when it is necessary to conduct a large zone reconnaissance. This organization provides little flexibility to the supported commander.

Unit Capabilities

In determining how, when, where, and what size element to employ, commanders, staffs, and NBC recon leaders at all levels must consider METT-T. The leaders must also consider the advantages and disadvantages of employing a specific size element and how it relates to mission accomplishment. The following paragraphs highlight the advantages and disadvantages of M93-NBCRS- and M113/HMMWV-equipped units.

Advantages and Disadvantages of M93-NBCRS-Equipped Units

  • Conduct NBC recon and survey on the move.
  • Vehicle capable of keeping up with maneuver forces.
  • Built-in vehicle orientation system for navigation.
  • Greater mobility allows greater area coverage.
  • Conduct NBC recon mission without exiting the vehicle.
  • Detect and identify all known chemical warfare agents.
  • Overpressure system allows crews to operate in contaminated environment without masking.
  • Provide location data to better delineate contamination.
  • Vehicle swims readily with little preparation.
  • Vehicle air conditioner allows the vehicle's identification and detection equipment to operate under extreme conditions.
  • Vehicle marking system allows contamination to be marked without exposing the crew.
  • Ability to store data on unknown suspected chemical agents.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Vehicle is not readily recognizable as friendly.
  • Specialized maintenance support requirements.
  • Requires 15 to 20 minutes to initially prepare on-board chemical detection equipment (MM1) for operation.
  • Vehicle is restricted by rough terrain; maintains greatest mobility over level terrain.

Advantages and Disadvantages of M113/HMMWV-Equipped Units

  • Capable of obtaining large samples of suspected Chemical/Biological contamination.
  • Has larger caliber (.50 CAL) weapon system.
  • Vehicles are more recognizable as friendly.
  • Maintenance/repair parts are easily obtainable.
  • Can keep up with maneuver forces over rough terrain.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Crew must conduct operations in MOPP 4 while in contamination.
  • Vehicle must stop to conduct survey and detection.
  • Vehicle has difficulty keeping up with maneuver force over flat terrain.
  • Readings obtained using M256A1, detector paper, and CAM are not as reliable as MM1 readings.

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