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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Protection and Decontamination

Individual Protective Equipment

The BDO/CPOG becomes unserviceable if it is ripped, tom, or a fastener is broken or missing; or if petroleum, oils, or lubricants are spilled or splashed on the garment. Chemical protective glove set, greenback vinyl overboot, and chemical protective footwear covers become unserviceable if ripped, tom, punctured, cracked, or if the rubber becomes sticky. Serviceability tests for the chemical protective gloves set. Fill each glove with air and submerge in water, checking for air leaks. Fill glove with water and check for water leaks. Any leaks make the glove unserviceable. NOTE: See FM 3-4, Chapter 2, for detailed information.

When the commander directs his unit to go from MOPP Zero to MOPP1, the chemical officer/NCO will determine BDO/CPOG days of wear. Upon completion of the mission, the unit returns to MOPP Zero, and overgarments are returned to their vapor-barrier bag. The chemical officer/NCO at company or battalion level estimate the number of days of BDO/CPOG wear for his unit. Then uses the information on days of overgarment wear as input for risk assessment.

Filter Exchange Criteria

Filter exchange criteria for all NBC falters in the inventory-from the mask filters to the filters on the simplified collective-protective equipment (SCPE)--are based on design, physical condition, climatic conditions, and the possible agent that could be employed. The following paragraphs discuss peacetime, transition-to-war, and wartime exchange criteria.


When assessing filter exchange criteria, consider several factors. Commanders and NBC personnel must monitor replacement schedules for pieces of NBC equipment with filters. Peacetime exchange criteria for all filters is based on the following conditions:

  • Physical damage occurs.
  • Immersion in water, or filters have become water logged by other means.
  • High resistance to airflow is observed.
  • Directed by higher headquarters.
  • Listed as unserviceable in SB 3-30-2.

NOTE: When filters are listed as unserviceable in SB 3-30-2, they still can be used as training filters.

Transition to War

Leaders consider NBC issues when preparing for deployment. As part of that process, commanders will determine when their units should remove their training filters and replace them with filters from unit contingency stocks. The commander's guidance should be reflected in an SOP or order. Factors for consideration on whether to exchange filters include unit location, unit readiness/deployability alert status, last time falters were exchanged, threat, time available, and stocks available. For example, a forward deployed unit commander, based on an enemy chemical capability in the area of operation, directs by SOP that his or her unit install its contingency set of filters. Alternatively, a CONUS-based unit commander determines that the basis for installing contingency falters would occur upon an increase in unit alert status for deployment to an area with an NBC threat.

Considerations commanders should use before initiating filter exchange include:

  • Mission--What is the unit mission?
  • Enemy--What is the current threat assessment with respect to use of NBC weapons? Is our unit likely to encounter attack on arrival in the operational area?
  • Terrain--Where should filters be exchanged: at home station, en route, or in the operational area?

Troop Preparation

Plan Ahead

  • Check NBC defense guidance on OPLAN/OPORD; anticipate projected work requirements in the next 24-48 hours.
  • Ensure serviceability or shortfalls of equipment through precombat inspections of NBC equipment.
  • Know the most current weather data, particularly wind direction.
  • Plan work/rest cycles appropriate to the environment and the mission.
  • Ensure deployment and mounting of alarms.
  • Use SOPs to reduce command, control, and communication tasks.
  • Keep plans simple.

Think Teamwork

  • Use methods of individual identification (name tags, personal items).
  • Encourage "small-talk" while in MOPP.
  • Pair an experienced soldier with an inexperienced "buddy" whenever possible.
  • Use the buddy system to ensure that all members of the unit are regularly checked for signs of stress and agent exposure.

Work Smart

  • Provide relief from MOPP4 as soon as the mission allows.
  • Use world/rest ratios, slow work rate, and minimize work intensity.
  • Work in the shade whenever possible.
  • Enforce command drinking to reduce dehydration and heat casualties.

REMEMBER--the most motivated soldiers and leaders are the most likely to ignore their needs for food, water, and rest.

  • Use collective protection as much as possible.
  • Enforce good eating, drinking, and sleeping discipline.
  • Rotate jobs and people during long shifts or periods of inactivity.
  • Provide relief from extreme temperatures (hot or cold) as soon as possible.
  • Remember that even short breaks from total encapsulation are effective in sustainment performance.
  • Augment units or divide work between two units.
  • Schedule work for a cooler time of day or at night.

MOPP Analysis

Use intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) to determine--

  • An estimate on how many enemy fire support systems are in range, where, and what they are.
  • How to support probable enemy courses of action (COA).
  • Enemy's intent and capabilities.
  • Enemy tactical doctrine.
  • An evaluation of arms of operation and times of interest set by the commander.
  • Terrain and weather.
  • Threat integration (how the enemy will fight).

Prior planning based on information provided by the chemical officer will help the commander make sound decisions. Regular updates need to be provided to the commander because of rapid changes in the situation.

Using IPB, provide the commander and staff:

  • Detailed information on enemy NBC capability based on the type of weapon systems that the enemy has available at that period of interest.
  • How the enemy would employ chemicals.
  • Areas of likely employment based on threat employment doctrine.
  • Detailed analysis of terrain and weather in the unit's AO during each period of interest.
  • MOPP guidance for each period of interest.
  • Templates of predicted fallout data that are updated as conditions change.
  • Alternative actions the commander can initiate prior to the time period in question to minimize degradation of affected units.
  • Continuous monitoring of S2 message and radio traffic for any NBC-related information that could be important to the unit's mission.

MOPP System Flexibility

Flexibility is the key to providing maximum protection with the lowest risk possible while still allowing mission accomplishment. Commanders may place all or part of their units in different MOPP levels or authorize variations within a given MOPP level.

Soldiers may leave the overgarment jacket open at MOPP1, MOPP2, or MOPP3 allowing greater ventilation. Soldiers may leave the hood open or rolled at MOPP3. The various configurations of the last two MOPP levels with the hood rolled or open are referred to as "MOPP open." Commanders decide which of these variations to use based on the threat, temperature, and unit work intensity.

Units may be granted the flexibility to raise or lower their protective posture from that recommended by higher headquarters. This may be done down to platoon level and by an element that finds itself isolated. If higher headquarters specifically denies this flexibility, then protective postures may only be raised, not lowered.


Do not use mask-only when blister or persistent nerve agents are present.

Managing Performance Problems

  • heat stress
  • reduced ability to see and hear
  • hunger
  • increased feelings of isolation end confusion
  • thirst
  • frustration and claustrophobia or panic
  • discomfort
  • degraded alertness and attention
  • performance degradation

Physiological factors during sustained periods of MOPP are:

Table 3-5 provides examples that can be used as a guide in estimating the work

The following tables will provide information necessary to calculate recommended work/rest cycles, water requirements, maximum work times and recovery times.


There are eight bar indicators: one to three bars = low vapor hazard, four to six bars = low vapor hazard, four to six bars = high vapor hazard, and seven to eight bars = very high levels of vapor hazard.

Unmasking Procedures

Without detection equipment

1. In a shady area, have one or two soldiers take a deep breath, hold it, and break their mask seals for 15 seconds with their eyes open.

2. Have them clear and reseal masks. Observe them for 10 minutes for symptoms.

3. If no symptoms appear, have the same soldiers break their mask seals, take two or three breaths, clear and reseal their masks. Observe them for 10 minutes for symptoms.

4. If no symptoms appear have the same soldiers unmask for 5 minutes and then remask. If no symptoms appear in 10 minutes, it is safe to give the all clear signal and unmask.

5. Continue to observe the soldiers in ease delayed symptoms develop.

With M256 or M256A1 Detector Kit

1. Test with the detector kit.

2. If the test is negative, have one or two soldiers move to a shady area if possible, and unmask for 5 minutes. Have the soldiers remask. Observe them for 10 minutes for symptoms.

3. If no symptoms appear, it is safe to give the all clear signal and unmask. The senior leader present may ask higher headquarters for permission.

4. Continue to watch soldiers for possible delayed symptoms.

Using Estimated Wait Times Before Executing Open/Unmasking Time Tables

NOTE: All tables are ICT 5 risk level (Incapacitating dosage of vapor sufficient to disable 5% of exposed soldiers).

Formula Procedure

a. Variables

P = Percent of worst case time remaining

O = Original worst case time from table

N = New worst case time from table

T = Time between original estimate and weather change

U = Updated worst case time

b. Procedure.

Read O directly from table

Weather change:

Decontamination Resources Available at Each Level of Organization

Individual Soldiers

  • One M258Al or M291 skin decon kit.
  • One canteen of water.

Operators and crews

  • One onboard M11 decon apparatus or M13 decon apparatus, portable (DAP), for major pieces of equipment.
  • Soap and water, M258A1 or M291 kits as needed for decon of sensitive or vulnerable surfaces.
  • HTH mixture or bleach.
  • M280 or M295 decon kit.

Company Level

  • One 50-pound drum of STB.
  • Two 5-gallon pails of DS2 or 2 M13 DAPs.
  • Six long-handled brushes.
  • 300 plastic garbage bags.
  • Six 3-gallon buckets.
  • Six large sponges.
  • Two 32-gallon galvanized trash cans (from mess section).
  • Two immersion heaters (from mess section).

Battalion PDDE Crews

  • Power-driven decontaminating equipment (PDDE) or light weight decon system (LDS).
  • Basic load liquid detergent.

Chemical Company Decon Squad

  • Ten 5-gallon pails of DS2, or M13 DAPs, per M12A1 (IAW CTA 50-970).
  • Twenty-six 50-pound drums of STB per M12A1 (IAW CTA 50-970).
  • Power-driven decon equipment.
  • Basic load of liquid detergent.

Chemical Company Decon Platoon

  • 5-gallon pails of DS2 or M13 DAPs, per M12A1 or M17 LDS (IAW CTA 50-970).
  • 50-pound drums of STB per M12A1 (IAW CTA 50-970).
  • Power-driven decon equipment or M17 light decon system (dual purpose platoon only).
  • Basic load of decontaminants.

Levels of Decontamination

There are three levels of decon: immediate, operational, and thorough.

Immediate Decon minimizes casualties, saves lives, and limits the spread of contamination. Immediate decon is carried out by individuals upon becoming contaminated. There are three immediate techniques: skin decon, personnel wipedown, and operator's spray down.

Operational Decon sustains operations, reduces the contact hazard, and limits the spread of contamination to eliminate the necessity or reduce the duration of wearing MOPP gear. Operational decon is carried by individual and/or units. It is restricted to specific parts of operationally essential equipment/material and/or working areas, in order to minimize contact and transfer hazards and to sustain operations. Further decon may be required to reduce contamination to negligible risk levels. There are two operational decon techniques: vehicle washdown and MOPP gear exchange.

Thorough Decon reduces or eliminates the need for individual protective clothing. Thorough decon is carried out by units with assistance from chemical units to reduce contamination on personnel, equipment/material, and/or working areas to the lowest possible level (negligible risk) to permit the reduction or removal of individual protective equipment and maintain operations with minimal degradation. This may include decontamination of terrain as required. There are three thorough decon techniques: detailed troop decon, detailed equipment decon, and detailed aircraft decon.

The three levels of decon--immediate, operational, and thorough-are presented as part of this chapter to explain the seven standard decon techniques used for most decon operations. Your chemical officer or NCO advises on efficient ways to conduct operational or thorough decon operations. For example, conducting decon operations might require the use of one or a combination of the seven decon techniques.

Operational Decontamination

Thorough Decon

Chemical Patient Decontamination Procedures

Step 1. Decontaminate the patient's mask end hood.

Step 2. Remove gross contamination from the patient's overgarment.

Step 3. Remove patient's protective overgarment and personal effects.

Step 4. Remove patient's battledress uniform.

Step 5. Transfer the patient to a decon litter.

Step 6. Decontaminate skin (M291/M258A1 kit or 0.5% chlorine solution).

Step 7. Transfer the patient across the shuffle pit.

Decontamination of Specific Items

The following table lists more than two dozen specific surfaces or materials, and it explains briefly how to best decontaminate each for chemical, biological, and nuclear contamination. The best method for decon of a particular surface or material in a given situation could be any of those listed for that surface or material.

The order in which the methods are listed does not indicate preference of one over another. You should choose the beat method for decon of a particular item. For a more in-depth understanding of the decon methods, refer to FM 3-5.

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