NBC Defense Operations Fundamentals

1. Purpose. This chapter provides a discussion of NBC defense fundamentals applicable to the theater of operations.

2. Overview. NBC defense operations present many unique challenges to commanders. A clear understanding of the effects of WMD, coupled with the implementation of the principles of NBC defense, can significantly reduce these challenges.

3. Weapons of Mass Destruction and Agents Effects. This section describes the lethality and range of effects of weapons and agents in an NBC environment.

a. Nuclear. Effects of a nuclear detonation are primarily in three areas: thermal radiation, blast, and nuclear radiation. Corollary effects, such as electromagnetic pulse (EMP), can break down electronics system protection, disrupt communications, and have significant psychological impacts on friendly forces.

b. Biological. A biological threat is the capability of an enemy to plan and deploy a biological material to produce casualties in humans or animals or damage plants or other material. A biological agent is a microorganism or biological toxin intended to cause disease, injury, or death in people, plants, or animals or deterioration of material. A biological threat is the capability of an enemy to deploy these types of agents.

c. Chemical. Chemical agents and compounds are classified according to physical state, physiological action, and use. The terms persistent and nonpersistent describe the time an agent stays in an area. Threat forces classify chemical agents according to their physiological effect on the body. They identify six major types: nerve, blood, blister, choking, psychochemical, and irritants.

4. Operations in an NBC Environment. A capability to defend against NBC attack and to survive and sustain combat operations in an NBC environment requires intelligence forewarning and highly trained, properly equipped forces throughout the theater of operations. US forces must be prepared to conduct operations in an NBC environment with minimal degradation. At the theater operational level, NBC defense involves protection for forces and the means to remove or cope with operationally significant hazards, conceal intentions in the area of responsibility (AOR), and provide adequate health service support to preserve the fighting capability of the forces. Health service support will be addressed in Chapter V, Medical Support.

a. Operational Stress. Physical and mental demands of military operations can have profound effects on the performance of individual Service members and units. This is particularly true when the stress of combat is intensified by heat, continuous operations, and NBC protective clothing worn as part of a unit's MOPP.

b. Principles of NBC Defense. NBC defense for the theater requires cognizance of the principles of NBC defense--avoidance, protection, and decontamination--coupled with a proactive theater- level program of intelligence, psychological operations, deception, and obscuration. Theater-level intelligence assets gather information on the state of the AOR and enemy capabilities and intentions. Psychological operations support deterrent measures and, in the event of the failure of deterrence, enhance reactive measures as a force multiplier. Deception at the theater level supports large-scale maneuvers. Obscuration increases survivability of large-scale operations and port and airfield operations. If the enemy uses NBC weapons, an effective NBC defense program gives our forces an advantage in operational tempo. This advantage causes the enemy to cease NBC warfare or continue the conflict on less favorable terms. Nuclear weapons cause casualties through blast, heat, and radiation effects. Biological and chemical weapons cause serious injury or death and restrict the use of terrain or equipment. NBC weapons also degrade force effectiveness by causing military personnel to don cumbersome protective clothing and equipment. To counter these effects, NBC defense adheres to the three principles: avoidance, protection, and decontamination.

5. Operations and Sustainment Assessment

a. Operations Tempo. The operations tempo may be profoundly affected by the introduction of NBC weapons. Some of the sustainment considerations that should be reviewed by the combatant commander are outlined in Chapter IV.

b. Reconstitution. The component commanders' capabilities for force generation may be severely hampered with introduction of NBC weapons because of the disruption of normal personnel and materiel replacement processes in theater. In addition, the scale of the requirement for reconstitution may be dramatically increased, especially in a biological or nuclear environment. The number of anticipated casualties, even if afforded some protection, would severely tax reorganization and reconstitution systems.

c. Military Performance in Chemical Protective Clothing and Equipment. The use of protective equipment will cause serious degradation of friendly forces' capabilities to perform their mission. The wearing of chemical protective clothing and equipment will increase the risk of heat stress. Commanders must consider adequate water intake, fatigue, and heat acclimatization.

07-09-1996; 16:39:10