Secrecy News

Army Special Operations in a Nuclear Environment

When an Army aircraft is flying in a zone where detonation of a nuclear explosive is anticipated, one of the pilots would be well advised to wear a patch over one eye to protect against flash blindness from the nuclear burst.

“This practice allows vision in this eye in case blindness occurs to the unprotected eye and the other pilot.”

That peculiar bit of practical wisdom was provided in a 2007 U.S. Army manual for special operations forces (pdf) that are operating in nuclear and other WMD environments.

“The United States Special Operations Command combatant commander recognizes the probability of operating in a CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] environment exists; therefore, SOF [special operations forces] must specifically organize, train, and equip to be successful,” the manual explains.

“The term CBRN environment includes the deliberate, accidental employment, or threat of CBRN weapons and attacks with CBRN or toxic industrial materials (TIMs).”

A copy of the Army manual was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Army Special Operations Forces Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Operations,” Field Manual 3-05.132, August 2007.

0 thoughts on “Army Special Operations in a Nuclear Environment

  1. Flying with one eye — either because of a patch or because one eye has been blinded by a nuclear detonation — means you have no depth perception and cannot land your aircraft. That’s what an F-16 pilot told me in Germany in the 1980s. His mission was to fly into East Germany, drop his nuke, fly back, rearm and fly again. Ini fact, he said, his was a one-way mission. It struck me at the time that most U.S. plans for nuclear war in Europe were of similar fairy-tale material.

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