Army Chemical Review

SUMMER 2013

Army Chemical Review presents professional information about Chemical Corps functions related to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, smoke, flame, and civil support operations.

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By Wing Commander Timothy Edward Uren, Royal Air Force A s the frst Royal Air Force (RAF) offcer to serve as the United Kingdom (U.K.) exchange offcer to the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School (USACBRNS), I am regularly asked, "Why did the U.K. transfer its CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] specialists from the Army to the Air Force [following The Strategic Defence and Security Review1]?" The short answer is, "We didn't." This article provides a somewhat longer answer. It describes the background of The Strategic Defence and Security Review decisions regarding CBRN capabilities, which may be of interest to U.S. Army CBRN professionals. More importantly, it outlines the organization and capabilities of U.K. CBRN specialists—a topic that is relevant to U.S. Army Chemical Corps personnel engaged in coalition operations. Background There is no equivalent to the Chemical Corps—or even the CBRN military occupational specialty—in the U.K. Most unit and formation CBRN personnel (including instructors, advisors, and warning and reporting staff) deliver CBRN defense as an additional duty once they have completed a 2- to 3-week course held at the Defence CBRN Centre, Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire. The lead service proponent for specialized, dedicated CBRN defense is the RAF, with the Force Protection (FP) staff, Air Command, RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, specifcally responsible. Following Operation Granby—the U.K. contribution to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm—in the early 1990s, an operational need for more capable CBRN reconnaissance and surveillance was identifed. This led to the formation of the Joint Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (later CBRN) Regiment, RAF Honington, Suffolk. The roughly battalion-size Joint CBRN Regiment, which was manned by personnel from the RAF Regiment and the Royal Tank 18 Regiment, was equipped with Fuchs nuclear, biological, and chemical reconnaissance vehicles, Integrated Biological Detection Systems, and a number of Multipurpose Decontamination Systems for the decontamination of Fuchs vehicles. The RAF Regiment also continued to provide the U.K. sampling and identifcation of biological, chemical, and radiological agents and nuclear emergency response capabilities from a separate unit (the RAF CBRN Operations Squadron), also based at RAF Honington. Joint CBRN Regiment personnel served with distinction—in their primary CBRN defense roles and in their out-of-role capacities as maneuver subunits—in theaters that included Iraq and Afghanistan. Strategic Defence and Security Review The Strategic Defence and Security Review required that the U. K. fnd ways to signifcantly save on defense spending, while maintaining operations in Afghanistan. Many capabilities, including CBRN defense, were hit hard. The CBRN specialist capabilities that remained were so limited that maintaining a joint CBRN unit was no longer considered viable. Following robust debate, the Ministry of Defence decided that the RAF would remain the lead service proponent for CBRN defense— and that it would also become responsible for delivering the remaining CBRN specialist capabilities. Accordingly, Number (No.) 20 Wing RAF Regiment—which amalgamated the remaining Joint CBRN Regiment capabilities with those of the RAF CBRN Operations Squadron under a single command— was formed in 2011. Current Capabilities No. 20 Wing RAF Regiment is comprised of— ● No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment. No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment conducts dismounted CBRN reconnaissance and surveillance. It is roughly equivalent to a number of U.S. Army Chemical Corps dismounted reconnaissance and (continued on page 24) Army Chemical Review

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