Army Chemical Review


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 67

By Captain Seth P. Model U.S. armed forces have been engaged in war for nearly a decade, producing a generation of Soldiers who have extensive combat experience. With downsizing on the horizon, the Army, in general—and individual branches, in particular— will certainly shrink. A smaller force must be more effcient; therefore, we must closely examine our tactics, techniques, and procedures, revamping them when necessary. Revolutionary ideas should be shared and developed. This article serves as a forum for the sharing and development of one such idea regarding the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. Cold War Era Training During my Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Basic Offcer Leader's Course, it occurred to me that the information being presented was from the Cold War era. The feld manuals (FMs) and training videos were from "the Army of the 80s." Many of the topics were irrelevant for a combat environment. However, the hazmat courses were valuable due to their relation to current events and the possibility that the information could actually be used. For example, technical escort units deal with hazmat and are highly regarded as the "ultimate" CBRN units. Furthermore, weapons of mass destruction (WMD)–civil support teams serve as valuable homeland security resources. And the topic of decontamination is relevant to CBRN training. CBRN reconnaissance units offer the most diverse capabilities; however, there are no rules of engagement. Following major conficts, consideration has been given to disbanding the Chemical Corps—in spite of the fact that CBRN Soldiers made signifcant contributions during those conficts. Consequently, FM 3-11, Multi-Service Doctrine for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations (the FM that directs the deployment of CBRN assets in combat) remained unchanged for more than 20 years. According to that FM, CBRN units were limited to support roles, forward units were expected to generate smoke to cover advancing engagements, Summer 2013 and reconnaissance and decontamination operations were the only other contributions. Even in publications released after Operation Desert Storm, there were no signifcant doctrinal changes to the role of CBRN units in combat. Young CBRN lieutenants aspire to be CBRN reconnaissance platoon leaders; however, opportunities are limited—especially in combat. Neither tactical nor offensive capabilities are considered in doctrine or in practice. For those units that have a modern mission, an updated curriculum is needed. History in the Making The 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, became an accidental pioneer. Although the exact date was not recorded, the CBRN Reconnaissance Platoon was reformulated into something novel sometime from 2008 to 2009. According to the modifed table of organization and equipment, the battalion was authorized a small security section—comprised of infantry Soldiers and a portion of the headquarters and headquarters company—and M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems. The small security section lacked discrete leadership; and because the CBRN Reconnaissance (or Fox) Platoon was also small, the two units were combined. The augmented platoon could then conduct reconnaissance missions with its own internal security. Although not recognized at the time, this allowed for the diversifcation of capabilities and missions. The Iraq Shutdown In 2010, the CBRN Reconnaissance Platoon felded M1135 Stryker Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles (NBCRVs), thereby becoming more tactically advanced and mobile. Unit training in preparation for the National Training Center (Fort Irwin, California) and Iraq involved conventional gunnery and a tasking for the role of personal security detail. The absence of the word chemical in the description of duties is noteworthy. As Operation New 25

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Army Chemical Review - SUMMER 2013