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.

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Page 33 of 47

Army Chemical Review 32 However, the future of the CWS had not been secured. Older military leaders who had received their military edu- cation before the development of the chemical industry in the late 1800s viewed chemical warfare as undignifed. They preferred to ignore the possibility that chemicals would re- main a weapon of civilized warfare. And many believed that the proposed peacetime activities of the CWS could well be handled by the Corps of Engineers. However, the strongest proponents of the CWS insisted that chemical warfare was an emerging and expanding threat and that it was here to stay. They declared that Pandora's box had been opened and that there was no going back. They argued that our Nation could prepare for another chemical battle or suffer the conse- quences. If transferred to another branch, they claimed that chemical warfare would be relegated to secondary impor- tance behind the primary mission of that branch. Congress agreed with the proponents and, with the National Defense Act of 1920, established the CWS as a permanent branch of the Army. Due to the research and development advances that CWS made during the war, the additional missions of developing and producing all smoke and incendiary materi- als were added to the chemical missions. There were no further CWS name changes during the next 2 decades, although an effort was made in 1937 to re- designate the CWS as the Chemical Corps to conform to the naming convention that was already in use for other Service branches. The proposed measure was passed by Congress, but did not meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ap- proval. With the Nation in the grip of the Great Depression and with war clouds again gathering over Europe and Asia, the President believed that the name change was contrary to sound public policy, preferring instead to hope that civilized nations would one day outlaw the use of chemicals in war- fare. While he acknowledged the need for the CWS to study war gases for defensive purposes in the event they were used against the United States, President Roosevelt was, after all, a politician who did not wish to endure public ill will by authorizing what might be viewed as one more federal boon- doggle in preparation for another world war. He believed that the name change could be politically costly; therefore, the proposal was dropped. Despite the President's public declaration of his sincere hope that international peace conventions would make the abolishment of the CWS possible, CWS missions were fur- ther expanded. The development of aircraft that could farther and faster elevated the role of chemicals as military weapons. The development of aerial chemical weapons—and the development of defenses against them—became increas- ingly important. In addition, the CWS also provided useful services to the American people through public health and law enforcement research and projects. It was widely be - lieved that the chief value of the CWS was in its message of deterrence to potential enemies—the message that a chemi- cal weapons attack on the United States would be met, de- feated, and countered by our own chemical weapons. The CWS was essentially our national insurance policy, whose premiums were reluctantly paid as a hedge against the unthinkable. However, at no point was the CWS safe from the threat of future disestablishment. The size and missions of the CWS expanded greatly upon U.S. entry into World War II. From 1942 to 1945, the CWS increased in size from 7,500 to 65,000 Soldiers. For the CWS to play a greater role in combat operations, high-explosive rounds were developed for the 4.2-inch chemical mortar; incendiary bombs provided the U.S. Army Air Force with an ideal weapon for the strategic bombing of enemy indus- tries. The CWS was also offcially tasked to act as an advi- sor on the chemistry of explosives and to develop training programs and contingency plans to counter chemical attacks on the continental United States. Furthermore, the weap- onization and use of biological agents by the Japanese in China and the development of similar weapons in Germany prompted the War Department to initiate the development of America's biological research program under the CWS. With the close of World War II came revelations concern- ing the Nazi discovery, production, and stockpile of nerve agents; the development of the atomic bomb; and the begin- ning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and its commu- nist satellite countries. But unlike the period following World War I, there was no organized movement to dissolve the CWS after World War II. The proliferation of chemical weapons, the develop- ment of nerve agents, the destructive force of strategic bomb- ing with incendiary and nuclear weapons, and the spread of communism combined to render that notion impractical. Instead, on 20 August 1946, Public Law 607 was signed and the name of the CWS was offcially changed to the Chemi- cal Corps. The name of the branch school was also changed from the Chemical Warfare School to the Chemical Corps School at that time. In 1949, the Soviet Union's successful production and detonation of an atomic device posed another threat to the United States and created another mission for the Chemical Corps—that of radiological detection, protec- tion, and decontamination. Throughout the decades of the Cold War, the Chemical Corps struggled to balance the need to prepare for involve - ment in a chemical, biological, or atomic with the American public perception regarding what was safe and philosophically acceptable. Did the threat of the foreign use of these agents justify the risks associated with producing, testing, and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons? Operating under the belief that international conventions could now legislate and enforce a prohibition of chemical and biological weapons, the United States eventually agreed to cease production and institute a stockpile destruction pro - gram. With this decision, the Chemical Corps relinquished the offensive preparation mission that had been a pillar of its existence since 1918; however, the decision allowed the Chemical Corps to focus its efforts purely on defense. The Chemical Corps School also underwent changes during the Cold War. The location of the school changed from Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, to Fort McClel- lan, Alabama; and the name of the school changed to the

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