U.S. Army Training in the Tactical Employment of Chemical Weapons: A Flaw in Our Chemical Deterrence?   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Chemical weapons were introduced in World War I by the Germans in 1916, during the battle of Ypres. The military's appreciation for the effectiveness of this weapon of mass destruction has continually conflicted with society's horror of its cruel effects. As a compromise, many nations agreed not to employ them in future wars, with the reservation that they would retain a retaliatory capability that would deter an adversary's impulse to introduce chemicals into the battle. While those measures served to prevent chemical use in World War II, events since then force us to reevaluate our retaliatory capability and its deterrence value. Increased use of chemical agents by the Soviet Union and it client states, and the development of chemical weapon programs in other third world nations, points to an ever increasing future risk that the US's 'retaliation in kind' policy will be challenged. Meanwhile the US Army has neglected the training of its officers and units in the tactical employment of chemical weapons to the point that it seriously undermines the credibility of the deterrence value of our chemical weapons policy. This paper concludes that the lack of training prevents the US Army from realizing that it is prepared to fight with an obsolete chemical doctrine, and recommends actions that will update its chemical warfighting capability and thereby enhance the deterrence effect of our chemical weapons policy. Keywords: Chemical training; Soviet chemical training; Tactical chemical employment; Historical chemical use."

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