America's Struggle with Chemical-Biological Warfare

By Albert J. Mauroni | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 15
Smoke, Radiacs, and
Medical CB Defense

In addition to CB defense, the Chemical Corps also has responsibilities for smoke and obscurants programs and radiacs. The Chemical School was also to coordinate with the Medical Corps for medical chemical defense material requirements: treatments, antidotes, and vaccines for CB agents and their effects. The Air Force and Navy had never considered radiation detection programs, smoke and obscurants programs, or medical CB defense programs as part of their CB defense programs, as did the Army, prior to 1990. Radiacs in particular remain a distinct research area due to the larger and more diverse requirements that arise in operating nuclear reactors and storing nuclear weapons. Likewise, smoke and obscurants were seen as a general survivability problem, not a specific CB defense concern; therefore, any interservice coordination was done on a case-by-case basis and not as a rule. The Marine Corps, in part due to their traditional ground force missions, took advantage of the Army's efforts in smoke and radiacs but remained subordinate to the Navy's primary service role in medical CB defense. This chapter reviews the evolution of these cousins of the Army NBC defense/smoke program. If nothing else, the reader should understand that these programs had to compete with the better-established CB defense programs. While they were overshadowed by CB defense, there were important advances in the 1980s smoke, radiac, and CB medical programs that would play significant roles in the Gulf War.


RADIAC PROGRAMS

Development of radiacs began immediately after the rumbles of Nagasaki settled. Prior to 1945, the military had access to civilian laboratory instruments; these had been used to detect alpha, beta, gamma, and X-ray emissions but were obviously not rugged enough to withstand field conditions. In 1945 the military saw the dawn of the atomic battlefield and recognized the need for simple and rugged instruments that would give the soldier information about the presence of radioactive fallout. Military leaders were not concerned about alpha particles that

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