In addition to being outnumbered, there was this overriding concern, overwhelming concern about chemical warfare. This just occupied most of my waking moments.
—General Walt Boomer, USMC, Frontline, 1995
On August 2, 1990, as Iraqi tanks crossed the border into Kuwait, US armed forces were not fully prepared to deploy and fight on a CB-contaminated battlefield in the Middle East. Over the last few decades, the Army had focused upon designing equipment for European conflicts. All the latest CB defense equipment had been meant for fighting the Soviets on a European battlefield, and military units in Europe had priority in receiving it. Realistic CB defensive training was the rule (within bounds). 1 Soldiers used chemical protective overgarments (CPOGs) during field exercises. All the tanks had the latest agent filtration systems, and airfields and command posts had collective protection systems ready. The Army and Air Force stockpiled chemical and tactical nuclear weapons in Europe as a theater retaliatory capability (at least until the summer of 1990, when US Army Europe [USAREUR] implemented plans to remove these systems).
Back in the United States, combat divisions training to deploy and fight outside of Europe ignored these preparations, because they did not expect to encounter CB warfare in their theaters of conflict. Because of production delays, many divisions lacked CB defense equipment issued to their higher-priority European counterparts. Unit commanders chose not to purchase chemical protective clothing that probably would not be used, but spent the funds on other training and maintenance priorities. Reserve and Guard units had even less time for training on topics outside of immediate mission areas. This situation made for an unequal level of individual training, unit training and logistics preparations throughout the Army (and other services). Most important, it meant that CENTCOM's forces were not initially prepared for an adversary who used CB agent munitions.