Politics of Chemical Arms
and Chemical Defense
The latter half of the 1980s saw an increased emphasis on developing binary weapons, now that it appeared more feasible to resurrect the idea of retaliatory measures as a part of the military's counterproliferation program. Training at the School would include live agent training, for the first time in decades. This brought valuable lessons home in a realistic training environment. Developing chemical defense equipment continued as a well-planned modernization effort. The bywords became defense, deterrence, and retaliate! All three capabilities became vital interconnected legs of the military's ability to survive and sustain combat operations in a military environment. Without one leg, military vulnerabilities begin to show. Without two legs, the military force becomes too busy performing a balancing act to consider performing its mission. While the Army maintained a three-legged chair in the 1980s, it was clear to many that not all the legs were equally strong or of equal length.
While the Chemical Corp's defensive capabilities were improving, there was a chorus of calls from both the chemical and combat arms branches (as well as theater commanders) to restart the binary program. Many felt the existing chemical weapons stockpile was obsolete, and without a serious retaliatory capability, the European forces would have to endure a one-sided battle against the Soviets. Congressional funds had permitted the development of the Integrated Binary Munitions Production Facility from 1980 through its finished construction in April 1985. Before the binary program could be reinitiated, Congress would have to approve the production phase of the program. Although the Reagan administration had advocated a binary program since 1982 with the Senate's approval, the heavily Democratic House kept rejecting its return, the only major weapon system denied