America's Struggle with Chemical-Biological Warfare

By Albert J. Mauroni | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
Collective Protection and
Decontamination--Part 2

These two program areas are grouped in this chapter not based on their functions, but rather because they share the same shadow cast by detection and individual protection programs. The basic research and development program for both areas did not accomplish much in the late 1980s, in part due to lowered funding and interest and in part due to a lack of breakthrough technologies. As mentioned earlier, collective protection systems (CPS) amount to air-conditioning for vehicles, vans, and shelters; decontamination can be seen as just plumbing and brushes. Without capable replacements for activated carbon (in the case of large CPS filters) and DS-2 (in the case of decontamination in general), there was not much new going on in the late 1980s other than basic research looking for new approaches and fielding new equipment designed in the early 1980s.


COLLECTIVE PROTECTION, 1985-90

In July 1985 the Army type-classified the M20 Simplified Collective Protection Equipment (SCPE), with production scheduled in 1988. Initial test and evaluation issues related to the contractor delaying the immediate production. The M20 SCPE had initially been issued for command posts and forward medical units, but only in small numbers before the contract was canceled for technical problems related to the rubber fabric's chemical agent resistance (an important factor). Army units finally began receiving new M20 SCPEs in May 1990 (two years behind schedule). The system was well received; it did inflate and protect interiors of buildings very well, but it was next to useless in the field. It was not compatible with GP tents and their sharp poles, but then again, it was not designed to be used outside hard-walled buildings. This was an ideal system for Europe, but not for the Middle East.

In September 1985 a medical board decided that they did need a system to treat casualties in a contaminated environment, and the M51 shelter was as good as they were going to get during this decade. The M51 was recognized as an

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