Nuclear, Biological, Chemical,
and Smoke Operations

Because many potential adversaries have the capability to employ nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, the company team must prepare to fight in an NBC environment, as well as to collect, process, and disseminate NBC hazard information. To survive and remain effective on the battlefield, the team must be proficient in the three fundamentals of NBC defense: contamination avoidance, NBC protection, and decontamination. The company team NBC NCO conducts NBC training and assists and advises the commander in planning NBC operations. Additional-duty NBC personnel, designated in the team SOP, serve as crewmen for platoon NBC vehicles, as the decontamination team, and as chemical agent detection and radiological survey/monitoring teams. Refer to FM 3-3, FM 3-3-1, FM 3-4, and FM 3-5 for additional information on NBC operations.

Smoke is used extensively by enemy and friendly elements in both offensive and defensive operations. The company teamís success on the battlefield may depend on how well the commander understand the effects of smoke on enemy and friendly acquisition systems in various weather conditions.


Section 1 Contamination Avoidance
General Avoidance Measures
Biological Defense
Defense Before a Nuclear Attack
Defense Before a Chemical Attack
Section 2 NBC Protection
MOPP Levels and SOP Requirements
Alarms and Signals
Defense During a Nuclear Attack
Defense After a Nuclear Attack
Defense During a Chemical Attack
Defense After a Chemical Attack
Biological and Chemical Casualties
Marking Contamination
Unmasking Procedures
All-Clear Signal
Warning and Reporting Systems
Section 3 Movement in an NBC Environment
Crossing a Chemically/Biologically Contaminated Area
Crossing a Radiologically Contaminated Area
Section 4 Decontamination
Types of Contamination
Levels of Decontamination Operations
Section 5 Smoke Operations
Planning Considerations for Smoke Employment
Uses of Smoke
Sources of Smoke
Tactical Considerations in Smoke Operations
Countermeasures Against Enemy Smoke


Avoidance is the most important fundamental of NBC defense because the best way to survive is to avoid being the object of a chemical or nuclear attack. Avoiding contaminated areas minimizes the risk of additional casualties; it also prevents the degradation of combat power that results when a unit must operate in MOPP level 3 or 4 for extended periods of time. In addition, the unit is not required to spend the time and resources needed for decontamination. Contamination avoidance measures include using passive avoidance techniques, locating contaminated areas, identifying NBC agents, warning other members of the company team as well as other units, and reporting NBC threats to higher headquarters.


Passive avoidance

Passive avoidance measures can decrease the possibility of NBC attack or reduce the effects of an attack already under way. Effective use of concealment, dispersion, prepared positions, OPSEC, and signal security reduces the company teamís chances of being acquired as a target. The team should continually analyze its vulnerability to NBC attack and take appropriate protective measures.

Detection, alarms,
and reporting

Attacks and contamination must be detected quickly and reported to adjacent units and higher headquarters. The company team must have an effective method of quickly giving the alarm in the event of an NBC attack. Alarms can be passed by radio, audible signals, or hand-and-arm signals. Company team SOPs should specify criteria for increasing or reducing the MOPP level; they should also cover procedures for the marking of vehicles and MOPP suits with detection paper, for employing detection teams, and for submitting the required NBC reports following an NBC attack or when contamination is encountered.

and evaluation

Whenever possible, all movement routes and future positions should be reconnoitered for nuclear and chemical contamination. Quartering party personnel should be prepared to conduct monitoring operations; if they detect contaminated areas, they identify, report, and mark them. The quartering party can then evaluate the location and type of hazard (nuclear radiation or chemical agent) to determine the best plan for bypassing, crossing, or operating in the contaminated area. Based on the situation, the company team commander must be able to implement protective measures specified in the SOP to minimize personnel losses and limit the spread of contamination.


The key protective measure against a biological attack is maintaining a high order of health, personal hygiene, and sanitation discipline. Biological attacks are difficult to detect. If an attack occurs, the chances of survival are better if personnel are healthy and physically fit and maintain good personal hygiene. Keeping the body clean helps to prevent ingestion of biological agents. Small cuts or scratches should be covered and kept germ-free by means of soap, water, and first-aid measures. Since insects may carry biological agents, soldiers should prevent insect bites by keeping clothes buttoned and skin covered and by using approved insect repellents. The biological integrated detection system (BIDS) is a corps- or division-level asset that can detect and identify biological agents.

After an attack, the company team must assume that all surfaces have been exposed to germs. Do not eat food or drink water that may be contaminated. Eat or drink only food or water that has been stored in sealed containers; consume it only after washing and cleaning the outside of the container. All water must be boiled for at least 15 minutes.


The best defense against a nuclear attack is to dig in. Unit defensive positions, which range from individual foxholes to full-scale improved fighting positions, should be prepared whenever the tactical situation permits. Personnel should keep their individual weapons, equipment, clothing, and other issue items in their vehicles. Inside the vehicle, equipment and any loose items must be secured because the blast wave can turn unsecured objects into lethal missiles. Supplies, explosives, and flammable materials should be dispersed and protected.

Reverse slopes of hills and mountains give some nuclear protection. The initial radiation and the heat and light from the fireball of a nuclear blast tend to be absorbed by hills and mountains. The use of gullies, ravines, ditches, natural depressions, fallen trees, and caves can also reduce nuclear casualties.


Attack preparations

The company team commander and subordinate leaders must ensure that all personnel have their protective masks available and must make sure each mask fits and functions properly. The team commander will determine the appropriate MOPP level based on the higher headquartersí designated MOPP level and IPB information; he cannot reduce the MOPP level below that directed by higher headquarters. All personnel should wear the proper protective clothing in accordance with the MOPP level designated by the commander. The commander may consider having vehicle drivers begin offensive operations in MOPP 4 when it is likely that the enemy will use chemical or biological weapons; this will allow the unit to continue to move while the rest of the crew goes to MOPP 4. All equipment and supplies should be protected from liquid chemical contamination by keeping them organized and covered.

Chemical alarms

The M8A1 automatic chemical agent alarm system is the primary means of detecting an upwind chemical attack. The system provides two essential elements of survival: detection of a toxic agent cloud and early warning to troops in the monitored position.

The company team commander, in coordination with the NBC NCO and subordinate leaders, decides where to place the chemical alarms. In stationary operations, first determine the wind direction. Then place available detector units upwind of the nearest unit position to be protected; detector units should be no more than 150 meters upwind of that unit position. Space available detector units approximately 300 meters apart, and make sure each detector unit is connected to an alarm unit by telephone cable (NB-1). Position the alarm units near radiotelephone assets; this makes it easy to alert the unit to an attack. Operation of the alarm can be affected by blowing sand or dust, rain, sleet, snow, tropical conditions, and temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius).


Soldiers on the integrated battlefield face a combination of nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional attacks. If the company team cannot avoid an NBC hazard, it must be prepared to protect personnel and equipment from the effects of exposure. The type and degree of protection required is based on the unitís mission and the hazard. Note that the line between contamination avoidance and protection is not distinct. Many actions contribute to both areas of NBC defense.


The key to effective protection in an NBC environment is the company teamís proficiency in automatically and correctly implementing NBC defense SOPs. Individual and unit protection against chemical attack or contamination hinges on effective use of the MOPP and on individual proficiency in basic NBC skills. The five levels of MOPP, shown with corresponding equipment requirements in Table G-1, should also be outlined in the SOP.

Table G-1. MOPP levels and equipment requirements.

MOPP level








Command (mask only)






Worn 1




Ready 3

Available 4

Worn 1

Worn 1

Worn 1



Vinyl overboots

Ready 3

Available 4

Available 4






Ready 3

Available 4

Available 4

Available 4

Available 4



protective cover

Ready 3

Available 4

Available 4





Chemical protective undergarment 2

Ready 3

Available 4

Worn 2

Worn 2

Worn 2

Worn 2

  1. In hot weather, coat or hood can be left open for ventilation.

  2. The chemical protective undergarment is worn under the BDU (this primarily applies to armor vehicle crewmen
    and special operations forces).

  3. These items must be available to the soldier within two hours, with a second set available within six hours.

  4. These items must be positioned within armís reach of the soldier.


When an NBC attack is recognized, everyone in the company team must receive the warning and assume the appropriate MOPP level (see Table G-1). Soldiers in immediate danger need warnings they can see or hear. The alarm or signal must be simple and unmistakable if it is to produce a quick and correct reaction. Units that are not immediately affected need the information as well, either to prepare for the hazard or to change plans.

If an NBC hazard is located, the contaminated area should be marked. The NBC warning and reporting system (NBCWRS) and standardized contamination markers contribute to orderly warning procedures. Warning methods include automatic alarms (M8 series), vocal alarms (a shout of "GAS" is the most frequently used alarm), nonvocal alarms (horn blasts or banging of metal-to-metal objects), and visual alarms, most commonly the appropriate hand-and-arm signals.


Dismounted defense

Immediately drop flat on the ground (face down) or to the bottom of a foxhole or other low area, with head toward the blast. Cover as much exposed skin as possible. Close your eyes. Remain down until the blast wave has passed and debris has stopped falling. Stay calm, check for injury, check weapons and equipment for damage, and prepare to continue the mission.

Mounted defense

As time permits, take the following actions:

  • Position the vehicle with the rear facing the blast and the gun pointed away from the blast.
  • Lock the brakes.
  • Secure loose equipment inside the vehicle to prevent injuries and equipment damage.
  • Secure all exterior components that could be damaged by the blast (such as water cans, duffel bags, and antennas) inside the vehicle.
  • Turn off all radios as well as turret and master power.
  • Close and lock all hatches, including ballistic shields.
  • Wear your helmet and protect your eyes.
  • Stow the CITV (M1A2) or TOW (BFV).


General actions

Once the attack has ended, the company team and subordinate elements should be prepared to take these actions:

  • Prepare and submit NBC-1 nuclear reports.
  • Organize survivors; assist and treat casualties.
  • Secure and organize equipment.
  • Repair and reinforce the BP.
  • Improve protection against possible fallout.
  • Begin continuous monitoring.
  • Prepare to move, on order, to a less hazardous area if the radiation dose rate reaches a hazardous level after fallout has ended.

Operating in the
contaminated area

When operating in or crossing radiologically contaminated areas, vehicles should be closed tightly. Crewmen should wear their protective masks; cargoes should be covered by tarps or tenting. Mission permitting, vehicles should keep their speed down to prevent dust and should maintain adequate following distance to stay out of the dust raised by preceding vehicles.

After the unit exits a contaminated area, personnel, equipment, and cargo should be checked for contamination and, if necessary, decontaminated. Dose rates should be monitored closely to ensure compliance with the OEG. The RES should be updated daily.

Fallout warning

The first person to detect the arrival of fallout is usually a member of the radiological survey and monitoring team. As soon as the recorded dose rate reaches 1 cGy/hr (or rad per hour) or higher, he issues a fallout warning. All personnel hearing the warning relay it to others. If the mission allows, soldiers should get into a shelter with overhead cover and stay there until given an "ALL CLEAR" signal or until otherwise directed to move. If the unit cannot take cover, decontamination becomes more important and, in many cases, more difficult.


The company team commander designates a point in the team area where readings will be taken and notes the grid coordinates of the point. He directs the monitor operator to take readings at least once each hour from this point; he makes sure the operator zeroes or resets the radiacmeter before taking each reading and uses the device properly. The operator must immediately report all readings showing the presence of radiation, as well as the time of these readings. The NBC NCO, in coordination with the commander, uses this information and the location of the readings to prepare an NBC-4 report. The operator monitors continuously if any of the following conditions occur:

  • A reading of 1 cGy/hr or more is obtained.
  • A fallout warning is received.
  • A nuclear burst is seen, heard, or reported.
  • An order to monitor is received.
  • The unit begins to move.

Continuous monitoring continues until readings show a dose rate of less than 1 cGy/hr or until operators are directed to stop.

Tactical dosimetry

The company team will normally be issued eight dosimeters (either IM-93 or DT-236 radiacmeters). Before the operation begins, the commander ensures that all dosimeters are zeroed (this applies to the IM-93 only). The AN/VDR-75 reads the DT-236; the PP-1578 zeroes the IM-93. The following considerations and procedures apply in conducting dosimetry:

  • If a charger for the IM-93 is not available, note the original reading on the dosimeter and adjust subsequent readings accordingly.
  • Make sure survey readings are reported accurately.
  • Collect readings at least once daily.
  • Average the readings, round to the nearest 10, and report this average to higher headquarters.


The first soldier or element to detect a chemical attack or hazard gives the appropriate alarm. All unmasked soldiers put on their protective masks and other MOPP gear. All personnel should move inside their vehicles; in most cases, they should place their hatches in the closed position to protect against gross contamination. Crews of vehicles that are equipped with NBC overpressurization turn the system on. The commander directs use of the M256 chemical agent detector kits to determine the type of agent and forwards an NBC-1 chemical report. The company team continues the mission when the appropriate defensive measures are completed.

NOTE: Tactical and safety factors (such as observation of the terrain, enemy disposition, and the amount of gross contamination that may be spread inside the vehicle) may outweigh the need to keep the vehicleís hatches closed. In addition, unit SOP may require vehicle commanders to keep hatches in the open or open-protected position.


As specified by unit SOPs, the commander forwards follow-up NBC-1 chemical reports and directs these actions:

  • Treat casualties.
  • Perform immediate decontamination as required.
  • Mark the contaminated area.


Potential adversaries may have access to a wide variety of biological and chemical toxins on the modern battlefield. These agents can be dispensed alone or with other carriers or agents. Casualties resulting from live biological agents or chemical toxins require medical treatment as quickly as possible.

The first step in the treatment process is usually appropriate self-aid and buddy-aid measures. These vary depending on the agent. Soldiers should first mask to prevent inhaling or ingesting additional agents; then they should remove agents from exposed skin, either by washing with soap and water or by using the M291 kit. Soldiers use buddy-aid procedures to observe each other for early symptoms of toxic exposure and to request medical assistance.

The company team commander should select separate casualty collection points for contaminated and noncontaminated casualties to prevent cross-contamination. All contaminated casualties should be decontaminated as thoroughly as the situation allows before being evacuated. The company team will include in its casualty evacuation request the number of contaminated patients; this will allow the evacuation team to send the proper number of vehicles for pickup.

Chemical agents fall into four major categories: nerve, blister, blood, and choking. Their primary routes of attack on the body are through the respiratory system and the skin. These agents are especially dangerous because they can kill or incapacitate quickly. The first, and most important, step in dealing with them effectively is to recognize symptoms so proper treatment can be administered. Table G-2 lists protection and detection measures, symptoms, and treatment and decontamination procedures for chemical agents.

Table G-2. Chemical agents.







Protective mask and suit

Protective mask and suit

Protective mask

Protective mask


M8A1, M256A1, CAM, M8/M9 paper

M256A1, M8/M9 paper, CAM


Odor only (resembles new-mown hay or green corn)


Difficult breathing, drooling, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, blurred vision

Burning eyes, stinging skin, irritated nose (no symptoms with mustard or nitrogen mustard)

Convulsions and coma

Coughing, choking, nausea, headache, tightness in chest



Blisters skin and damages respiratory tract


Floods and
damages lungs

First aid

Mark 1 NAAK

Same as for second- and third-degree burns


Avoid movement
and keep warm


Use M291 kit and flush eyes with water

Use M291 kit and flush eyes with water





Contamination must be marked so unsuspecting personnel will not be exposed to it. When company team monitoring assets detect or suspect an NBC hazard, they mark all likely entry points into the area and report contamination to higher headquarters and to adjacent and/or affected units. The only exception to this policy is if marking the area would help the enemy. If this exception is made by the commander, the hazard must still be reported to protect friendly units. Refer to FM 3-3 for information on marking of contaminated areas.

Units discovering a marked contaminated area do not have to conduct elaborate, time-consuming surveys. They simply check the extent of contamination and use the information to adjust their plans, if necessary. If the size of the hazard has changed, they relocate the signs. If the hazard is gone, they remove the signs. Changes are reported to higher headquarters.


Soldiers should unmask as soon as possible except when a live biological or toxin attack is expected. Use the procedures outlined in the following paragraphs to determine if unmasking is safe.

Unmasking with
detector kit

If an M256/M256A1 detector kit is available, use it to supplement unmasking procedures. The kit does not detect all agents; therefore, proper unmasking procedures, which take approximately 15 minutes, must still be used. If all tests with the kit (including a check for liquid contamination using M8 detector paper) have been performed and the results are negative, use the following procedures:

  • The senior person should select one or two soldiers to start the unmasking procedures. If possible, they move to a shady place; bright, direct sunlight can cause pupils in the eyes to constrict, giving a false symptom.
  • Selected soldiers unmask for 5 minutes, then clear and reseal masks.
  • Observe the soldiers for 10 minutes. If no symptoms appear, request permission from higher headquarters to signal "ALL CLEAR."
  • Watch all soldiers for possible delayed symptoms. Always have first-aid treatment immediately available in case it is needed.

Unmasking without
detector kit

If an M256/M256A1 kit is not available, the unmasking procedures take approximately 35 minutes. When a reasonable amount of time has passed after the attack, find a shady area; use M8 paper to check the area for possible liquid contamination. Conduct unmasking using these procedures:

  • The senior person selects one or two soldiers. They take a deep breath and break their mask seals, keeping their eyes wide open.
  • After 15 seconds, the soldiers clear and reseal their masks. Observe them for 10 minutes.
  • If no symptoms appear, the same soldiers break seals, take two or three breaths, and clear and reseal masks. Observe them for 10 minutes.
  • If no symptoms appear, the same soldiers unmask for 5 minutes, then remask.
  • If no symptoms appear in 10 minutes, request permission from higher headquarters to signal "ALL CLEAR." Continue to observe all soldiers in case delayed symptoms develop.


The all-clear signal is passed by word of mouth through the chain of command. It is initiated by higher headquarters after testing for contamination proves negative. The commander designates the specific all-clear signal and includes it in the unit SOP or the OPORD. If required, standard sound signals may be used, such as a continuous, sustained blast on a siren, vehicle horn, or similar device. When "ALL CLEAR" is announced on the radio, the receiving unit must authenticate the transmission before complying.


The NBCWRS is a rapid means of sending reports of an NBC attack. These reports inform other affected units of clean areas and possible contamination. They are also used to provide this information up and down the chain of command and to adjacent units. Each report has a specific purpose and uses standard codes to shorten and simplify the reporting process.


As with other combat elements, one of the basic tactical requirements for the company team is to be able to move through and operate in a contaminated area. To do so safely, the team should follow the procedures outlined in this section.


Once a contaminated area has been identified, all company team elements must make preparations for crossing. While part of each element (such as a section or squad) provides security, other soldiers and vehicles in the element, positioned in a covered and concealed location, take the necessary steps. For example, vehicle crews remove all externally stored equipment, ensure mounted M8A1 alarms are functioning, affix M9 detector paper to vehicles, assume MOPP 4, and/or prepare the vehicle overpressurization system (as available and if METT-TC factors

permit). Dismounted elements assume MOPP 4 and assist the crews of the vehicles on which they ride. Once the necessary preparations are completed, vehicles move into overwatch positions; the rest of the company teamís vehicles then move to covered and concealed positions and follow the same procedures.

When all elements have been prepared, the company team uses standard tactical movement techniques (such as bounding overwatch) to cross the contaminated area. During this movement, vehicle crews continuously monitor the M8A1 and the M9 paper. Drivers and vehicle commanders must take precautions to avoid low ground, overhanging branches, and brushy areas as much as possible. While the unit is in the contaminated area, all personnel observe each other for signs of chemical poisoning.

Once the company team has successfully crossed the contaminated area, it halts temporarily. During the halt, detection teams monitor for the presence of chemical agents. As needed, vehicle crews and individual soldiers execute immediate decontamination. With higher headquartersí approval, they initiate unmasking procedures or request support for operational or thorough decontamination. Once these procedures are complete, the team continues its mission.


The procedures involved in crossing a radiologically contaminated area are similar to those for a chemically or biologically contaminated area, with the following additional considerations:

  • Vehicle preparation. Crews may store external equipment in the vehicle or cover it with a tarp. This prevents contaminated dust particles from accumulating on the equipment. Place wet sandbags or other materials on the vehicle floor to increase the amount of radiation shielding. When available, turn on the turret overpressure system to protect the crew compartment from contaminated dust.
  • Movement. Vehicles should limit their speed to minimize dust. In addition, they must maintain the correct dust interval.
  • Monitoring. Ensure that dosimeters (IM-93 and DT-236) are zeroed and/or operational (as applicable). Conduct continuous monitoring, ensuring that the unit does not exceed the commanderís OEG.
  • Decontamination. During decontamination, each soldier should cover his nose and mouth with a handkerchief or cloth to avoid breathing contaminated dust particles.



Nonpersistent agents

Nonpersistent contamination generally does not require decontamination; however, the duration and effectiveness of the chemical or biological agent employed will depend on a series of factors, including the following:

  • Type of contamination.
  • Temperature.
  • Wind speed.
  • Amount of sunlight.
  • Humidity and precipitation.
  • Density and droplet size of the contaminant.
  • Composition of the contaminated surface and/or type of soil/terrain.

Persistent agents

During continuous operations in areas of persistent chemical or biological contamination, decontamination is essential in preventing casualties and severe combat degradation. The company team will gain maximum benefit from the available time and decontamination resources by observing these considerations:

  • The company team should begin decontamination as soon as possible and as far forward as possible.
  • Decontamination should be conducted only to the extent that is necessary to ensure the teamís safety and operational readiness.
  • Decontamination priorities should be strictly observed to ensure unit safety and mission accomplishment.


The principles listed for decontamination involving persistent agents are consistent with doctrine that places the burden of decontamination at the task force level. Nonetheless, the company team must develop a thorough SOP, covering decontamination methods and priorities, that will allow it to use all available assets efficiently and as required.

The remainder of this section provides a detailed discussion of the levels of decontamination activities in which the company team may be involved. Refer to FM 3-5 for a more detailed explanation of NBC decontamination procedures.


Immediate decontamination is a basic soldier survival skill carried out by soldiers as soon as possible after they discover they are contaminated. Its basic purposes are to minimize casualties, save lives, and limit the further spread of contamination. Any contact between chemical or toxic agents and bare skin should be treated as an emergency. Some agents can kill if they remain on the skin for longer than a minute. The best technique for removing or neutralizing these agents is to use the M291 skin decontamination kit. Leaders must ensure that their soldiers are trained to execute this technique automatically, without waiting for orders.

Personal wipedown should begin within 15 minutes of contamination. The wipedown removes or neutralizes contamination on the hood, mask, gloves, and personal weapon. For chemical and biological contamination, soldiers use mitts from the M295 individual equipment decontamination kit (IEDK). For radiological contamination, they wipe off the contamination with a cloth or simply brush or shake it away.

Operatorís spraydown of equipment should begin immediately after completion of personal wipedown. The spraydown removes or neutralizes contamination on the surfaces operators must touch frequently to perform their mission. For chemical and biological contamination, operators can use on-board decontamination apparatuses, like the M11/M13, or the M295 IEDK to decontaminate surfaces to which DS2 cannot be applied. (NOTE: DS2 must be washed off surfaces no more than 30 minutes after application. If necessary, use 5-gallon water cans or other water sources to assist in removing DS2.) For radiological contamination, they brush or scrape away the contamination with whatever is at hand or flush it with water and wipe it away.


Operational decontamination allows a force to continue fighting and sustain momentum after being contaminated. It limits the hazard of transferring contamination by removing most of the gross contamination on equipment and nearly all the contamination on individual soldiers. This speeds the weathering process and allows clean areas (people, equipment, and terrain) to stay clean. Following operational decontamination, soldiers who have removed sources of vapor contamination from their clothing and equipment can use hazard-free areas to unmask temporarily and eat, drink, and rest.

The two types of operational decontamination, unsupported and supported, are covered in the following discussion. Refer to FM 3-5 for a complete discussion of operational decontamination. Table G-3 provides an operational decon checklist.

(assistance from
the task force only)

The company team uses its own resources, with personnel assistance from the task force, to conduct this type of operational decontamination. The procedure involves two decontamination techniques: vehicle washdown and MOPP gear exchange.

Vehicle washdown is conducted as far forward as possible with the assistance of the power-driven decontamination equipment (PDDE) crew provided by the task force; the crew moves using a five-ton truck (normally from the support platoon, located near the task force TOC). The PDDE crew provides specialized lightweight decontamination equipment for the washdown. (NOTE: Before performing vehicle washdown, company team elements should conduct operatorís spraydown to increase the effectiveness of decontamination.)

Vehicles should be washed with hot, soapy water for two to three minutes. Because speed is important and detection is difficult, crews should not check for contamination after the washdown. The equipment used to conduct the washdown should be able to provide 60 to 120 psi, the amount of pressure needed to remove gross contamination from vehicles. Unheated soapy water or plain water may be used if necessary but will be less effective. Crews can also apply the decontaminant with mops and stiff brooms, using 30-gallon trash cans as containers for the decontamination solution and water supply if no other equipment is available.

The MOPP gear exchange, conducted at the same time as the washdown, is best performed using the buddy system. The task force PDDE crew or the company supply team normally brings all the equipment required for the exchange. Vehicle drivers exchange their MOPP gear once vehicles have been washed down. (NOTE: For a listing of equipment requirements for MOPP gear exchange, refer to FM 3-5.)

Supported by the
decon platoon

The company team conducts supported operational decontamination with assistance from a chemical decontamination platoon supervised by the task force NBC NCO. The platoon includes three decontamination squads, equipped with an M12A1 power-driven decontamination apparatus or M17 lightweight decon systems, and a support squad with the capability of hauling 2,400 gallons of water.

The platoon can establish and operate two separate operational decon sites for vehicle washdown and MOPP gear exchange; as an alternative, it can operate a single, dual-lane site. (NOTE: Uncontaminated vehicles and personnel should not undergo either technique.)


Table G-3. Operational decontamination checklist.




Company team commander/XO/1SG conducts coordination with the task force chemical section on where to meet. Decontamination should be done between one and six hours after contamination.

Site selection

The company team NBC NCO chooses the decon site in coordination with the company team commander and the task force NBC NCO. Factors in site selection include the following:

  • The site should be off the main route but with easy access to the route.
  • The site should be large enough to accommodate the unit being decontaminated, with at least 100 square meters per squad-size element.
  • The site should afford adequate overhead concealment and facilitate effective security.
  • There must be an adequate water source; plan for 100 gallons per vehicle.
  • The site must afford good drainage.


Ensure that the task force PDDE crew knows the location, time, and number/types of vehicles to be decontaminated. The unit supply sergeant delivers decontaminants and replacement MOPP gear.

Site setup

The NBC NCO ensures that PDDE is positioned properly and is ready to dispense hot, soapy water. He ensures that the company team conducts MOPP gear exchange at the same time as vehicle washdown.

Site control and security

The NBC NCO ensures that vehicle drivers know when to move into position at the washdown location. The company team commander establishes site security.


The commander, XO, and/or 1SG ensure that the decon NCOIC processes vehicles at a rate of three minutes per vehicle. They ensure that soldiers complete MOPP gear exchange as needed.


The decon NCOIC ensures that the MOPP gear exchange area is cleaned up.

Marking and reporting

The decon NCOIC directs his team to properly mark the decontamination site and forwards an NBC-5 report to higher headquarters.



Thorough decontamination operations restore the combat power of maneuver units by removing nearly all contamination from soldiers, vehicles, and individual equipment. Executed promptly and correctly, these detailed procedures reduce the danger of contamination exposure to negligible risk levels. Just as important, they allow soldiers to operate equipment safely for extended periods at reduced MOPP levels. Refer to FM 3-5 for a detailed discussion of thorough decontamination.

Thorough decontamination is conducted to support operations throughout the battlefield or as part of a major reconstitution effort in brigade, division, or corps support areas. Below brigade level, units generally lack the quantities of decontamination resources (such as water, decontaminants, and time) required for coordination and execution of such an extensive process. In a very few cases, a contaminated unit may be able to conduct thorough decontamination with organic assets; an example is an FSB, which normally has four to six M17 decontamination systems. Most units, however, must depend on support from a chemical platoon.

When detailed equipment decontamination (DED) operations are required, the chemical unit usually selects a site, sets it up, and performs detailed procedures with assistance from the contaminated unit. Refer to Table G-4 for a list of personnel and equipment requirements for a DED site equipped with M12A1 apparatuses. Contaminated units conduct detailed troop decontamination (DTD) under the supervision of unit NBC personnel. Table G-5 lists the personnel and equipment required for a DTD site.

After completing thorough decontamination, the unit continues the mission or moves into an adjacent assembly area for reconstitution. Support elements from the brigade, division, or corps support area replenish combat stocks, refit equipment, and replace personnel and equipment. The newly reconstituted unit leaves the assembly area fully operational and fit to return to battle. A small risk from residual contamination remains, so periodic contamination checks must be made following this operation.

NOTE: Thorough decontamination does the most complete job of getting rid of contamination and related hazards, but as noted, it requires large quantities of valuable resources that may not be immediately available. In addition, under a variety of tactical or operational conditions, it will be impossible to execute such a major effort. The next best solution is to decontaminate only to the extent necessary to sustain the force and allow it to continue the mission. This entails using a combination of immediate and operational decontamination procedures.


Table G-4. Personnel and equipment requirements for detailed equipment decontamination site.






Station 1 - Washdown

  • Squad leader
  • 2 PDDE operators
  • 4 sprayers

4 scrubbers

  • 2 M12A1 apparatuses
  • 2 3,000-gallon tanks
  • 2 65-gpm pumps
  • 6 long-handled brushes
  • 8 TAP aprons
  • Liquid detergent

Station 2 -
DS2 application

  • Squad leader
  • 3 appliers

9 appliers

  • 18 long-handled brushes
  • 9 mops with extra mop heads
  • 3 30-gallon containers
  • 9 M13 DAPs
  • Sufficient DS2

Station 3 -
interior decontamination


2 interior decon assistants

  • 2 AN/VDR-2s or AN/PDR-27s
  • 3 TAP aprons
  • 6 30-gallon containers
  • 10 books M8 paper
  • 30 sponges
  • 8 M256A1 kits
  • 50 trash bags
  • Clipboard and pen
  • Stopwatch

Station 4 - Rinse

  • Squad leader
  • PDDE operator
  • 2 pump operators

2 sprayers

  • 1 M12A1 apparatus
  • 1 3,000-gallon tank
  • 3 65-gpm pumps
  • 2 TPUs
  • 2 TAP aprons

Station 5 - Check

2 CAM operators (NCOs)
  • 2 CAMs
  • 10 M256A1 kits
  • 20 books M8 paper
  • 2 AN/VDR-2s or AN/PDR-27s
  • 2 M8A1 alarms.

Command and control

  • Platoon leader
  • PSG
  • 1 HMMWV/CUCV with radio
  • 3 NBC marking kits






Table G-5. Personnel and equipment requirements for detailed troop decontamination site.





Station 1 -
Individual gear decontamination

  • 2 attendants
  • 1 monitor (CAM operator)
  • 3 30-gallon containers
  • 2 long-handle brushes
  • 2 ponchos or plastic sheets
  • 1 CAM
  • 8 books M8 paper
  • 4 M256A1 kits
  • 100 trash bags

Station 2 -
Overboot and hood decontamination

1 attendant
  • 2 cutting tools
  • 60 M258A1 or M295 kits (or 1 per person)
  • 2 ponchos or plastic tarps
  • 100 trash bags

Station 3 -
Overgarment removal

1 attendant
  • 10 M258A1 or M295 kits
  • 2 30-gallon containers
  • 100 trash bags

Station 4 -
Overboot and glove removal

1 attendant
  • 2 30-gallon containers
  • 100 trash bags
  • Engineer tape
  • Cutting tool

Station 5 - Monitoring

  • 1 attendant (CAM operator)
  • 1 aidman or combat lifesaver
  • 1 CAM
  • 5 books M8 detector paper
  • 24 M258A1 or M295 kits

Station 6 - Mask removal

2 attendants

1 M8A1 chemical alarm

Station 7 -
Mask decontamination

  • 2 mask decontamination attendants
  • 1 monitor
  • 4 3-gallon containers
  • 1 CAM
  • 2 sponges
  • 1 case paper towels
  • 1 immersion heater with container
  • Mask sanitizing solution

Station 8 - Reissue point

  • Unit supply sergeant
  • Unit NBC NCO

Mask PLL



One of the key features of the modern battlefield is the extensive use of smoke. Effective smoke is a combat multiplier. It can be used for identification, signaling, obscuration, deception, or screening. At the same time, employment of smoke must be carefully planned and coordinated to prevent interference with friendly units.

As the company team prepares for an operation, the commander should plan to take advantage of smoke from all available sources. Mission accomplishment, however, should never depend on smoke for success; the commander must develop alternative plans in case smoke delivery systems are not available.


Planning for the use of smoke on the battlefield, either by friendly or enemy forces, is an essential part of the overall tactical plan. As noted, smoke is a combat multiplier, but its employment must be carefully planned so it does not hinder the maneuver of other friendly units. Planning considerations include the following:

  • Commanders must develop alternate plans in case artillery, mortars, smoke generators, or smoke pots are not available on the battlefield.
  • Smoke screens for breach forces should be placed either directly on the enemy or between the enemy and the obstacle. Wind direction will dictate the source and type of smoke (such as artillery rounds, generated smoke, or smoke pots) used for the screen. Use artillery when the wind direction is from the enemy to the unit; use generated smoke when the wind is blowing toward the enemy. Careful consideration is necessary in determining which element (support force, breach force, or assault force) will use available smoke pots.
  • Lifting or shifting of the smoke screen may be necessary because of the dangers posed by WP rounds. Refer to the discussion of tactical considerations in smoke employment later in this section.
  • The effectiveness of smoke is highly dependent on weather conditions. Refer to the discussion of tactical considerations.
  • The company team commander will sometimes control maneuver of smoke units that are conducting task force-directed smoke missions.
  • The enemyís thermal imaging capability is a critical factor in the use of IR smoke, which can be approved by higher headquarters only.


The following paragraphs examine general uses of smoke on the battlefield.


Smoke is used to mark targets, supply and evacuation points, and friendly positions during CAS operations. As a means of prearranged battlefield communications, it can be employed to initiate such operations as displacement.


Obscuring smoke is delivered directly on or immediately in front of the enemyís positions, normally by projected means (such as artillery and mortars). The primary use of obscuring smoke is to blind the enemy or degrade his vision both within and beyond his positions. It can also defeat enemy target acquisition and guidance systems at their source.

Smoke can be fired on enemy positions to degrade the vision of gunners and known or suspected OPs, preventing them from seeing or tracking targets and thereby reducing their effectiveness. Employed against an attacking force, nonthermal smoke can cause confusion and disorientation by degrading the enemyís command and control capabilities; at the same time, friendly units retain the ability to engage the enemy using thermal sights. IR smoke, employed against an enemy with thermal imaging capability, can cause similar confusion and disorientation while defeating threat sensors/seekers. (NOTE: At the same time, however, friendly commanders considering use of IR smoke must weigh the cost to their own forces in terms of lost thermal sight capability.) Smoke is also useful at night to degrade enemy night vision devices.

Another important use of obscuring smoke is to cause enemy vehicles to become silhouetted as they emerge from the smoke. If smoke employment is planned and executed correctly, this will occur as the enemy reaches the trigger line (see Figure G-1).

Figure G-1. Using smoke to confuse the enemy and silhouette his vehicles.


Friendly forces use protecting smoke on the battlefield to defeat enemy guidance systems. For example, when enemy gunners have already fired ATGMs or have used laser designators, the commander can immediately employ protecting smoke to screen vehicle movement and defeat enemy guidance links.

Another important use of protecting smoke is to attenuate the effects of some types of enemy weapons, including directed-energy weapons and nuclear weapons. It does this by absorbing, reflecting, or refracting the energy generated by the weapon. In an active nuclear environment or when employment of nuclear weapons is likely, commanders can plan the use of protecting smoke to attenuate the thermal energy of nuclear detonation. When other resources are not available to defeat the enemyís smart weapons, IR smoke can increase survivability of friendly forces. (NOTE: IR smoke reduces the friendly forceís ability to maneuver freely on the battlefield; commanders must take this into consideration during planning.)


Deception smoke is used as part of the overall deception plan to mislead the enemy regarding friendly intentions. For example, it can be employed on several avenues of approach at once to deceive the enemy as to the direction of the main attack. In the defense, smoke may be fired at a remote location for the sole purpose of attracting attention and confusing the enemy. (NOTE: Deception smoke must complement other aspects of the deception plan; it should not be used alone to sell the "story.")


Smoke is used in the friendly area of operations or in areas between friendly and enemy forces to degrade enemy ground and aerial observation and to defeat or degrade enemy acquisition systems. Screening smoke helps to conceal the company team as it displaces from a BP or as it conducts tactical movement approaching enemy positions. Smoke can also be employed to conceal the team as it conducts a bypass, breach, or assault mission. Figures G-2 through G-4 illustrate uses of screening smoke.

Figure G-2. Using screening smoke to conceal displacement.

Figure G-3. Using screening smoke to conceal a bypass.

Figure G-4. Using screening smoke to conceal a breaching operation.


There are a number of sources of smoke on the battlefield, including the residual effects of burning vehicles, equipment, storage facilities, and other structures. Depending on availability, the company team commander can employ the following smoke delivery systems during tactical operations.


Mortar support, provided by the task force mortar platoon, is the most rapid and responsive means of indirect fire smoke delivery. The company team commander coordinates the planning and execution of mortar smoke missions with the team FIST. Most mortars (but not all) use WP rounds, which can degrade the effectiveness of thermal sights.

Field artillery

Cannons are used to place smoke on distant targets. Artillery assets can deliver either WP smoke or HC smoke; HC has less effect on thermal sights than does WP. Artillery smoke has a longer duration than mortar smoke; however, it may not be available unless it is planned and coordinated well in advance.

Smoke pots

These produce a large volume of white or grayish-white smoke that lasts for extended periods. The smoke has minimal effect on thermal sights. This is the only system that floats on water and that can be delivered by hand or vehicle. The company team may employ smoke pots to screen displacement or breaching operations.

Hand-held smoke

These can produce white or colored smoke. White smoke grenades are most often used to screen individual vehicles. Colored smoke grenades are primarily used to signal displacement and other critical events or to identify (mark) friendly unit positions and breach and evacuation locations. Smoke from hand-held grenades has minimal effect on thermal sights.

Vehicle smoke
grenade launchers

Grenade launchers, which can produce a limited amount of smoke, are used as a self-defense measure to screen or conceal the vehicle from enemy antitank gunners. They can also be used to screen individual vehicle displacement. Smoke from vehicle-launched grenades can degrade thermal sights.

Vehicle engine
exhaust smoke

The VEESS injects diesel fuel into the engine exhaust to produce smoke. It serves primarily as a self-defense measure for individual vehicles, but a vehicle crew can also employ it to screen other friendly vehicles if wind conditions and the direction of vehicle movement allow. This system consumes fuel at the rate of one gallon per minute of operation. It can be used only with diesel fuel because other fuels, such as JP-8, create a fire hazard.

Tactical smoke

These wheel- or track-mounted systems are available through chemical units; their use is prescribed at battalion or brigade level. The generators can produce large-area smoke screens covering several square kilometers. This type of smoke normally does not affect thermal sights; however, the new M56 (wheel-mounted) and M58 (track-mounted) systems can produce IR smoke, which can defeat both friendly and enemy thermal imaging capabilities.



The effectiveness of smoke in tactical situations (including the time required to build the cloud and cloud duration) depends in large measure on the weather. Wind direction, wind speed, humidity, and cloud cover are important considerations. If the wind is strong or blowing in the wrong direction, it may be impossible to establish an effective smoke screen. Smoke clouds build up faster and last longer the higher the humidity and the greater the cloud cover. The best time to use smoke is when the ground is cooler than the air. The commander should evaluate the weather before using smoke, conducting a test of the conditions whenever possible.

Type of smoke

Certain types of smoke will degrade visual, infrared, and thermal sights. Enemy capabilities and the desired effect of the smoke (such as screening or obscuration) will dictate what type is requested. (NOTE: Even types of smoke that do not affect thermal sights may prevent the vehicleís laser range finder from computing an accurate ballistic solution. Under such conditions, crewmen must rely on such techniques as range estimation and battlesighting.)


Navigational aids such as POSNAV, GPS (including PLGR), and thermal sights assist individual vehicles during movement through smoke, while IVIS, appliqué, and other digital systems help the commander to maintain situational awareness and control of the company team.


The following paragraphs discuss the impact of smoke on company team maneuver, with procedures, techniques, and considerations for offensive and defensive operations.


A defending enemy may employ smoke to confuse and disorient the attacker. Whenever the company team is traveling through smoke, whether it is of friendly or enemy origin, the vehicle commander must remember that his vehicle will be silhouetted as it emerges from the smoke. The critical consideration is for all vehicles to emerge at the same time. The navigational tools discussed previously enable the commander to maintain command and control during movement and to posture the team to mass fires against previously unidentified enemy vehicles as it exits the smoke.

During an assault, friendly smoke should be shifted in advance of the arrival of the assault element. The use of multispectral smoke for obscuration must be carefully planned. The duration of the effects of the smoke should be controlled based on the capability of enemy and friendly units to acquire and engage targets through the smoke and on the ability of friendly units to maintain situational awareness during movement.


An attacking enemy may employ smoke on the company teamís positions or in the teamís engagement area. As noted, this may not only "blind" thermal sights but also prevent laser range finders from determining accurate ranges to targets. One solution is to occupy alternate BPs that conform with the commanderís intent but that are not obscured by smoke. If multispectral smoke does not disable thermal sights, the vehicle commander can use sector sketches with grid lines, range bands, and TRPs to estimate the target range in the absence of a laser-computed range.


The company team commander must be prepared to react instantly and effectively when the enemy employs smoke on the battlefield. Countermeasures include the following:

  • See through the smoke. Thermal sights can see through most types of smoke with little or no degradation. If this is the case, the company team can fight as planned. If smoke degrades sights to the point that execution is affected, however, the commander must move the team closer to the engagement area or obstacle or adjust the engagement area closer to his positions.
  • Use countersmoke to blind enemy defenders. This tactic is used when the enemy produces a smoke screen in front of the attacking company team. When the team exits the screen, its vehicles will be silhouetted by the smoke and can be effectively engaged by enemy gunners. To prevent this, the commander can place smoke between the enemyís screen and the objective using mortar or field artillery fires. This smoke will blind the enemy and cover the teamís movement to the objective.
  • Use enemy smoke to cover friendly movement. When the enemy places smoke directly on the company teamís defensive position or when he establishes a screen in front of his advancing units, the team can use the concealment provided by the enemy smoke to move to alternate or supplementary positions covering the enemyís route of advance.