CBRN Reconnaissance Platoon
There is a long and rich history of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) reconnaissance, today also known or referred to as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance within the United States Army. Scholars and experts believe that as early as 1935 Chemical-Warfare schools publications discussed the need to identify, mark, and produce a method to avoid contaminated areas. Avoidance is the most important fundamental of NBC Defense. In addition to the casualties an attack can cause, the contamination that may come with an attack also causes casualties and produces long-term hazards that can interfere with the mission. Overcoming these hazards can tie up tremendous amounts of labor and equipment. Finding the clean areas when the mission allows reduces casualties and saves resources. (FM 3-100, NBC Operations, 1985).
Before World War II, the United States War Department put into circulation Field Manual (FM) 21-40, Defense against Chemical Attacks. This field manual associated the concept of traditional Reconnaissance with the establishment of a chemical defensive posture allowing a rapid recovery of the force from enemy attack and the ability to continue with offensive operations. Gordon L. Rottman, a former US Army Special Operations Vietnam veteran points out in his book (World War II Combat Reconnaissance Tactics, 2007) Reconnaissance as the activity of reconnoitering to collect information through surveillance and examination of a specific site, or of enemy forces location, and their activities. In World War II the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Germany, and Japan began implementing the use of Reconnaissance on the battlefield. Each country showed differences in organization, tactics, techniques, and similarities. Many of the tactics and techniques have been adopted by the Chemical Warfare reconnaissance and utilize to impact the mission effectively, techniques used today such as Area Recon, Route Recon, and Point Recon. Before the year 1945, warnings from chemical agents present in the battlefield came from the soldiers physical senses, warning soldiers to mask. Odors such as garlic indicated mustard agent, and fresh-mown hay were identified as phosgene. Identification kits were man operated that required someone with experience to get accurate results. The chemical agent detectors, for instance, relied on a trained human operator manually pumping air through several silica gel-filled glass tubes, each one filled with a specific reagent to detect different chemical agents. (Mauroni, America's Struggle with Chemical-Biological Warfare, 2000) Tactics and methods used during the early stages of chemical warfare led to the development of significant improvements which included the modification of detector paper, the development of an specific 1 ½ inch long glass detector tube with silica gel absorbents, and enzyme tickets that changed color when expose to an agent....