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Fighting Dirty: Supporting the Joint Force in a CBRN Environment

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The US Army has the primary responsibility to provide Chemical, Biologic, Radiological, and Nuclear CBRN, and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction C-WMD units to the Joint Force. CBRN weapons proliferating among state and non-state actors threaten United States interests. Current policy requires the US Army to support the joint force in two theaters, and that all major campaigns include C-WMD operations. With a recent reduction in the Chemical Corps force structure, the additional requirement of supporting C-WMD missions, and multiple potential adversaries capable of employing CBRN weapons, can the Chemical Corps support the joint force in more than a single theater of operations with forces that simultaneously conduct CBRN defense and C-WMD missions This monograph explores CBRN support by examining the threat, doctrine and organization, and mission sets of CBRN forces through two case studies. The Chemical Corps transformed its doctrine and organization in response to the Cold War threat, and the employment of chemical forces in Operation Desert Storm demonstrates these changes. The second case study examines a potential conflict against two near-peer, CBRN-capable adversaries to assess if the Chemical Corps forces, after recent changes in doctrine and organization, adequately support the joint force. Meeting current requirements to support the joint forces CBRN defense and C-WMD operations in two theaters means the Army and the Chemical Corps must assume a significant amount of risk by deploying nearly all of its Regular Army force and drawing heavily out of the National Guard and Army Reserves. This hampers the National Guards and Army Reserves ability to provide CBRN forces in support of homeland defense and response requirements. Growing the Regular Army chemical forces combined better positions the Army and the Chemical Corps to meet CBRN defense and C-WMD objectives.

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