Can naval surface forces operate under chemical weapons conditions?
Stebbins, Adriane A.
Lavoy, Peter R.
Iatrou, Steven J.
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The acquisition and modernization of chemical warfare (CW) capabilities by state and non-state actors, coupled with the vulnerability of ships restricted in maneuverability to chemical weapons attacks, makes CW defense an increased priority for the U.S. Navy. Adversaries may be deterred from using chemical weapons against naval forces if the U.S. Navy demonstrates that it can continue operations under CW conditions. In order to conduct a psychological operations campaign that will achieve the desired result, naval forces must be prepared to conduct operations in CW environments while simultaneously protecting personnel from the effects of chemical weapons. This thesis applies the principles of chemical defense outlined in Joint Publication 3-11- contamination avoidance, protection, and decontamination-to requirements for naval operations. It then compares the current doctrine, training, organization, and equipment of the U.S. Navy to the requirements generated by the Department of Defense. This thesis argues that the ability of the U.S. Navy to conduct military operations in CW environments could be improved through expanded operational doctrine, a reorganization of shipboard roles for CW defense, integrated and realistic unit training, and additional procurement of collective protection systems. Implementation of these modest recommendations can dramatically increase the CW preparedness of the U.S. Navy.
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