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NBC paper 04012000

NBC paper 04012000

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Published by r_cappelli
ABSTRACT
This paper explains the reasons why the Italian public opinion should be interested in biological and chemical
risk/threat. In fact, it
is wrong not to be interested in the chemical and biological disarmament process, just as it is
to believe that an international agreement is enough to resolve the thorny question of
poisonous weapons. Furthermore, as Nixon would say, “for every complicated problem there
is always a simple answer, and usually it is wrong”. Obviously, the heavy veil of secrecy
surrounding the entire “chemical and biological weapons” question certainly does not help in
achieving a solution to the problem.
ABSTRACT
This paper explains the reasons why the Italian public opinion should be interested in biological and chemical
risk/threat. In fact, it
is wrong not to be interested in the chemical and biological disarmament process, just as it is
to believe that an international agreement is enough to resolve the thorny question of
poisonous weapons. Furthermore, as Nixon would say, “for every complicated problem there
is always a simple answer, and usually it is wrong”. Obviously, the heavy veil of secrecy
surrounding the entire “chemical and biological weapons” question certainly does not help in
achieving a solution to the problem.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: r_cappelli on Nov 26, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/10/2010

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“What does (or should) Italian Public Opinion Know?”by Riccardo Cappelli
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It would take many hours to comprehensively cover the subject I am about to talk on, but,making a supreme effort to synthesise it, it could be summarised as follows: “What doesItalian public opinion know?” Not very much; “What should it know?” A lot.
The Military’s Position on Chemical-Biological War
First of all, NBC defence is still a problem for military planners. For example, according to aPentagon study, the complete NBC uniform would greatly reduce the soldier’s fightingcapacity, as he would be subject to heat stroke and dehydration, incapable of understandingverbal and radio communication well, prevented from using night vision systems and able tocarry out assigned tasks only when tripling the normal time for execution (Stone 1999).Furthermore, for example, most marines equipped with individual NBC protection whencarrying out a simulated naval disembarkation in a contaminated environment, were hit by“seasickness” well before being in sight of the beach (Utgoff 1990). In general, the UnitedStates’ NBC defence exercises demonstrated that the use of mass-destruction weapons by theenemy provokes losses (physical and psychological), slows movement and greatly lowersmilitary capacities (operations co-ordination, precision and intensity of fire, etc. v. Orton e Neumann 1993). Other military exercises in the NBC field have shown that 10-20% of  participants become anxious, claustrophobic or panic and some try to flee, taking off their  protective clothing (Singh 1992). All this obviously leads to a greater logistic effort tomaintain operations given that the fighting units need on average more men, more resourcesand more time to finish the assigned tasks (Mojecki 1992). Finally, also the health servicesare greatly stretched by an NBC emergency both due to the high forecasted number of victims and the complexity of therapeutic treatment, which has to be as quick as possible.During the Cold War, NATO feared a Soviet blitzkrieg accompanied by the launchof chemical substances on a tactical level, given that the Red Army had impressive quantitiesof toxic arms of all types at their disposal as well as a chemical service made up of about95,000 specialists (Hemsley 1987). However, it is interesting to observe that in a recentlydeclassified CIA document dedicated to analysing hypothetical developments in the armed
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Paper presented to the conference “Perspectives towards the Chemical Weapons Convention’sFourth Year”, Firenze, Italy, December 4, 2000.
 
forces and the doctrine of the countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact in the nineties, there isno hint of the chemical and biological enemy threat (CIA 1989).In the preparations for the 1991 Gulf War, analysis of the chemical attacks that took  place during the Iran-Iraq war and the Iraqi arsenal of prohibited arms meant the alliedcoalition probably have to operate in a contaminated environment. However, despite years of asserted preparations to confront a Soviet chemical and biological offensive in grand style,the American and British forces arrived badly equipped and even worse trained in the NBCdefence sector in the Persian Gulf. In fact, for example, the 24
th
USA infantry division’s Foxvehicles for detecting NBC gave false alarms a good eight times (DoD 1997). The latter hadnegative repercussions both on the troops’ morale and bodies, as they were forced to work inthe NBC uniform in the desert heat, as well as being able to set off dangerous militaryescalations (Wallerstein 1998). Furthermore, the situation behind the front was disastrous,with reserves and civilians barely trained in confronting the chemical and biological threat,divided into more than one hundred dispersed bases with communication difficulties, wherenotable quantities of materials and equipment were amassed outside, exposed to biologicaland chemical enemy threat. Moreover, there also lacked a sufficient number of detection anddecontamination systems, etc (Mauroni 1998). Despite the deficiencies come across in theGulf War, the United States’ armed forces still today encounter numerous problems in thefield of NBC defence. For example, there lacks a sufficient amount of protective clothing,there are inadequate detection systems, little attention on the part of commanders to the NBCthreat, the medical personnel is badly trained in confronting NBC emergencies, etc. (GAO1996 e 1998). Recent exercises held in the United Statesnational centre for trainingconfirmed the lack of attention on the part of the commanders in NBC training. Above all,not “refreshing” the USA military’s preparation at regular intervals in the field of operationsin a contaminated environment makes all past didactic efforts in vain (Reeves 2000).The British also encountered notable problems in assuring the perfect functioning of their instruments for detecting NBC, they resulted often too complex to action, with out-of-date equipment capable of producing a great number of false alarms, calibrated only toreveal a limited number of chemical agents, etc. Furthermore, the NBC uniform adapted for European operations was extremely heavy and uncomfortable in a desert environment. It wasforecast that in the case of a temperature greater than 30°, personnel with the NBC uniformundertaking heavy work would have to work for a period of 5-10 minutes with 15-30 minute
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rests and, in these conditions, every soldier would need at least 15 litres of water a day: a realchallenge for the logistic apparatus.The Royal Navy even boarded yellow canaries on two ships, memories of the experiences of the First World War (moreover, an official analysis on NBC preparation in the Gulf drawnup by the British forces, the canary experiment is taken so seriously as to criticise it, as in thecase of a natural death there could be episodes of panic…v. MoD 1999).
The Risk Represented by Chemical-Biological Armament
The risks posed to European security connected to the proliferation of mass-destructionweapons are essentially: terrorist acts, incidents with NBC agents diffusing in theatmosphere, instability on a regional or even world-wide level (with growing violations of the international regulative structure) and, finally, attacks with toxic substances againstEuropean military contingents in service abroad and/or against the European territory(Cornish, van Ham e Krause 1996). The western military in “out-of-area” service should betranquillised by the fact that historically the chemical weapon has never been used againstadversaries who could express nuclear and/or chemical mass retaliation. Regarding this,since the Gulf War a debate has arisen centred on how to respond to an attack with chemicaland biological weapons. In this specific case, most claim that Saddam Hussein did not usetoxic weapons mainly for fear of nuclear retaliation, others are of the opinion that Bushwould never have authorised an atomic retaliation (Utgoff 1997). According to a morearticulated but arguable interpretation the Iraqi leadership abstained from using NBCweapons because of: 1) allied bombing (which would have heavily damaged the logistics, NBC deposit and production centres, command, control and communication equipment; 2)adverse meteorological conditions; 3) fear of losing international support; 4) inability toassemble a chemical head on the Scud missiles; 5) the dispersion of enemy troops; 6) theallied forces’ preparation to act in a contaminated environment and their readiness to “gonuclear(Dumoulin 1995, 45-46). But all these listed points are arguable: the allied bombings never completely interrupted the C3 process (so much so that Saddam Husseinwas able to send orders for the whole duration of the conflict and also afterwards) and thenotable damages to the NBC logistics and plants did not have direct consequences on theIraqi troops as they were equipped with further well-supplied deposits, including chemicalweapons (GAO 1997; Eddington 1999). The meteorological conditions were not on thewhole favourable, but it should be considered that when force was used in the air and ground
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