“What does (or should) Italian Public Opinion Know?”by Riccardo Cappelli
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
Paper presented to the conference “Perspectives towards the Chemical Weapons Convention’sFourth Year”, Firenze, Italy, December 4, 2000.