Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 13-1 – Chemical Weapons

A toxic chemical agent is any toxic chemical that, through its chemical action on life processes, can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans. Additionally, you can experience significant physiological effects. Chemical agents, further divided into chemical warfare (CW) agents, are classified according to their physical states, physiological actions, and uses. Chemical agents may appear in the field in the forms of vapors, aerosols, or liquids. The terms persistent and nonpersistent describe the time chemical agents remain in an area and do not classify the agents technically. The persistent chemical agents may last anywhere from hours up to days and will necessitate future decontamination and the wearing of protective equipment in that area; whereas nonpersistent chemical agents will last for only a matter of minutes to hours, but are usually more lethal. Chemical agents having military significance are categorized as nerve, blister, blood, incapacitating, or choking agents.


13-1. These chemical agents kill, seriously injure, or incapacitate unprotected personnel when employed as discussed in the following paragraphs.


13-2. If you are in a contaminated area, protective clothing and a mask are the only sufficient protection against nerve agents. Nerve agents act quickly: effects can occur seconds, minutes, or hours after exposure.


  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Drooling.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Convulsions.
  • Dim vision (sometimes).

Convulsant Antidote for Nerve Agents

13-3. The CANA is an autoinjector containing 10 milligrams of diazepam for intramuscular administration to control nerve agent induced seizures (Figure 13-1). Administration of atropine and 2 PAM alone often does not prevent the occurrence of severe and long lasting convulsions after nerve agent exposure. The CANA, designed for buddy aid administration and not self administration, is intended to terminate the convulsions.


Use the casualty’s CANA when providing aid. Do not use your own. If you do, you might not have any antidote available when you need it.

Antidote Treatment, Nerve Agent, Autoinjector System–When Mark I supplies are exhausted, use the antidote treatment, nerve agent, autoinjector (ATNAA) system. A single ATNAA delivers both atropine and two Pam CL. See FM 4-25.11 (FM 21-11) and FM 8-285 for more information.

Self-Aid–If you have symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, inject one NAAK in your thigh. If symptoms persist, inject a second one. Allow at least 15 minutes between injections, and do not exceed three NAAK injections. First aid measures include (Figure 13-2)–

— Atropine.
–Two PAM nerve agent antidote kits (NAAKs).
— Mark I.
— Artificial respiration.
— Protective clothing.
— Mask.

Buddy-Aid–If a Soldier is so incapacitated that he cannot treat himself, then a buddy must inject three NAAKs at once, IAW the instructions in the kit, and without waiting 15 minutes between injections. Then, he immediately gives artificial respiration. (The maximum number of NAAK injections you may receive is three.) If that does not help, he must administer Mark I. Then, he masks the casualty and quickly seeks medical aid for him. Administer the CANA with the third Mark I to prevent convulsions. Do not administer more than one CANA.


The maximum number of NAAK injections is three. Do not exceed this amount. Giving yourself a second set of injections may create a nerve agent antidote overdose, which could cause incapacitation.


Use the casualty’s own antidote autoinjectors when providing aid. Do not use your injectors on a casualty. If you do, you might not have any antidote available when needed for self aid.


13-4. The symptoms of blister agent poisoning are burning sensations in the skin, eyes, and nose. The symptoms may be immediate or delayed for several hours or days, depending on the type of agent used. If blister agents come in contact with the eyes or skin, decontaminate the areas at once. Decontaminate the eyes by flushing them repeatedly with plain water. If burns or blisters develop on the skin, cover them with sterile gauze or a clean cloth to prevent infection. If you are in a contaminated area, your protective clothing and mask are the only sufficient protection. Seek medical aid quickly.


13-5. The symptoms of blood agent poisoning are nausea, dizziness, throbbing headache, red or pink skin/lips, convulsions, and coma. Blood agents cause immediate casualties when absorbed by breathing and inhibits the red blood cells ability to deliver oxygen to the body’s organs and tissue. Breathing may become difficult or stop, and death will usually occur within 15 minutes. If you are in a contaminated area, your protective mask is the only sufficient protection. Seek medical aid quickly.


13-6. The symptoms of choking agent poisoning are coughing, choking, tightness of the chest, nausea, headache, dry throat, and watering of the eyes. Lungs fill with liquid known as dry land drowning and death results from the lack of oxygen. If you are in a contaminated area, your protective mask is the only sufficient protection. If you have these symptoms immediately, seek medical aid.


13-7. Incapacitating agents differ from other chemical agents in that the lethal dose is theoretically many times greater than other agents are. That is, it takes much more of an incapacitating agent to kill someone (FM 3-11.4).


13-8. See FM 4-02.7, FM 3-11.4, FM 3-11.19, and TRADOC G2 Handbook No. 1.04 for more information.


  • TIMs are produced to prescribed toxicity levels.
  • TIMs are administered through inhalation (mostly), ingestion, or absorption.
  • MOPP gear may or may not protect against TIMs and other vapor or contact hazards.
  • TIMs may be stored or used in any environment and for any tactical purpose, including industrial, commercial, medical, military, or domestic purposes.


13-9. TIMs may take any of these three forms:

  • Chemical (toxic industrial chemicals, or TIC).
  • Biological (toxic industrial biological, or TIB).
  • Radioactive (toxic industrial radiological, or TIR).


13-10. Some examples of TIM include–

  • Fuels.
  • Oils.
  • Pesticides.
  • Radiation sources.
  • Arsenic.
  • Cyanide.
  • Metals such as mercury and thallium.
  • Phosgene.


13-11. Your senses may be unable to detect chemicals. Most agents are odorless, colorless, tasteless, and invisible in battlefield concentrations. However, by using unit-level chemical agent alarms and detection kits, you can detect chemical agents yourself.


13-12. The M22 ACADA detects and warns of the presence of standard blister and nerve agents (Figure 13-3). The M22 ACADA system is man-portable, operates independently after system startup, and produces an audible and visual alarm. The M22 system also has a communications interface that automatically provides battlefield warning and reporting. The system monitors the air in all environmental conditions, within standard wheeled and tracked vehicles, and within collective protection shelters.


13-13. The ICAM identifies nerve and blister agent contamination on personnel and equipment (Figure 13-4). The ICAM is a handheld, individually operated, post-attack tool for monitoring chemical agent contamination on personnel and equipment. It detects and discriminates between vapors of nerve and mustard agents. The ICAM gives you instant feedback of chemical hazard levels, and quickly identifies the presence of contamination.


13-14. The M8 detector paper is the only means of identifying the type of chemical agent present in liquid form on the battlefield (Figure 13-5). You will carry one booklet of 25 sheets of M8 paper in the interior pocket of the protective mask carrier. Once you encounter an unknown liquid suspected of being a chemical agent, you must don and check your mask within 9 seconds, and then quickly don the attached hood. Next, alert others who are nearby and don all the rest of your chemical protective clothing. Remove the booklet of M8 paper from your mask carrier, tear a half sheet from the booklet, and, if you can, affix the sheet to a stick. Using the stick as a handle, blot the paper onto the unknown liquid and wait 30 seconds for a color change. To identify the type of agent, compare the resulting color to those on the inside front cover of the booklet. The paper sheets turn dark green, yellow, or red on contact with liquid V-type nerve agents, G-type nerve agents, or blister (mustard) agents. Unfortunately, they cannot detect vapors.


13-15. M9 chemical agent detector paper is the most widely used tool used to detect liquid chemical agents (Figure 13-6). M9 paper contains a suspension of an agent-sensitive, red indicator dye in a paper base. It detects and turns pink, red, reddish brown, or red purple when exposed to liquid nerve and blister agents, but it cannot identify the specific agent. Confirm the results of the M9 paper by using the M256 kit. Carry one 30-feet long by 2-inch wide roll of M9 paper with adhesive backing. This will make it easier to wrap a strip of the paper around a sleeve and trouser leg of your protective overgarment. Place the M9 detector paper on opposite sides of your body. If you are right handed, place a strip of M9 paper around your right upper arm, left wrist, and right ankle, and vice versa if you are left handed. You should also attach M9 paper to large pieces of equipment such as shelters or vehicles.


When attaching M9 chemical paper to equipment, first place the equipment in an area free from dirt, grease, and oil. This is especially important since petroleum products will discolor the paper.


13-16. The M256 has a carrying case, a booklet of M8 paper, 12 disposable sampler-detectors individually sealed in a plastic laminated foil envelope, and a set of instruction cards attached by lanyard to the plastic carrying case (Figure 13-7). The case has a nylon carrying strap and belt attachment. Use this kit to detect and identify blood, blister, and nerve agents, in liquid and vapor forms. You can use it to determine when you can safely unmask, to locate and identify chemical hazards during reconnaissance, and to monitor decontamination effectiveness. Each sampler-detector has a square, impregnated spot for blister agents, a round test spot for blood agents, a star test spot for nerve agents, a lewisite-detecting tablet, and a rubbing tab.

13-17. Of the eight glass ampoules, six contain reagents for testing, and an attached chemical heater contains the other two. When you crush the ampoules between your fingers, formed channels in the plastic sheets direct the flow of liquid reagent, wetting the test spots. Each test spot or detecting tablet develops a distinctive color to show whether a chemical agent is present in the air.

13-18. Follow the directions on the foil packets or in the instruction booklet, and in about 20 minutes, you can conduct a complete test using the liquid-sensitive M8 paper and the vapor-sensitive sampler-detector.

Note: The M256 is not an alarm. It is just a tool for Soldiers to use after they receive other warnings about the possible presence of chemical agents.


13-19. Take these steps to protect against a chemical attack:

  • Identify automatic masking criteria.
  • Don your protective mask when there is a high probability of a chemical attack, such as when– –A chemical alarm sounds. –A positive reading is obtained on detector paper. –Individuals exhibit symptoms of CB agent poisoning. –You observe a contamination marker. –Your leader tells you to mask. –You see personnel wearing protective masks.
    • Respond to the commander’s policy of automatic masking.
    • Note: When chemical weapons have been employed, commanders may modify policy by designating additional events as automatic masking criteria.
  • Don, clear, and check your assigned protective mask to protect yourself from CB contamination.
  • Give the alarm by yelling “Gas” and giving the appropriate hand and arm signal.
  • Take cover to reduce exposure, using whatever means are readily available.
  • Decontaminate exposed skin using the individual decontaminating kit, as necessary.
  • Assume MOPP4. –Cover all skin (head and shoulders already protected by mask and overgarment). –Put on the gloves with liners. –Zip and fasten the overgarment jacket. –Secure the hood, and then secure the overgarment to increase protection. –Put on the overboots.



13-20. Your main protection against a CB attack is your protective mask. The M40A1/A2 series mask provides respiratory, eye, and face protection against CB agents, radioactive fallout particles, and battlefield contaminants. The M42A2 combat vehicle crew (CVC) CB mask has the same components as the M40 A1/A2 (Figure 13-8). In addition, the M42A2 CVC mask has a detachable microphone for wire communications. The canister on the M42A2 mask is attached to the end of a hose and has an adapter for connection to a gas particulate filter unit (GPFU).


13-21. Additionally, protective clothing will provide protection from liquid agents. Protective clothing includes the chemical protective suit, boots, gloves, and helmet cover. The protective clothing is referred to as the joint service lightweight integrated suit technology (JSLIST), which has replaced the battle dress overgarment (BDO). The JSLIST has a service life of 120 days of which 45 days is the maximum wear time. The JSLIST service life begins when the garment is removed from the factory vacuum sealed bag. It can be laundered up to six times for personal hygiene purposes and provides 24 hours of protection against liquid, solid, and/or vapor CB attacks. It also provides protection against radioactive alpha and beta particles.


13-22. The chemical protective gloves protect you against CB agents and alpha and beta radioactive particles as long as they remain serviceable. The glove sets come in three levels of thicknesses (7, 14, and 25 mil). The 7 mil glove set is used for tasks that require extreme sensitivity and will not expose the gloves to harsh treatment. The 14 mil glove set is used by personnel such as vehicle mechanics and weapon crews whose tasks require tactility and will not expose the gloves to harsh treatment. The more durable, 25 mil glove set is used by personnel who perform close combat tasks and other types of heavy labor. If the 14 and 25 mil glove sets become contaminated with liquid chemical agents, decontaminate or replace them within 24 hours after exposure. If the 7 mil glove set becomes contaminated, replace or decontaminate them within 6 hours after exposure.


13-23. Chemical protective footwear includes the green vinyl overshoe (GVO), black vinyl overshoe (BVO), and multi purpose lightweight overboot (MULO). The GVO is a plain, olive drab (OD) green, vinyl overshoe with elastic fasteners. The BVO is very similar to the GVO, except for the color and enlarged tabs on each elastic fastener. You can wear the GVO, BVO, or MULO over your combat boots to protect your feet from contamination by all known agents, vectors, and radioactive alpha and beta particles for a maximum of 60 days of durability and 24 hours of protection against CB agents.


13-24. The chemical protective footwear cover (CPFC) is impermeable and protects your feet from CB agents, vectors, and radioactive alpha and beta particles for a minimum of 24 hours, as long as it remains serviceable.


13-25. The chemical protective helmet cover (CPHC) is a one piece configuration made of butyl coated nylon cloth and gathered at the opening by elastic webbing enclosed in the hem. The cover comes in one size and is OD green color. The helmet cover protects your helmet from CB contamination and radioactive alpha and beta particles.


13-26. Mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) is a flexible system of protection against chemical agents. Your leader will specify the level of MOPP based on the chemical threat, work rate, and temperature prior to performing a mission. Later, he may direct a change in MOPP according to the changing situation. The MOPP level determines what equipment you must wear and carry. Your unit may increase this level as necessary, but they may not decrease it. The standard MOPP levels are shown in the following chart.

Table 13-1. MOPP levels.

Ready Only
Mask Carried Carried Carried Carried Worn Worn Worn***
JSLIST Ready* Avail** Worn Worn Worn Worn
Overboots Ready* Avail** Avail** Worn Worn Worn
Gloves Ready* Avail** Avail** Avail** Avail** Worn
Helmet Cover Ready* Avail** Avail** Worn Worn Worn
* Item must be available to Soldier within two hours, with replacement available within six hours. ** Item must be positioned within arm’s reach of the Soldier. *** Soldier Never “mask only” if a nerve or blister agent has been used in the AO.


13-27. Contamination forces your unit into protective equipment that degrades performance of individual and collective tasks. Decontamination restores combat power and reduces casualties that may result from exposure, allowing your unit to sustain combat operations.


  1. Decontaminate as soon as possible.
  2. Decontaminate only what is necessary.
  3. Decontaminate as far forward as possible.
  4. Decontaminate by priority.


13-28. The following decontamination levels and techniques are shown in tabular format in Table 13-2 (FM 3-11.4):

  1. Immediate decontamination is a basic Soldier survival skill and is performed IAW STP 21-1-SMCT. Personal wipedown removes contamination from exposed skin and individual equipment.
  2. Operational decontamination involves MOPP gear exchange and vehicle spraydown. When a thorough decontamination cannot be performed, MOPP gear exchange should be performed within six hours of contamination.
  3. Thorough decontamination involves detailed troop decontamination (DTD) and detailed equipment decontamination (DED). Thorough decontamination is normally conducted by company size elements as part of restoration or during breaks in combat operations. These operations require support from a chemical decontamination platoon and a water source or supply.
  4. Clearance decontamination provides decontamination to a level that allows unrestricted transport, maintenance, employment, and disposal.

Table 13-2. Decontamination levels and techniques.

Levels Techniques1 Purpose Best Start Time Performed By
Immediate Skin decontamination Personal wipe down Operator wipe down Spot decontamination Saves lives Stops agent from penetrating Limits agent spread Limits agent spread Before 1 minute Within 15 minutes Within 15 minutes Within 15 minutes Individual Individual or buddy Individual or crew Individual or crew
Operational MOPP gear exchange2 Vehicle wash down Provides temporary relief from MOPP4 Limits agent spread Within 6 hours Within 1 hour (CARC) or within 6 hours (nonCARC) Unit Battalion crew or decontamination platoon
Thorough DED and DAD DTD Provides probability of long-term MOPP reduction When mission allows reconstitution Decontamination platoon Contaminated unit
Clearance Unrestricted use of resources METT-TC depending on the type of equipment contaminated When mission permits Supporting strategic resources
1 The techniques become less effective the longer they are delayed. 2 Performance degradation and risk assessment must be considered when exceeding 6 hours.


M291 Skin Decontaminating Kit–The M291 Skin Decontamination Kit has a wallet like carrying pouch containing six individual decontamination packets, enough to perform three complete skin decontaminations (Figure 13-9). Instructions for use are marked on the case and packets. Each packet contains an applicator pad filled with decontamination powder. Each pad provides you with a single step, nontoxic/nonirritating decontamination application. Decontamination is accomplished by application of a black decontamination powder contained in the applicator pad. The M291 can be used on the skin, including the face and around wounds as well as some personal equipment such as your rifle, mask, and gloves. The M291 allows you to completely decontaminate yourself and equipment skin through physical removal, absorption, and neutralization of toxic agent with no long term harmful effects.


This kit is for external use only. It may be slightly irritating to eyes or skin. Be sure to keep the decontamination powder out of eyes, cuts, or wounds, and avoid inhalation of the powder.

M295 Equipment Decontamination Kit–The M295 is issued in boxes of 20 kits (Figure 13-10). The M295 kit has a pouch containing four individual wipe down mitts; each enclosed in a soft, protective packet. The packet is designed to fit comfortably within a pocket of the JSLIST. The M295 allows you to decontaminate through the physical removal and absorption of chemical agents. Each individual wipe down mitt in the kit is comprised of a decontaminating powder contained within a pad material and a polyethylene film backing. In use, powder from the mitt is allowed to flow freely through the pad material. Decontamination is accomplished by adsorption of the liquid agent by the resin and the pad.

M100 Sorbent Decontamination System–The M100 Sorbent Decontamination System (SDS) replaces the M11 and M13 decontamination apparatuses portable (DAPs) and the DS2 used in operator spraydown (immediate decontamination) with a sorbent powder (Figure 13-11). The M100 SDS uses a reactive sorbent powder to remove and neutralize chemical agent from surfaces. Use of the M100 SDS decreases decontamination time and eliminates the need for water. Decontaminate key weapons with M100 SDS or slurry. After decontamination, disassemble weapons and wash, rinse, and oil them to prevent corrosion. Decontaminate ammunition with M100 SDS, wipe with gasoline soaked rags, and then dry it. If M100 SDS is unavailable, wash ammunition in cool, soapy water, then dry it thoroughly. Decontaminate optical instruments by blotting them with rags, wiping with lens cleaning solvent, and then letting them dry. Decontaminate communication equipment by airing, weathering, or hot air (if available). The M100 SDS includes–

  • Two 0.7 lb packs of reactive sorbent powder
  • Two wash mitt-type sorbent applicators
  • Case
  • Straps
  • Detailed instructions.
  • Chemical agent-resistant mounting bracket (optional).

Figure 13-9. Figure 13-10. Figure 13-11.
M291 skin M295 equipment M100 SORBENT
decontaminating kit. decontamination kit. Decontamination System.

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