NATO’s Preparations for Chemical Warfare

  • Edward M. Spiers

Abstract

NATO has renounced the option of initiating the use of chemical weapons, a policy reflected in the adherence of all allies to the Geneva Protocol and reaffirmed by General Bernard Rogers, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.1 NATO seeks to deter recourse to such weapons by its strategy of flexible response (a flexible and balanced range of responses to all levels of aggression or threats of aggression). Within this overall deterrent the NATO allies make provision for anti-chemical protection, enabling personnel not merely to survive an attack but to operate as effectively as possible in a contaminated environment. The Alliance does not possess a chemical retaliatory capability, but the United States and France retain limited offensive chemical forces which could retaliate if NATO incurred a chemical attack. The adequacy of these provisions was brought into question by the revelations from the Yom Kippur War (1973), particularly the supply of comprehensive and highly sophisticated NBC protective equipment by the Soviet Union to Egypt and Syria. As the Soviet Union had apparently standardised these features on all its weapons, and so had had to include them on the equipment sent to Egypt and Syria, General Creighton W. Abrams concluded that the United States Army was ‘well behind’ its Soviet counterpart in its chemical warfare protection.2 How the United States and her allies in NATO have responded to these findings warrants review.

Keywords

Surfactant Europe Foam Steam Syria 

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Notes and References

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© Edward M. Spiers 1986

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