Chemical-Biological Warfare

May 27, 1977

Report Outline
Disclosures About C-B Activity
Gas-Germ Warfare in History
Prospects for New Developments
Special Focus

Disclosures About C-B Activity

Miltary Alarm About Soviet Gas Buildup

The Idea of waging war with deadly gases and other exotic weapons concocted in the laboratory is repulsive to most Americans. Yet such chemical weapons have been an integral part of the U.S. defense program since World War II. However in 1969, following world criticism of this country's use of chemical herbicides and tear gas in Vietnam, the United States said it would henceforth use lethal and incapacitating chemical agents only if the enemy did first, and it renounced all methods of biological—germ—warfare. President Nixon ordered all existing biological warfare agents destroyed and biological research confined to defensive measures such as immunization. After the presidential edict, the military began scaling down its chemical warfare program.

Today the military is voicing concern about an apparent Soviet buildup of chemical weapons and is trying to improve its ability to wage chemical warfare. “The Soviet-Warsaw Pact forces continue to maintain a superior capability to operate in toxic environments,” Gen. George S. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in January. In presenting the Pentagon's annual “military posture” statement, he said: “They are the best equipped and prepared forces in the world to employ chemical weapons and to operate under chemical, biological and radiological warfare conditions…. The Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly support the improvement of our chemical munitions stockpile as an essential element in the necessary overall improvement of our ability to deter and, if necessary, fight in a toxic environment.”

In February, Edward A. Miller, Assistant Secretary of the Army for research and development, and Lt. Gen. Howard H. Cooksey, Deputy Chief of Staff for research and development and acquisition, said in a joint statement to the House Armed Services Committee: “The Soviets are so immersed in chemical weaponry, tactics, doctrine, equipment and personnel, and so much of their training centers around the use of lethal agents, that it would be odd, from a military standpoint, if they did not employ them [in a non-nuclear attack]. Their offensive chemical capability dwarfs ours to the point that they would be throwing away a possibly decisive advantage by not using chemical weapons. Our own offensive chemical weapon arsenal, while not puny, is at this point probably not a sufficient deterrent….” More recently, news dispatches from Brussels, military headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have reported that NATO troops in Europe were receiving gas-survival training.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jul. 29, 2016  Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Arms Control and Disarmament
International Law and Agreements