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Old 06-12-2011, 06:47 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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Default Chemical warfare

Latest file covering chemical warfare.
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File Type: pdf Chemical weapons 29-5-11.pdf (410.0 KB, 213 views)
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:34 AM
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Excellent work! I always look forward to your posts.
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Old 06-13-2011, 04:18 AM
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This is excellent. I like the MOP suits fatigue rule because it's nice and easy (I had a whole bunch of crap rules, this is nice because it ties back into a core game mechanic).

One question, a gas mask works for 24hrs. Is that continuous use or once "opened"?

Thanks.
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by leonpoi View Post
This is excellent. I like the MOP suits fatigue rule because it's nice and easy (I had a whole bunch of crap rules, this is nice because it ties back into a core game mechanic).

One question, a gas mask works for 24hrs. Is that continuous use or once "opened"?

Thanks.
Don't put your rules down, it's not the first draft of mine...

I believe the filters last 24 hours of use - less against certain agents. Can any CBRN expert help here?
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:15 PM
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Depends on the chemical agent used.

The M17A1 filters were rated for up to 24 hours in a contaiminated area with nerve gas. Blood agents rapidly eroded the filters, they were supposed to be good for no more than 4 hours and were to be replaced as soon as possible after exposure to a blood agent.

The general rule of thumb was to get out of the contaiminated area as soon as possible and regardless of agent used, replace the filters.

Tankers would carry an ALICE rucksack loaded with two spare MOPP suits, a spare pair of rubber gloves and booties and three spare sets of filters.
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:28 PM
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Depends on the chemical agent used.

The M17A1 filters were rated for up to 24 hours in a contaiminated area with nerve gas. Blood agents rapidly eroded the filters, they were supposed to be good for no more than 4 hours and were to be replaced as soon as possible after exposure to a blood agent.

The general rule of thumb was to get out of the contaiminated area as soon as possible and regardless of agent used, replace the filters.

Tankers would carry an ALICE rucksack loaded with two spare MOPP suits, a spare pair of rubber gloves and booties and three spare sets of filters.
Thanks, I'll change the text for the next for the next version to make it clearer.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:40 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Flipping through the old journal...

If you get hit with nerve agent, the antidote is atropine...and you have two minutes to apply the antidote to atropine, the 2PamChloride injector.

There is no antidote for blood agents...the running joke was the cure for a blood agent is the M-1911A1.

The sad thing is that if the Soviets had ever made the decision to go, their pre-war plans called for chemical strikes from the very beginning, ranging from persistant nerve gas on the REFORGER equipment stockpiles and airfields to the use of non-persistant nerve gas and blood agents on the frontline troops and along the autobahns and choke points. Along with the occasional tactical nuke on Pershing, Lance and land-based cruise missile sites.

I'm afraid that if World War Three had kicked off, there wouldn't have been any "controlled" use of nukes. It would have been tactical exchanges rapidly escalating to a strategic exchange.
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:42 PM
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And here is the Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) as used by the US military.

MOPP Level Zero: The protective mask, chemical protective helmet cover, skin decon kit and detector papers are carried in the mask carrier. The overgarment, overboots, and gloves are stowed nearby.

MOPP Level One: The overgarment is worn. M-9 detector paper is attached to the overgarment.

MOPP Level Two: The overboots are worn.

MOPP Level Three: The protective mask and chemical protective helmet cover are worn.

MOPP Level Four: The rubber gloves and cotton liners are worn.

MOPP Level Five: Not an offical level, but was often seen added to the training flyer next to the NBC room. MOPP Level Five is the famous Bend Over and Kiss Your Arse Goodbye Level.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by James Langham View Post
Don't put your rules down, it's not the first draft of mine...

I believe the filters last 24 hours of use - less against certain agents. Can any CBRN expert help here?
True enough I suppose .

Again thanks for the rules, I like them and I'm getting ready to implement some chemical warefare into my bag of nastiness.

24h life as a simple guidline is good enough for me.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:06 PM
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Slightly expanded (with more quotes and a bit more history). I've also clarified the life of filters as above.
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File Type: pdf Chemical weapons 7-7-11.pdf (257.0 KB, 154 views)
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:47 PM
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When I was in, they told us in Basic that "officially" the filters and MOPP Suit were good in a chemical environment for 24 hours. However, during a break, one of the NBC Instructors told us that what troops are generally not told is that the MOPP suit should be replaced as soon as possible after any chemical attack and became ineffective as little as two hours after a blood agent attack and four after a nerve agent attack. The filters in the mask might help you as little as a half an hour after a nerve agent attack and were essentially useless against a blood agent. And most nerve and blood agents worked so quickly that if you didn't already have your mask and suit on when the gas popped, you were as good as dead anyway -- atropine and 2PAM chloride weren't really very effective as antidotes. Contaminated vehicles and gear were very difficult to clean agents off of to make them useful again. He thought that the only good way to deal with chemical agents was to attack and destroy the enemy NBC units before they could pop anything.

I at first thought that the instructor was simply messing with trainees' heads, but I continued to hear such rumors throughout the time I was in the Army.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:10 PM
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I hit the PCs in a game I was running a decade or more ago with blood agent. The survivors never took their chem suits off ever again...
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:21 PM
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basicly. the only reliable and readily available cure for chemical or biological attacks is the NATO standard M855 Ball round. (won't save ya but it stops the suffering)
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Old 06-03-2012, 06:14 PM
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Quote from a website about little-known airfields around the world. In this case, Johnston Atoll, roughly 800 miles west of Hawaii.

"Chemical weapons have been stored on Johnston Island since 1971. In 1993, Congress zero-funded the Johnston Atoll Safeguard C mission
and defined the military mission as storage & destruction of chemical weapons. Since 1990, an extensive operation on Johnston Island has performed the deactivation & destruction of 400,000 rockets, bombs, projectiles, mortars, and mines containing chemical weapons. The last of the chemical stockpile was destroyed in 2000."

No doubt the destruction operations would have been halted when the Soviets and Chinese decided to start the dance.

Gee, how'd you like to wind up there, with insufficient forces to defend the materials, and no easy way of getting off the island? Or, leading a raid on the facility to get combat-leveraging weaponry in your arsenal?
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:16 PM
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The most effective defense against chemical agents is a robust offensive capability. Yes, the troops exposed when everyone starts using chemical agents are going to be hurting. We won’t even cover civilian casualties. But once the side that originates use gets a taste, their enthusiasm for chemical warfare should diminish very significantly very rapidly.

One wonders if the Soviets have a go at chemical warfare in the DDR in response to the invasion by the Bundeswehr.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:14 AM
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Almost certainly IMO.
Offensively they're probably not quite as useful as defensively though - nobody likes to attack into a contaminated area.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:29 PM
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Almost certainly IMO.
Offensively they're probably not quite as useful as defensively though - nobody likes to attack into a contaminated area.
Historically the main use has actually been offensive - non-persistent chemicals that have hopefully dispersed before you reach there.

The biggest constraint against Pact use would be the response from the remainder of the Warsaw Pact (from memory this is what happens in Red Storm Rising).
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Old 06-05-2012, 04:20 PM
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Another very nice product, James.

How much Soviet use of chemical weapons in Europe would be influenced by Warsaw Pact opinion is an interesting question.

I think a few points deserve further expansion and/or mitigation.

Chemical weapons play an offensive and defensive role. As Leg has pointed out, persistent agents are effective for area denial. Combined with surface-laid mines, persistent agents can be very effective indeed at preventing access. Offensively, the preferred agents are fast-acting and have a short lifespan. For this reason, nerve agents are popular offensive agents. However, persistent agents are useful in offensive operations against fixed targets like airfields, ports, and rail yards. Defensively, persistent agents are the preferred option.

The big problem with chemical agents is that they function much like nuclear weapons. Once they are used, there is an overpowering logic to using them every bit as much as the enemy, if not a bit more so. From a military standpoint, chemical weapons promise to slow operations to a crawl as everyone struggles to adapt to contaminated environments and working in protective gear. Casualties among troops will be very great. Casualties among civilians will be stupendous—especially when chemical use moves from tactical to operational to strategic use.

China will answer a lot of questions about chemical use. I think there’s a very good chance that after the drawbacks of chemical use become a bit more apparent both sides will find foreswearing their use desirable. If China suffers a million casualties from chemical use, James, we can bet that they will find some means of retaliating. The use of theater ballistic missiles to deliver persistent agents against communications hubs inside the eastern Soviet Union probably will cause the Soviets to give serious consideration as to whether chemicals are worth using. Fairly quickly, use will escalate to the point at which the use of chemical weapons probably resembles the use of incendiaries in strategic bombing by the Western Allies in WW2: the logic will be that denying the enemy the use of transportation, power generation, and factories by means of persistent agents is a natural development from the use of persistent agents to shut down communications hubs, chokepoints (like bridges and mountain passes), airfields, and supply dumps closer to the front. Both sides will ramp up use quite rapidly until someone cries uncle internally. At that point, threats of nuclear use probably will be aired. The Soviets might suffer fewer casualties in this scenario, but their more restricted supply lines are quite vulnerable to disruption by a relative handful of successful employments of persistent agents. Being on the offensive, the Soviets are going to need an uninterrupted flow of supplies more than the Chinese. I would expect that by the time Operation Red Willow (the main Chinese counteroffensive in 1995) kicks off, both sides would have foresworn further chemical use out of sheer necessity.

In Europe, the lessons of the chemical campaign in China are going to be hard to ignore. The Soviets probably will have a go at their use during the initial West German invasion. The US will promptly supply the West Germans with counter-balancing weapons, and the logic of non-use will rear its ugly head.

Getting back to James’ observation about Warsaw Pact opinion regarding chemical use, the front-line states of Poland and Czechoslovakia would have an interesting position. The Soviets would be highly inclined to ignore their “allies’” opinions regarding chemical use. On the other hand, the Poles and Czechoslovaks would be keenly aware of the effects of chemical warfare on military and civilian personnel alike. It would be very hard to believe that an escalation of chemical warfare to operational and strategic levels would not involve large quantities of persistent agents used against roads, rail, and air hubs in Poland and Czechoslovakia. This might appear to be so detrimental to the Poles and Czechoslovaks that they would threaten the Soviets with withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets, already badly pressed in China and the DDR, would be much more inclined to acquiesce than we might otherwise consider them to be.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:46 PM
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China will answer a lot of questions about chemical use. I think there’s a very good chance that after the drawbacks of chemical use become a bit more apparent both sides will find foreswearing their use desirable. If China suffers a million casualties from chemical use, James, we can bet that they will find some means of retaliating. The use of theater ballistic missiles to deliver persistent agents against communications hubs inside the eastern Soviet Union probably will cause the Soviets to give serious consideration as to whether chemicals are worth using. Fairly quickly, use will escalate to the point at which the use of chemical weapons probably resembles the use of incendiaries in strategic bombing by the Western Allies in WW2: the logic will be that denying the enemy the use of transportation, power generation, and factories by means of persistent agents is a natural development from the use of persistent agents to shut down communications hubs, chokepoints (like bridges and mountain passes), airfields, and supply dumps closer to the front. Both sides will ramp up use quite rapidly until someone cries uncle internally. At that point, threats of nuclear use probably will be aired. The Soviets might suffer fewer casualties in this scenario, but their more restricted supply lines are quite vulnerable to disruption by a relative handful of successful employments of persistent agents. Being on the offensive, the Soviets are going to need an uninterrupted flow of supplies more than the Chinese. I would expect that by the time Operation Red Willow (the main Chinese counteroffensive in 1995) kicks off, both sides would have foresworn further chemical use out of sheer necessity.
With all due respect Web, but the use of chemicals as an "equalizer" to Chinese numerical superiority is just going to be too much for the Soviets to pass up. Plus, their chemical arsenal is going to be a lot more advanced than anything the Chinese have. And, if the Soviets start going after the means of production for the Chinese chemical arsenal during Tchaikovsky, as well as fairly indiscriminate use of persistent nerve agent against Chinese cities in general, yes, the Chinese will retaliate, but considering the Soviet theater ABM capability, I don't think that the Chinese retaliation will be much more effective than their retaliation during the later nuclear exchange is. In fact, what's to say the launch of TBM by the Chinese doesn't spark a panic by the Soviets that a nuclear weapon has just been released?

I think tactical use tit for tat is far more likely, or perhaps long range artillery being used in much the same manner as you describe. Now there's a lot of argument over how READY the Soviets were to fight with chemicals. Zaloga said one thing, the Army said another. Depends on who you believe. I think the truth is probably in the middle.

One related note, how many of Alibek's creations get unleashed on China during Tchaikovsky? Remember the Japanese had no such compunctions in the 30s, and I am sure the Soviets would do anything to thin out the near-inexhaustible Chinese manpower reserves. Yes, it's genocide, and morally indefensible. But the Soviet Union is at war for what could be its life. The Soviets, short of nukes (which will bring the West in, and then we all lose), will use whatever they have to. So I think limited and most importantly, deniable use of biological weapons is on the table.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:30 PM
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I am reminded of the Bill Mauldin comic where Willie and Joe come across a miles-long heap of discarded CW protective gear.

"I see B comp'ny got them new gas masks."
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:44 AM
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Jason, I want to get back to you promptly. A proper reply takes some time, though.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:42 PM
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A few semi-random thoughts:

* Use in the west by the Soviets and NATO retaliation might be one of the reasons why the Poles are more pro-NATO than I would expect (as they blame the Soviets). Maybe they used them as they were being pushed back through Poland.

* NATO suits are disposable types while the Soviets rubber suits are designed to be decontaminated and reused. How long could supplies of NATO suits be maintained?

* Use against Turkey might be a starting point in Europe, waiting to see if NATO (in particular the US) reacts.

* Use could be triggered by a hit on a stockpile that sets of the chemical sensors.

* New America with chemical weapons is something that hasn't been explored yet.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:31 PM
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* New America with chemical weapons is something that hasn't been explored yet.
You're a bad, bad man, James. I like the way you think, even as I am filled with horror.
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:30 AM
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You're a bad, bad man, James. I like the way you think, even as I am filled with horror.
I am pessimistic, that way I can be pleasantly surprised...
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:46 PM
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It’s been a week since I wrote a word in reply to you, Jason. I’m going to knock out something rough and dirty rather than continue to try to give a polished product that might never get finished.

Okay, so the bottom line is that I think chemical warfare in the Far East as I outlined it in my piece on the Sino-Soviet War could stand an update. I don’t agree that Chinese attempts at chemical retaliation are going to go the way of the nuclear attacks for a couple of reasons. I stick to my thesis that general chemical use will enter abeyance; however, I acknowledge that you’ve got a point about the temptations of use. I now believe that chemical warfare will be highly punctuated. I maintain that the lessons learned in the Far East will result in a dramatic lessening of chemical use in Europe until the nukes start to fly.

The attitude of the Soviets towards the Sino-Soviet War matters a lot. This is not a war of national survival for them in 1995. In 1996, the regime might be feeling a bit more pressure. But in 1995, chemical use will be in keeping with battlefield necessities. They aren’t out to kill millions of Chinese. They aren’t out to topple the regime, though obviously that might be beneficial side effect if it could be done without widening the war or risking a strategic exchange of WMD. The Soviets are in the game to put the Chinese in their place and reassert themselves as the other superpower such that Soviet prestige recovers from Operation Desert Storm and Soviet weapons—especially aircraft, air defense systems, and MBT—reclaim their place on the international market.

So we should expect to see non-persistent agents used to prepare Chinese defenses for Soviet breakthroughs, while persistent agents are used for area denial on vulnerable Soviet flanks, Chinese supply dumps and depots, and PLAAF bases near the front. Of course, the Chinese are going to retaliate as best they can. The simplest form of retaliation is the application of persistent agents right where the Soviets are going to break through. Blood agents could act as Chinese FASCAM. Naturally, the Soviets would motor through these as required to maintain the impetus of the advance. Pretty soon, though, the already-taxed Soviet supply system is going to be hard-pressed to meet the needs of soldiers continually exposed to persistent agents. If the Chinese combine persistent agents with well-placed blocking or canalizing minefields tied into good defensive terrain, the Soviets are going to have real problems. Either the Soviets will have to slow the tempo of advance or find a way around the chemical weapons problem.

One solution would be to up the ante of chemical use in the hopes that saturation of the Chinese would forestall defensive use by the Chinese. This approach is problematic. How much does one have to up the ante to prevent the Chinese from using chemical weapons? I really don’t know the answer, but I bet the term “profligate” probably would apply to the level of use required. There are two drawbacks with going this route. The first is that at a certain point the Chinese are going to a) use chemical weapons against Soviet population centers to even out the casualties and b) be sorely tempted to go nuclear—because, after all, at a certain point the loss of life on the Chinese side starts to look a lot like a nuclear exchange. The Soviets aren’t in this game to go nuclear. If they were, they’d have started off with nuclear use.

The other problem is Western perception. Here I refer to my own work, which one is free to accept or ignore. The Soviets have worked hard to mend fences with the West. Win or lose in the Far East, profligate chemical use will have a negative effect on relations. Worse, profligate chemical use will have an unforeseeable affect on Western support for the PRC. Therefore, the costs of profligate use might outweigh the benefits long after the battlefield matter has been settled.

Ballistic delivery of chemicals by the Chinese poses a separate problem for the Soviets. The v1 chronology notes that Chinese ballistic missile attacks are frustrated by an active an efficient ABM system. Whatever ABM system the Soviets have in place in 1997 is going to be oriented towards defending Soviet Europe. That’s where the population centers are. This isn’t to say that there won’t be some sort of ABM system east of the Urals. Such a system will not have the lion’s share of capability—whatever that capability is. If the Chinese are pushed by Soviet chemical use to reply in kind against Soviet logistical hubs in the rear, then the Soviets have hard decisions to make. Let’s imagine that the Soviets use theater ABM to intercept a single Chinese TBM (theater ballistic missile) en route to a hub on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. This tips their hand and invites the Chinese to try a saturation attack with TBM. The results cannot help but give the Chinese a much clearer picture of what is required to get WMD on-target in-theater. This is dangerous for the Soviets.

The simplest solution simply might be to come to an agreement about chemical use. Once the Soviets stop believing that they are deriving an advantage from chemical use, they’ll want to stop. The Chinese will be motivated to stop using chemical weapons because they will want to spare their own troops, populace, and landscape.

The beginning of Operation Red Willow might very well see a Soviet resumption. If ORW achieves operational surprise and early success, the Soviets might be startled into resuming use of chemical weapons. Under these conditions, we might expect to see them using persistent agents against communications hubs, which would mean using them against population centers. Here, Western opinion again would be aggravated. By this time, China has been borrowing as rapidly as possible. The US can’t afford for China to go down and not pay her debts. Therefore, the US might be strongly tempted to provide offensive and defensive chemical warfare materiel to China. Perhaps such an offer even might include cruise missiles (refitted for export) that can deliver chemical agents (or nuclear warheads) under the Soviet ABM shield. And again, the Chinese would be sorely tempted to retaliate against Soviet targets they can reach, like Vladivostok. If 10% of the Chinese TBM get through, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Chinese to cause major casualties. And again, this isn’t yet a fight to the death for the Soviets. They are still looking to win a limited conventional war.

It’s possible that the Soviets would open the 1996 offensive with chemical weapons. However, by this point we should expect that the lessons from 1995 would have been absorbed. The Chinese would be ready to lay down barriers of persistent agents in as much depth as required to bring breakthroughs to a halt. They already will have had all winter to prepare defenses. I question the math behind further chemical use on the battlefield or behind the lines, given that the Soviets are looking for rapid breakthroughs to bring the campaign to a rapid conclusion.

Of course, all bets are off once the nukes start flying.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:49 PM
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It’s been a week since I wrote a word in reply to you, Jason. I’m going to knock out something rough and dirty rather than continue to try to give a polished product that might never get finished.
Appreciate you putting the effort in regardless.

Quote:
Okay, so the bottom line is that I think chemical warfare in the Far East as I outlined it in my piece on the Sino-Soviet War could stand an update. I don’t agree that Chinese attempts at chemical retaliation are going to go the way of the nuclear attacks for a couple of reasons. I stick to my thesis that general chemical use will enter abeyance; however, I acknowledge that you’ve got a point about the temptations of use. I now believe that chemical warfare will be highly punctuated. I maintain that the lessons learned in the Far East will result in a dramatic lessening of chemical use in Europe until the nukes start to fly.
I can agree here, and I think you have a point about the law of diminishing returns.

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The attitude of the Soviets towards the Sino-Soviet War matters a lot. This is not a war of national survival for them in 1995. In 1996, the regime might be feeling a bit more pressure. But in 1995, chemical use will be in keeping with battlefield necessities. They aren’t out to kill millions of Chinese. They aren’t out to topple the regime, though obviously that might be beneficial side effect if it could be done without widening the war or risking a strategic exchange of WMD. The Soviets are in the game to put the Chinese in their place and reassert themselves as the other superpower such that Soviet prestige recovers from Operation Desert Storm and Soviet weapons—especially aircraft, air defense systems, and MBT—reclaim their place on the international market.
See and that's the problem with the entire Soviet war effort. It's a war in search of a war aim? How do you put the Chinese "in their place"? They're not going to meekly acknowledge the Soviet superiority, especially after Red Willow. So, I think pre-Red Willow, you can make this murky argument (not your fault, it's the kind of thin thinking that got the Soviets into RL trouble in Afghanistan). But after? If the Soviets make peace, the Politboro may wind up like Beria. If the Chinese make peace, their own Politboro might wind up the victim of a military coup or a popular uprising. Both sides are riding the tiger from the start, and neither can afford to get off.

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So we should expect to see non-persistent agents used to prepare Chinese defenses for Soviet breakthroughs, while persistent agents are used for area denial on vulnerable Soviet flanks, Chinese supply dumps and depots, and PLAAF bases near the front. Of course, the Chinese are going to retaliate as best they can. The simplest form of retaliation is the application of persistent agents right where the Soviets are going to break through. Blood agents could act as Chinese FASCAM. Naturally, the Soviets would motor through these as required to maintain the impetus of the advance. Pretty soon, though, the already-taxed Soviet supply system is going to be hard-pressed to meet the needs of soldiers continually exposed to persistent agents. If the Chinese combine persistent agents with well-placed blocking or canalizing minefields tied into good defensive terrain, the Soviets are going to have real problems. Either the Soviets will have to slow the tempo of advance or find a way around the chemical weapons problem.
True, but what level of casualties do the Soviets begin to consider troublesome under these circumstances?

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One solution would be to up the ante of chemical use in the hopes that saturation of the Chinese would forestall defensive use by the Chinese. This approach is problematic. How much does one have to up the ante to prevent the Chinese from using chemical weapons? I really don’t know the answer, but I bet the term “profligate” probably would apply to the level of use required. There are two drawbacks with going this route. The first is that at a certain point the Chinese are going to a) use chemical weapons against Soviet population centers to even out the casualties and b) be sorely tempted to go nuclear—because, after all, at a certain point the loss of life on the Chinese side starts to look a lot like a nuclear exchange. The Soviets aren’t in this game to go nuclear. If they were, they’d have started off with nuclear use.
More than agree here, I think the threshold for Chinese nuclear use would be unrestricted use of chemical and biological weapons against Chinese urban centers.

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The other problem is Western perception. Here I refer to my own work, which one is free to accept or ignore. The Soviets have worked hard to mend fences with the West. Win or lose in the Far East, profligate chemical use will have a negative effect on relations. Worse, profligate chemical use will have an unforeseeable affect on Western support for the PRC. Therefore, the costs of profligate use might outweigh the benefits long after the battlefield matter has been settled.
Yes, Danilov's charm offensive will need to pay attention, but Sauronski is running the Ministry of Defense, short of nuclear release, there is a lot of shenanigans he could pull. And he might have a point:

"Comrade General Secretary, we should worry what the capitalists think of what we're doing in China? The same capitalists who arm the Chinese to kill our boys?"

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Ballistic delivery of chemicals by the Chinese poses a separate problem for the Soviets. The v1 chronology notes that Chinese ballistic missile attacks are frustrated by an active an efficient ABM system. Whatever ABM system the Soviets have in place in 1997 is going to be oriented towards defending Soviet Europe. That’s where the population centers are. This isn’t to say that there won’t be some sort of ABM system east of the Urals. Such a system will not have the lion’s share of capability—whatever that capability is. If the Chinese are pushed by Soviet chemical use to reply in kind against Soviet logistical hubs in the rear, then the Soviets have hard decisions to make. Let’s imagine that the Soviets use theater ABM to intercept a single Chinese TBM (theater ballistic missile) en route to a hub on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. This tips their hand and invites the Chinese to try a saturation attack with TBM. The results cannot help but give the Chinese a much clearer picture of what is required to get WMD on-target in-theater. This is dangerous for the Soviets.

The simplest solution simply might be to come to an agreement about chemical use. Once the Soviets stop believing that they are deriving an advantage from chemical use, they’ll want to stop. The Chinese will be motivated to stop using chemical weapons because they will want to spare their own troops, populace, and landscape.

The beginning of Operation Red Willow might very well see a Soviet resumption. If ORW achieves operational surprise and early success, the Soviets might be startled into resuming use of chemical weapons. Under these conditions, we might expect to see them using persistent agents against communications hubs, which would mean using them against population centers. Here, Western opinion again would be aggravated. By this time, China has been borrowing as rapidly as possible. The US can’t afford for China to go down and not pay her debts. Therefore, the US might be strongly tempted to provide offensive and defensive chemical warfare materiel to China. Perhaps such an offer even might include cruise missiles (refitted for export) that can deliver chemical agents (or nuclear warheads) under the Soviet ABM shield. And again, the Chinese would be sorely tempted to retaliate against Soviet targets they can reach, like Vladivostok. If 10% of the Chinese TBM get through, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Chinese to cause major casualties. And again, this isn’t yet a fight to the death for the Soviets. They are still looking to win a limited conventional war.

It’s possible that the Soviets would open the 1996 offensive with chemical weapons. However, by this point we should expect that the lessons from 1995 would have been absorbed. The Chinese would be ready to lay down barriers of persistent agents in as much depth as required to bring breakthroughs to a halt. They already will have had all winter to prepare defenses. I question the math behind further chemical use on the battlefield or behind the lines, given that the Soviets are looking for rapid breakthroughs to bring the campaign to a rapid conclusion.

Of course, all bets are off once the nukes start flying.
Could be, and I suspect that very action had a role in halting the 1996 offensive. You have a good point on further chem use, as the Chinese stocks may be depleted (native stocks not coming from bombed out factories and US stocks being diverted to Europe) and the Soviets not getting more chemical weapons (diversion of most of their stocks to Europe). And yeah, I agree with you on the nukes part, but there may not be a whole lot of chemical weapons left in theater once the nukes do begin to fly, so the point may be moot.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:07 PM
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See and that's the problem with the entire Soviet war effort. It's a war in search of a war aim? How do you put the Chinese "in their place"? They're not going to meekly acknowledge the Soviet superiority, especially after Red Willow. So, I think pre-Red Willow, you can make this murky argument (not your fault, it's the kind of thin thinking that got the Soviets into RL trouble in Afghanistan). But after? If the Soviets make peace, the Politboro may wind up like Beria. If the Chinese make peace, their own Politboro might wind up the victim of a military coup or a popular uprising. Both sides are riding the tiger from the start, and neither can afford to get off.
Too true. I have postulated that the Soviets created a stop line that would encompass all of Manchuria and Beijing. They pick this stop line in line with the belief that China can be driven the bargaining table and settle on terms for peace that are favorable to the Soviets. I’ve also postulated that there is no Plan B in case the Politburo doesn’t come to the table in the event of the fall of Beijing. Of course, the fall of Beijing might have resulted in the failure of the Chinese regime; but there is no guarantee that a replacement regime would be willing to come to the table, much less settle for peace on Soviet terms. I agree that Operation Red Willow does recast the situation dramatically.

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True, but what level of casualties do the Soviets begin to consider troublesome under these circumstances?
That’s good question. Knowing the answer would mean reading the thoughts of men who are dramatically unlike any of us posting here. The best I can say is that the operations staff at each major command (division and higher?) would be encouraged to give their best assessment about the impact of chemical weapons on operations. At some point, the effects of ongoing chemical use will be more detrimental than beneficial as regards operational tempo, estimated exchange rate, or logistical effort. I’m inclined to think that in the first eight weeks of the offensive, the Soviets would be most concerned with the operational tempo. The assessments of the division and corps staffs would be compiled at the respective army headquarters, who would pass them on to the front headquarters. I believe that at some point in the first eight weeks, the front commanders are going to tell the Far Eastern TVD commander that ongoing chemical use is costing them forward momentum, on balance.

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Yes, Danilov's charm offensive will need to pay attention, but Sauronski is running the Ministry of Defense, short of nuclear release, there is a lot of shenanigans he could pull. And he might have a point:

"Comrade General Secretary, we should worry what the capitalists think of what we're doing in China? The same capitalists who arm the Chinese to kill our boys?"
That makes me smile. I do believe you’ve captured Sauronski’s spirit. Danilov might well reply that without Western grain, the regime is going to have to choose between further privatization of Soviet agriculture, famine, or revolution.

The Minister of Agriculture might point out: “Comrades, you realize that the capitalists are playing both sides in this game. They sell us their grain, making the excuse for their profiteering by claiming that they bear no ill will towards the Soviet people and do not wish to see the people starve. They supply China with weapons and food to help them repel foreign aggression. We may be fighting China, but the Americans are winning the war.”

Finance Minister: “The same situation offers us an opportunity to hurt both our rivals. China has borrowed extraordinary sums from the West—especially the United States. If we can push China to the point at which the government changes hands, we can score a double victory. We can fix the terms of peace with China. A new government may default on the Western loans. This will have devastating effects on the economies of the capitalists. We will be able to buy grain at better terms, and their ability to make war will be appreciably diminished. Who can say what opportunities that may open up?”

Murmurings of assent went round the table.

Danilov snorted. “Who here thinks the Americans don’t understand the financial position at least as well as we do? No doubt they have legions of bankers and financiers lined up inside the White House and the Capitol telling the President and Congress that the West cannot afford to let China default on its debt. We already know that weapons and ammunition are on their way. Since we have never intended to occupy all of China, we can’t keep them from using and copying whatever they get from the West. If I have to choose what the Americans are willing to sell China, I’d prefer it be tanks and guns over chemical weapons technology and ballistic missiles.”

Danilov turned his gaze on Sauronski. “Ivan Sergeyovich, did you not support the first chemical cease-fire because chemical weapons were slowing our progress? Why support their use now, when we are on the defensive? We won’t reach our goals any more quickly, and we inspire the Chinese to improve their own arsenal. Once we stabilize the lines, we’ll have to rebuild to finish this damned business next spring. Our troops can’t swim through a sea of blood agents between the front line and Beijing. Every use at this point jeopardizes our next offensive.”

Raising one eyebrow, Sauronski said, “So, Comrade, you are committed to a spring offensive?”

“What choice do we have, Ivan Sergeyovich? We can’t make peace with nothing to show for it.”

“Very good, Comrade. In that case, will you meet with some of my generals and admirals regarding a plan I asked them to submit regarding strategic operations to be carried out throughout the winter? In the event that we had to suspend operations through the winter?”

Danilov expression soured. “I suppose we had better.”
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:23 AM
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My limited understanding says chemical weapons are usually disposed of by incineration. If so, how would this effect the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield? Could there be an increased use in flame type weapons in areas persistent agents have been used in an effort to minimise their effects? I'm not talking simple flame throwers and the like, but large scale weapons such as FAE/thermobaric bombs and missiles.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:34 AM
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My limited understanding says chemical weapons are usually disposed of by incineration. If so, how would this effect the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield? Could there be an increased use in flame type weapons in areas persistent agents have been used in an effort to minimise their effects? I'm not talking simple flame throwers and the like, but large scale weapons such as FAE/thermobaric bombs and missiles.
This is a perfectly valid question. If there is any promise to the idea, the Soviets surely will try it as a means to open a corridor through Chinese defensive barriers of persistent agents.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:33 PM
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_Any_ promise, not even good data. These are the people that decided nuclear weapons are a good way to shut down out of control oil wells.

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This is a perfectly valid question. If there is any promise to the idea, the Soviets surely will try it as a means to open a corridor through Chinese defensive barriers of persistent agents.
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