November 1990 (vol. 7, #1) 1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1991 J Orient


How many weapons of mass destruction would it take to destroy the American military?

It depends on a number of factors: the yield of the weapons used; the circular error probable of the delivery system; the concentration or dispersal of the forces; and defensive capabilities for interdicting the threat and protecting personnel and equipment.

The threat posed by the Soviet first-strike nuclear arsenal is perceived to have evaporated overnight, although the hardware remains intact. No other force or combination of forces in today's world could conceivably disarm the American military on American soil. Is there any reason for a nuclear superpower to feel insecure because of Saddam Hussein, who won't have nuclear weapons for two to five years?

There are historical precedents for the instantaneous loss of the stronger army (e.g. Deut 11:4 and Jud 4:7). The prerequisite was to trap the army in a small area.

Soon, 400,000 American troops will be in the Middle East. With them will be more than half of our most sophisticated aircraft. They will be within range of several types of weapons of mass destruction.

The Chemical Threat

According to US intelligence sources, Iraqi forces invading Kuwait carried chemical weapons, mostly in the form of artillery shells. Satellite photographs showed special troops unloading the weapons from stockpiles during the buildup of forces preceding the invasion. Decontamination equipment was moved into Kuwait (CWCB, Sept 1990).

Producers are scrambling to meet the demand for protective gear. But what type of equipment are they making?

After spending over $100 million to develop respirators (cf. the $6 to $8 million required to develop the British S-10 respirator), the US Army continues to rely heavily on the 40-year old M-17 model, which fails to meet basic NATO standards. The improved newer models are still said to be a ``disastrous combination of poorly conceived and executed technology.'' For example, the MCU-2P requires an attached rubber-coated hood to offer even minimum protection, and the hood contributes greatly to heat stress. US allies, such as Israel, find US respirators and hoods unacceptable.

For eight years, scientists at a defense research establishment in the Netherlands have been demonstrating the effect of dropping chemical agents on standard US Army protective clothing: they splash right through. According to Evan Koslow, former editor of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense and Technology, there is no deployed NBC protective uniform in the free world that fails this test, except in the US (Armed Forces Journal International, May, 1990).

US protective garments are made of permeable fabric with a lining of activated charcoal. Other nations manufacture garments of impermeable material as well. The rationale for the US choice of gear is to minimize heat stress. However, a soldier still cannot work in the suits for longer than half an hour in desert sunlit conditions. External evaporative cooling like that used with Soviet equipment can, under some conditions, extend endurance to two hours, but would inactivate the charcoal in American suits.

All currently available protective equipment could be defeated by the use of new agents, for example perfluoroisobutylene (PFIB). PFIB penetrates conventional activated carbon, the universal NBC air-filtering agent. Such agents would seep through treaties also, since these cover only substances currently believed to be useful for chemical warfare (ibid.)

There is considerable ongoing work on problems of chemical protection, much of it classified.

The threat of chemical weapons delivered by Iraqi ballistic missiles has led some of the harshest critics of strategic defense (even Sen. Edward Kennedy) to acknowledge the possible benefits of a ``theater missile defense.'' However, the Extended Range Intercept Technology (ERINT) has suffered in the budget cuts. The first flight tests are set for 1992.

Fuel-Air Explosives

Rumors that Iraq might have the near-equivalent of nuclear weapons refer to fuel-air explosives (FAE). With the proper type of detonator, an explosion of a fuel-air mixture can produce an overpressure of 300 psi. Within the detonation cloud, blast shelters can be damaged and their occupants killed. Iraq may have had access to FAE technology from West Germany or the Soviet Union.

While some authorities say there is no defense against FAE weapons, an expedient defense actually has been demonstrated in tests conducted at White Sands missile range and elsewhere. The principle is to ignite the gas and cause a deflagration before the fuel-air mixture can be detonated. (This would still be very destructive, but would not harm persons in properly constructed shelters.) One needs a method of detecting the expanding cloud and triggering a very hot ignition point (e.g. one produced by a fuse made of a powder train of black powder). Many different devices are conceivable. An 18-inch dead tumbleweed tied with a string to the wire handle of a fuse lighter has been used with some success.

Are the Iraqis the Only Threat?

Although Secretary of State Jim Baker has stated that ``the Soviet Union has proven a responsible partner, suggesting new possibilities for active superpower cooperation in resolving regional conflicts'' (ROA National Security Report 10/90), the resolution conceivably could be different from the one he envisions (see p. 2). What if one superpower could be eliminated from the equation?


A Second Front?

In the celebrations of a ``new world order,'' there are a few discordant notes. Could the second front in the Persian Gulf create a ``new correlation of forces,'' offering the Soviet security apparatus the opportunity to save the Communist Revolution? Mark Helprin suggested this possibility a week after a deputy of the Soviet parliament arose to ask why military readiness was being generally augmented and why four divisions and two regiments of paratroopers had appeared in Moscow. Would they be harvesting potatoes in flak jackets Wall St J 10/2/90)?

Some random notes from Moscow News:

From an article entitled ``Military Coup in the USSR'' by Andrei Nuikin, 9/23-30/90:

...the army has a plan for taking control of the country, region by region, beginning with the Soviet Far East....The main danger is that these prepara-tions aren't per se illegal. This is simply the proce-dure provided by the Constitution for introducing the state of emergency....

The top bosses from the Defence Ministry, the General Staff, the Main Political Department, the KGB, the MVD, and the Procurator's Office...can't wait to go back to old practices. As for ending parliaments, one company of paratroopers could do it [emphasis added]....

Uninhibited perestroika reports are banned in the army, all political discussions are based on lines approved decades ago....There are lots of exercises. We know what they mean from experience. The men don't sleep for a week, two weeks or three weeks, eating inferior food. They are irritated, angry, and aggressive. If an exercise involves shooting, everyone carries full sets of live ammunition. Thus troops can easily be employed to achieve certain political objectives....

There is a cruel purging of the democratic elements among officers....

While applauding the call for joint action by the US and the Soviet Union against Saddam Hussein, Alexie Alexandrov stated that ``the basis upon which the USSR's relations with Iraq were built remains inviolable.'' The 1972 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Iraq includes a provision for mutual defense. Even during the Iran-Iraq war, ``the river of Soviet arms to Iraq did not stop.''

About 50,000 soldiers from the East German army are about to enter the ranks of 350,000 unemployed. Said one officer: ``I'm a professional military man and I've not learned anything else in my life....Before I'm tossed out in the street, I'll try to find work in one of the Middle Eastern armies. Naturally, not with Iraq.''


Pearl Harbor Day Meeting

The annual commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day by Arizona members of DDP will be held December 7 at 7:30 p.m., 3615 E. Fifth St. The video tour of a mobile steel blast shelter, produced by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, will be shown.


A Choice for Students

The National Education Association, responding to ``re-search'' that purports to show that students are being crippled by nuclear anxiety (see Commentary 11/90), has promoted a curriculum called Choices. Like other so-called pro-choice programs, the curriculum actually demands accep-tance of:

a. the only answer,

which in the case of nuclear war means choosing death in preference to shelter and Brilliant Pebbles.

For students who would like to explore the other options, be sure your library has a copy of The One-Minute Diplomat by Frances- Shands, Ph.D., of St. Louis University (see enclosed flyer), as well as Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson Kearny (new, updated printing available from OISM for $12.50, PO Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523).


The Warhead: Target Ratio and Other Details

The agreements-in-principle reached in and around the Washington summit of 1990 make sense only if one assumes that the party with which they were made is totally benevolent and would not dream of cheating or of using the situation created by the agreements to win a war.
Angelo Codevilla, Global Affairs, summer/fall 1990

In the draft START agreement, the Soviets have committed themselves to reducing their force of heavy missiles from 308 SS-18s to 154 SS-26s. (The latter has been hastily rebaptized the SS-18 Mod. 5 for cosmetic reasons-the accord bans new types of ICBMs.) How many warheads (lighter, more ac-curate, and more lethal warheads) can the SS-26 SS-18 Mod. 5 carry? Codevilla guesses 28; only the Soviets know for sure. (The SS-18 carries 14.)

Obligingly, the US has agreed to reduce its number of strategic targets.

The bottom line is that the May accords will nearly double the Soviet counterforce warhead-to-American strategic target ratio (now 3.5 to 1).

According to Codevilla, the Pons Asinorum of the agree-ment concerns chemical weapons. The US will effectively cancel its binary munitions program and reduce its stocks to 5,000 tons. The Soviets promise to reduce to 5,000 tons when and if we help them dispose of the lethal material. US intelligence has already decreased its estimate of the size of the Soviet stockpile from 300,000 to 50,000 tons. (The Soviet Union is thus already 85% of the way to the goal, while the US lags behind due to delays at the Johnston Island in-cinerator.) The agree-ment will allow verification of how much has been destroyed-but not of how much is left.

Now that the political roof has fallen in on the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union has done an about-face on a 16-year ``nyet'' on the US proposal for equality of conventional armaments in Europe.