Russia Renews Fear of Chemical Warfare

The dangers of chemical and biological weaponry are real. After Russia poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal, allegedly via the air vents of Skripal’s automobile, the deadliness and sheer terror of what non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction hold have been brought back into the limelight. Although the cause for concern isn’t as prominent as some of the major, real-world issues that dominate daily news headlines, it can’t hurt to educate ourselves on the history and impact chem, and bio attacks maintain here in the 21st century.

Biological weaponry can be referenced as far back as the B.C. era. Although experts are split, it is largely believed that in battle time, foes would catapult infected bodies of Mongol Warriors over castle walls in the city of Kaffa, culminating in the continued spread of the Bubonic Plague that wiped out 30% of the world population in the mid-1300’s. Sadly, one of the most well known biological attacks came in the confines of the United States less than 300 years ago: the British Army infecting Native Americans with smallpox-ridden blankets is a stain that can’t be removed. In a more modern example, had Japan not surrendered to the U.S., they would have decimated the innocent civilian population of San Diego utilizing pathogens developed by the disdainful, torturous, and infamous Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army, well known for their human experimentation amidst World War II.

Luckily —and I use that term loosely— biowarfare is nearly impossible to control, as a biological agent simply can’t be controlled; chances are if one were to be released during wartime the agent would find it’s way back to its host country.

Regarding chemical warfare, it also dates back as far as the history books will take us, even being referenced in Greek mythology epics (Homer’s arrows are said to have been dipped in the venom of the Hydra). In a more real-world scenario, historians have recounted that Alexander the Great was attacked by firebombs and poisoned arrows as well.

On September 4th of 1900, The Hague Declaration was put into play. Initially proposed by Nicholas II, The Hague Convention resulted in a combination of six treaties and declarations, purporting in so many words that chemical agents of any kind are outlawed and forbidden. Despite this, CW played a prominent role in both World Wars. The attacks all essentially came in the form of gas; chlorine, phosgene, and mustard. Chlorine acts as a choking agent causing death by asphyxiation, with phosgene doing the same; phosgene, however, is much more lethal. Mustard gas is a bit different, as that’s known as a blister agent. It’s smelly, as opposed to its odorless counterparts, and has a slower incubation period. Regardless of the details, all three agents are outlawed and were the cause of slow and inhumane deaths during WWI.

In 1972, The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention was authorized, and although it bans the development and use of biological and chemical weaponry, a multitude of countries continue to weaponize and develop bio and chem agents. This was made evident just five years ago by the Syrian Army, who attacked their own civilians, and again in 2017 when they killed 80 more people in the city of Khan Sheikhoun.

Should we be fearful of an attack in our own backyard? Not necessarily. Although there are at least a dozen countries (Russia, North Korea, South Africa and the U.S. to name a few) who are thought to possess NBC type weaponry, the fact of the matter is attacks are few and far between. Unfortunately, when they do occur, they become worldwide headlines that can put fear into even the most battle-hardened soldier. However, the United States military has specific MOS’ designed to combat the aforementioned attacks and inhumanity. The field of CBRN —chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear— defense teaches our soldiers and Marines how to recon, detect, prevent and decontaminate the deadliest of agents.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Gerard Lombardo

Gerard served as a United States Marine from 2009-2013 with two overseas deployments, the first being to Afghanistan's Helmand Province in 2011. After an honorable discharge, he began his pursuit of a bachelor's degree in journalism and is currently working his way up the ranks as a Red Sox writer while administrating and moderating multiple sports writing platforms. His passion for writing is only outdone by the love he has for his pit bull, and his life goal is to eliminate suicidal and mental health issues amongst the veterans of our country.

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