special units designed to protect troops and naval forces from radioactive substances and toxic chemical agents, smoke screens, and incendiary substances. Various states have chemical troops in their armed forces.
Chemical troops first appeared in World War I, when toxic chemical agents and flamethrowers were introduced. The chemical troops carried out chemical cloud attacks, and used small-caliber, heavy, and high-explosive flamethrowers and chemical projectors. By 1917 the German Army had eight chemical battalions; by the end of the same year the Russian Army had 14 chemical companies in addition to the Petrograd chemical-flamethrower training battalion. By 1918 the US Army had three chemical regiments comprising 18 companies each; by the end of the same year the British Army had one chemical brigade with 24 companies. In the period between the world wars, chemical troops acquired mortars, rocket launchers, flamethrower tanks, toxic-smoke pots, and special chemical vehicles.
During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, Soviet chemical troops demonstrated a high level of readiness in defending units of the army in the field against enemy chemical weapons, in destroying the enemy with the aid of flamethrowers, and in setting up smoke screens for troop camouflage.
With the appearance of nuclear and biological weapons, the scope of the missions of the chemical troops has greatly increased, to include protection from radioactive and bacteriological agents.
Modern chemical troops include chemical defense, radiation, chemical reconnaissance, flamethrower, and smoke screen units. They are outfitted with special armament, equipment, and vehicles for carrying out reconnaissance, radiation and chemical monitoring, special treatment of armament and combat matériel, and decontamination and disinfection of the terrain, clothing, and equipment. They are also equipped for setting up smoke screens and for flamethrower operations.
A. D. MOSKALEV