Nerve Agent Symptoms

Anybody who served in the Army in the last 50 years or so will recall the symptoms of nerve agent poisoning:

Headaches, blurry vision, difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest, nausea, and muscular twitching of exposed skin.

Why do I mention this?

Because I was spraying ant-killer this morning. And almost immediately suffered symptoms. Which is not at all surprising, since ant-killer is a complex organophosphate. It’s just diluted nerve gas. In fact, nerve agents were discovered kinda by accident while developing insecticides.

Nerve agents can attack you via inhalation, ingestion, or even just skin absorption. Back in the Cold War, and during Desert Storm, we paid a huge amount of attention to chemical warfare, preparing to defend ourselves against nerve agents and other chemical weapons. And of course, during the first stages of the current Iraqi war, there was great concern that Saddam’s regime would use chemical agents.

Time to kill ants
Time to kill ants

Lately, the emphasis has shifted to other concerns, such as IED detection and Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT). But all soldiers still maintain a basic proficiency in defense against chemical warfare.

6 thoughts on “Nerve Agent Symptoms”

  1. Brad, Brad. You should have used the time honored Texas method of ant killing:

    Drink a six pack of Lone Star Beer.
    Urinate on ant hill
    Repeat until ants are gone.

  2. Did you get all pat-pat, rub-rub, auto-injector on it, or did you just get fresh air and sunshine to make it better?

  3. Since I, VX, AM a “nerve agent” I think I’ll weigh-in here. While I understand the geopolitical reasoning behind it, I still feel that getting rid of our offensive chem capability was a HUGE mistake. With no threat to retaliate in kind it forces us to operate in poopy (MOP) suits which degrade our operational capabilities almost to the point of total ineffectiveness while allowing the enemy to roam around free of any operational constraints caused by having to don HIS suits. And the supposed answer to this is that we threaten them with TAC nukes is a hollow one–whole world knows that’ll be “never/no hotchee.”

    But then we were never serious about chem warfare in the first place. The Soviets used to train with diluted forms of the real stuff (both Army and Navy) just to impress on their people the seriousness of it all, and give their people confidence they could operate in such an environment. They integrated Chem units at ALL levels while we NEVER did so. Fully 1/3 of all their IRBM/MRBMs were tipped with Chem warheads. They planned to use the stuff from jump street, rather than as last resort or for “special” circumstances.

    Basically, we are whistling past the graveyard in our PC attitudes about Chem warfare.

  4. Yeah, it was pretty apparent we weren’t going to nuke Baghdad in retaliation for sliming troops in the field.

    Having said that, having us running around in MOPP1 or 2, while uncomfortable, wasn’t enough to save the Iraqi Army or the IRGC in either ’91 or ’03.

    Whether that overmatch will continue in the next war remains to be seen.

Comments are closed.