|Primary Weapons Systems in Operation Desert Shield/Storm
*Although the United States has a large arsenal of chemical weapons, the United States has publicly stated its unwillingness to use these weapons of mass destruction in Operation Desert Storm. U.S. stockpiles are maintained in eight continental U.S. sites and on Johnston Atoll, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.
Iraq, on the other hand, has a history of using chemical weapons, even against their own people. During the Iran/Iraq war, chemical artillery shells were fired upon opposing forces on many occasions. Chemical weapons were also dropped on the Kurdish people in Iraq, which has long opposed the Iraqi government. Although chemical warfare manufacturing plants were targeted in the initial operations of Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein has stockpiled large quantities of chemical agent in a large number of storage facilities.
There are the two types of chemical weapons which the Iraqis are belived to possess.
Mustard Gas--First used in WWI, it got this name because of its noticeable smell. Today, the smell is gone but the devastating effect is still the same. Mustard Gas is a blistering agent which, when in contact with exposed flesh, will cause huge and painful blisters. Should the gas be inhaled, the blistering effect is internal and often time fatal.
Nerve Gas--Nerve gas gets into the respiratory system and causes convulsions and respiratory failure. It is considered lethal in even the smallest doses when in contact with skin or inhaled. The antidote kit requires an injection into the infected patient immediately followed by more extensive medical care in a hospital.
Iraq is believed to have several different delivery systems for chemical weapons. The primary system will be artillery shells which have a lethal range of only a few hundred feet. Much more effective is air spraying, much like a cropduster, but given the Iraqi Air Force's inability to operate, this threat is not considered to be great. SCUD missiles are believed to be capable of holding chemical warheads, but Saddam has resisted using this capability, if he indeed has it.
Actions in Desert Storm--
Chemical weapons were not "reportedly" used in Operation Desert Storm, but their terrorizing effect was certainly felt. The first troops through the lines were attacking in full chemical protection gear and on a number of occasions the threat of chemical attack forced soldiers to suit up in the middle of operations. Intelligence gathered from Iraqi P.O.W.'s indicated that the Iraqis were not comfortable using chemical weapons because much of their own defense against these gases was in poor condition and subsequent searches in Kuwait found no evidence of chemical weapons stores.
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