Operation Top Hat was a "local field exercise"conducted by the United States Army Chemical Corps in 1953. The exercise involved the use of Chemical Corps personnel to test biological and chemical warfare decontamination methods. These personnel were deliberately exposed to these contaminants, so as to test decontamination.
In June 1953 the United States Army formally adopted guidelines regarding the use of human subjects in chemical, biological, or radiological testing and research.The guidelines were adopted per an Army Chief of Staff memo (MM 385) and closely mirrored the Nuremberg Code. These guidelines also required that all research projects involving human subjects receive approval from the Secretary of the Army. The guidelines, however, left a loophole; they did not define what types of experiments and tests required such approval from the secretary, thus encouraging "selective compliance" with the guidelines.
Under the guidelines, seven research projects involving chemical weapons and human subjects were submitted by the Chemical Corps for Secretary of the Army approval in August 1953.One project involved vesicants, one involved phosgene, and five were experiments which involved nerve agents; all seven were approved. Operation Top Hat, however, was not among the projects submitted to the Secretary of the Army for approval.
Operation Top Hat was termed a "local field exercise" by the Army and took place from September 15–19, 1953 at the Army Chemical School at Fort McClellan, Alabama. In a 1975 Pentagon Inspector General's report, the military maintained Top Hat was not subject to the guidelines requiring approval because it was a "line of duty" exercise in the Chemical Corps. The experiments used Chemical Corps personnel to test decontamination methods for biological and chemical weapons, including mustard gas and nerve agents. Chemical Corps personnel participating in the tests were not volunteers and were not informed of the tests.
Mustard gas, though technically not a gas and often called sulfur mustard by scholarly sources, is the prototypical substance of the sulfur-based family of cytotoxic and vesicant chemical warfare agents, which can form large blisters on exposed skin and in the lungs. They have a long history of use as a blister-agent in warfare and, along with organoarsenic compounds such as Lewisite, are the most well-studied of such agents. Related chemical compounds with similar chemical structure and similar properties form a class of compounds known collectively as sulfur mustards or mustard agents. Pure sulfur mustards are colorless, viscous liquids at room temperature. When used in impure form, such as warfare agents, they are usually yellow-brown and have an odor resembling mustard plants, garlic, or horseradish, hence the name. The common name of "mustard gas" is inaccurate because the sulfur mustard is not actually vaporized, but dispersed as a fine mist of liquid droplets. Mustard gas was originally assigned the name LOST, after the scientists Wilhelm Lommel and Wilhelm Steinkopf, who developed a method of large-scale production for the Imperial German Army in 1916.
Chemical warfare (CW) involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from nuclear warfare and biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for nuclear, biological, and chemical, all of which are considered "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs). None of these fall under the term conventional weapons which are primarily effective due to their destructive potential. In theory, with proper protective equipment, training, and decontamination measures, the primary effects of chemical weapons can be overcome. In practice, they continue to cause much suffering, as most victims are defenseless . Many nations possess vast stockpiles of weaponized agents in preparation for wartime use. The threat and the perceived threat have become strategic tools in planning both measures and counter-measures.
Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) is a U.S. Army facility located adjacent to Aberdeen, Harford County, Maryland, United States. Part of the facility is a census-designated place (CDP), which had a population of 3,116 at the 2000 census, and 2,093 as of the 2010 census.
Lewisite (L) is an organoarsenic compound. It was once manufactured in the U.S., Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union for use as a chemical weapon, acting as a vesicant and lung irritant. Although colorless and odorless, impure samples of lewisite are a yellow, brown, violet-black, green, or amber oily liquid with a distinctive odor that has been described as similar to geraniums.
Porton Down is a science park in Wiltshire, England, just northeast of the village of Porton, near Salisbury. It is home to two British government facilities: a site of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) – known for over 100 years as one of the UK's most secretive and controversial military research facilities, occupying 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) – and a site of Public Health England. It is also home to other private and commercial science organisations, and is expanding to attract other companies.
The United States is known to have possessed three types of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat, when it detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. It had secretly developed the earliest form of the atomic weapon during the 1940s under the title "Manhattan Project". The United States pioneered the development of both the nuclear fission and hydrogen bombs. It was the world's first and only nuclear power for four years (1945–1949), until the Soviet Union managed to produce its own nuclear weapon. The United States has the second largest number of nuclear weapons in the world, after Russia.
Chemical, biological (CB) — and sometimes radiological — warfare agents were assigned what is termed a military symbol by the U.S. military until the American chemical and biological weapons programs were terminated. Military symbols applied to the CB agent fill, and not to the entire weapon. A chemical or biological weapon designation would be, for example, "Aero-14/B", which could be filled with GB, VX, TGB, or with a biological modification kit – OU, NU, UL, etc. A CB weapon is an integrated device of (1) agent, (2) dissemination means, and (3) delivery system.
Operation Whitecoat was a biodefense medical research program carried out by the United States Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland between 1954 and 1973. The program pursued medical research using volunteer enlisted personnel who were eventually nicknamed "Whitecoats". These volunteers, all conscientious objectors, including many members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were informed of the purpose and goals of each project before providing consent to participate in any project. The stated purpose of the research was to defend troops and civilians against biological weapons and it was believed that the Soviet Union was engaged in similar activities.
From 1948 to 1975, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps conducted classified human subject research at the Edgewood Arsenal facility in Maryland. The purpose was to study the effect of low-dose chemical warfare agents on military personnel, as well as to test protective clothing, pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Some of the studies were directed at psychochemical warfare and named the "Medical Research Volunteer Program" (1956–1975). The MRVP was partially driven by the need for more effective enhanced interrogation techniques.
The Chemical Corps is the branch of the United States Army tasked with defending against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. The corps was founded as the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) during World War I. Its name was changed to the Chemical Corps in 1946. For most of its history, the Chemical Corps was tasked with delivering chemical weapons rather than defending against them.
Project 112 was a biological and chemical weapon experimentation project conducted by the United States Department of Defense from 1962 to 1973.
Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) was the U.S. Army's first chemical munitions disposal facility. It was located on Johnston Island, at Johnston Atoll and completed its mission and ceased operation in 2000.
The Deseret Test Center was a U.S. Army operated command in charge of testing chemical and biological weapons during the 1960s. Deseret was headquartered at Fort Douglas, Utah, a former U.S. Army base.
Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS), known by several other names, were sets of glass vials or bottles that contained small amounts of chemical agents. They were employed by all branches of the United States Armed Forces from 1928-1969 for the purpose of training in detection, handling and familiarization with chemical warfare. Most CAIS were destroyed in the 1980s but the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency still occasionally demilitarizes CAIS that are found buried.
Unethical human experimentation in the United States describes numerous experiments performed on human test subjects in the United States that have been considered unethical, and were often performed illegally, without the knowledge, consent, or informed consent of the test subjects. Such tests have occurred throughout American history, but particularly in the 20th century. The experiments include: the exposure of humans to many chemical and biological weapons, human radiation experiments, injection of toxic and radioactive chemicals, surgical experiments, interrogation and torture experiments, tests involving mind-altering substances, and a wide variety of others. Many of these tests were performed on children, the sick, and mentally disabled individuals, often under the guise of "medical treatment". In many of the studies, a large portion of the subjects were poor, racial minorities, or prisoners.
A chemical weapon (CW) is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "the term chemical weapon may also be applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled, are also considered weapons themselves."
Chemical weapons were widely used by the United Kingdom in World War I, and while the use of tear gas was suggested by Churchill and others postwar in Mesopotamia and in World War II, it appears that they were not actually used, although some historians disagree. While the UK was a signatory of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 which outlawed the use of poison gas shells, the conventions omitted mention of deployment from cylinders, probably because that had not been considered.
The United States chemical weapons program began in 1917 during World War I with the creation of the U.S. Army's Gas Service Section and ended 73 years later in 1990 with the country's practical adoption of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Destruction of stockpiled chemical weapons began in 1985 and is still ongoing. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD), at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, continues to operate.
Chemical weapons have been a part of warfare in most societies, although their use has been particularly controversial since the 20th century.