e. Operational decon is performed at a forward position, normally near the contaminated squad
or platoon, or between alternate fighting positions. The site requires little, if any, preparation. A
battalion-level decon crew or squad from a chemical unit moves forward to decontaminate the vehicles
of a contaminated squad or platoon. Decontaminants and replacement MOPP gear are provided by a
company supply vehicle near the site.
f. MOPP gear exchange and vehicle washdown are best employed by squad-size or platoon-
size elements. When larger elements try to process through an operational decon site, they lose many of
the benefits of a small decentralized operation. Some of these benefits are:
■ Tailored decontamination operations are flexible and responsive to small unit needs. This is
critical to battlefield mobility.
■ Small, speedy operations are more easily concealed in one location near forward areas.
■ A water source may not be needed at the decontamination site if the M12A1 Power-Driven
Decontamination Apparatus (PDDA) is used. This equipment has a water-carrying capability
large enough to service a squad-size element.
g. Larger elements may divide into squad-size elements for operational decon, but additional
decontamination support will be required. Decon squads from chemical companies provide this support
and reinforce the efforts of the battalion PDDE crew. Divisional and Corps Chemical Officers advise
how to best distribute unit assets to support the battle.
h. The two techniques used in operational decon do not guarantee conditions that safely allow
unmasking on or near equipment. But soldiers may move upwind of "vapor dirty" equipment into a
clean area or collective protection shelter, check for contamination, and briefly unmask. Continuous
contamination checks and monitoring must be conducted to find clean areas and remain in them.
Soldiers must use proper unmasking procedures to safely unmask.
i. Operational decon should be done as soon as it is practical. The longer you wait to remove
or neutralize contamination, the harder it will be to do so. If the protective overgarment becomes
contaminated with liquid chemical agents, the duration of its protective qualities becomes limited;
exchange becomes necessary within 24 hours. Also, the longer you wait, the more opportunity there
will be for an agent to spread thereby compounding contamination problems.