c. Equipment Limitations.
Although MOPP Gear will provide protection from most chemical and biological agent attacks, several
limitations will begin to reduce its effectiveness. Some concentrations of contamination may eventually
overcome the gear's protective qualities. Agents can gradually penetrate the mask hood. If an agent is
removed quickly, before it can begin penetrating, the protective qualities of the hood are extended many
hours. The charcoal in the mask filter and the overgarments may become saturated. Water, fuel, grease,
or oil could defeat the protective qualities of the MOPP Gear.
MOPP Gear provides little direct protection from the hazards of radiological contamination, such as the
radiation from fallout. But commanders may often decide to use it for its indirect advantages. MOPP 4
can prevent the inhalation of radioactive particles, keep contamination off skin, and greatly simplify
decontamination. Although the danger is not immediate, the contamination will gradually build up to a
dangerous level. Therefore, it must be removed as soon as the mission allows.
Unless some decontamination is performed early, contamination can be spread. For example, troops
climbing in and out of a contaminated tank might spread agent from the outside to the inside.
Contaminated equipment evacuated for repair could spread agent along the evacuation route and
possibly into the maintenance area. Contaminated supplies and ammunition-flowing forward may
spread agent along the supply route and pose a hazard to uncontaminated units receiving these items.
Principles of Decontamination.
Decontamination is costly in terms of manpower, time, space, and materiel. These resources are also
required to fight the battle, so commanders must apply them wisely and sparingly. The wisest way to
conserve these resources and still sustain combat power is by following these four principles: Speed,
need, limit, and priority.
a. Decontaminate as soon as possible.
This is the most important principle of the four. You must consider this principle before you consider
any other. Speed is essential when you are contaminated. Contamination on personnel not in MOPP
Gear poses an immediate hazard and can be lethal within minutes after contamination. Combat power
drops as soon as personnel put on MOPP Gear. As soon as contamination is removed, you can reduce
MOPP level and restore combat power.