bounds of the dose limits were at the threshold for development of radiation sickness.

In the post Cold War setting, military scenarios involving radioactive contamination rarely reflect global nuclear war but more often consider limited nuclear exchanges, terrorist actions using improvised nuclear devices, conventional explosives employed as a means of disseminating radioactive materials, or nuclear power plant accidents. In these scenarios, radioactive contamination would be more restricted geographically, and the immediate risks to a soldier might be much lower. Except in rare circumstances, radiation doses under these scenarios would be well below the lethal level, yet they could be above the occupational dose limits that are applied to civilian workers (CFR, 1991). The new NATO guidance addresses protection for soldiers at risk of exposure at levels that could result in doses above background up to 700 mSv. In this report, the Committee to Study Battlefield Radiation Exposure Criteria reviews this guidance as it is expressed in ACE Directive 80-63 (NATO, 1996).

During the Persian Gulf War, the Army recognized the potential for exposure of soldiers to levels of radiation that exceeded occupational levels but were below levels set in STANAG 2083, Commanders' Guide on Nuclear Radiation of Groups (NATO, 1986). During Desert Shield and Storm, the Foreign Science and Technology Center warned of the possibility that conventional explosives could be used by threat forces to disseminate radioactive materials (e.g., from reactor waste or radium and radioactive cesium and cobalt from radiotherapy sources) on the battlefield. The U.S. Army participated in developing NATO radiation protection guidelines for the soldier in the new radiation exposure scenario, with an Army representative heading the NATO team of experts.

Military commanders have always had to weigh multiple risks in their decisions. In the Cold War setting, the emphasis was on acute (immediately life-threatening) risks related to survival. In this new era, commanders face missions, such as peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance, in nonbattlefield environments, in which the risk of immediately disabling and life-threatening injuries is lower.

Thus, the potential for delayed health effects of battlefield activities (e.g., the potential for developing cancer from radiation exposure) takes on new importance. This is new ethical and doctrinal ground for Army planners. They wish to ensure that the standard of protection proposed in the ACE Directive has a sound scientific and ethical basis before they apply it generally in U.S. Army doctrine.

Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) recognized a need to plan for potential radiation exposure of military forces in Europe that might occur during the peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. In response, SHAPE staff developed the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Directive Number 80-63, ACE Policy for Defensive Measures against Low Level Radiological Hazards during Military Operations.

The Directive applies to all NATO forces in Europe and is intended to provide guidance to military commanders whose troops may encounter radiation

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement