Radioactive commodities in the U.S. Army are controlled, as they are in civilian industrial operations, under licenses issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Exposures that could result from the fabrication, maintenance, or application of these radioactive commodities are subject to control under civilian regulations (CFR, 1991) that tend to adhere to the general philosophy and implement practices espoused by ICRP and NCRP.

Army-specific requirements for control and safe handling of radioactive commodities are under the jurisdiction of the Army Materiel Command (AMC, 1980), whereas the protection of individual soldiers is a medical function under the purview of the Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG, 1995a, b). Two medical documents from the Office of the Surgeon General constitute the bulk of the individual radiation protection program in the Army. Although the regulations provide a measure of radiation protection for soldiers that parallels that for civilians in similar environments and under similar circumstances, they do not extend that same protection in militarily unique missions, as the following excerpt from Army (Medical) Regulation 40-14 demonstrates (OTSG, 1995a):

Applicability. This regulation applies to Department of the Army (DA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) installations and activities. This includes the Army National Guard of the United States (ARNGUS), U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), and civilians under contract with the DA or DLA who perform tasks involving occupational exposure to DA and DLA controlled radioactive material or radiation-producing devices. This publication is not applicable during mobilization or anytime the U.S. Army adopts a state of readiness directly preparatory to actual or imminent armed conflict in a geographical zone where peacetime occupational radiation exposure conditions cannot reasonably be construed to prevail.

  1. In particular, this regulation remains applicable to DA and DLA personnel deployed on either humanitarian or peacekeeping missions where the degree of readiness to respond to hostile fire requires the availability of radioactive commodities, such as depleted uranium ammunition, as a contingency.
  2. This regulation does NOT apply to the following:
  3. (1)  

    Personnel exposed to ionizing radiation and radioactive materials resulting from the use of ionizing radiation sources and devices in geographical areas or zones where—

    • (a)  

      Hostile fire or combat already exists or is strongly anticipated to occur, or

    • (b)  

      Combat missions are intentionally going to be conducted by Department of Defense personnel.

    • (2)  

      Patients exposed to ionizing radiation in the course of medical and dental examination, diagnosis, or treatment. This exception does not apply to health care providers.

    • (3)  

      Human research subjects exposed to ionizing radiation in the course of voluntary participation in medical research programs.

    • (4)  

      Doses received from natural background radiation.

  4. (Emphases have been added.)

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