How Chemical Warfare Changed Warfare

Parrish Wallace and David Martin

“How Chemical Warfare Changed”

10/23/14

War has not just come out of nowhere, it has always been a part of humanity. Although, it is nothing new, war has changed very much. For example, World War 1, it is a war that is well known globally for the violent and gruesome wars that occurred. World War 1 was the introduction of many weapons which are now today advanced and used for multiple purposes. One of those weapons is known for being extremely deadly and effects more than the intended target. These weapons are called “chemical weapons”.  This weapon caused warfare to drastically change.

The first time chemicals were used in war was in 1912. Although it was a small amount of non-lethal tear gas, it was still very effective. Tear gas is a gas used to disrupt the enemies’ vision and leave them disoriented. These actions of the French caused a development in warfare, inspiring armies of now and then to use chemicals in result of getting an advantage over enemies. Within a 3 year time span, multiple armies were using this frequently until the first lethal gas of World War 1 was used, chlorine. Chlorine is a gas that attacks and destroys the respiratory organs, causing death by asphyxiation. Chlorine gas was used by members of a German army against the French. This killed more than 1000 French and Algerian soldiers. There were many more gases used during this war such as phosgene, xylyl bromide, benzyl bromide and the most commonly known gas, mustard gas.

Among all gases and poisonous vapors, mustard gas was the most powerful. Mustard gas took 12 hours to have an effect. It also stays active in soil for several weeks. It caused the victims skin to blister, eyes to become sore, as well as vomiting out the mouth. It attacked the bronchial tubes causing internal bleed. This gas was used by Germans in 1917, although it mostly aided them in combat it can also betray them because it settles wherever it is released. Mustard gas is heavier than air and water so it settled in the trenches, ditches, puddles and made persistent environmental hazard for troops. All a soldier had to do was disturbed the dirt, mud or water and would suffer from gas exposure. Mustard gas was commonly used by the United States in 1918, more than 30 tons a day was made. It was used mainly for attacking enemies. Troops used mustard gas and other chemical weapons to gain a tactical advantage over the enemies.

The use of chemicals in combat has greatly developed warfare. Chemical warfare is now used in a way much more superior than it was in World War 1. It is feared globally, not just by military troops, but civilians. Even if it is not being used, it still provides an advantage for the army using it because it strikes fear in enemies. Chemical warfare is now more advanced because it is more accurate with effecting enemies and only enemies. Chemicals were more commonly used in ww2 than ww1 because it was known and dependable for the users.

Citations:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/chemical_warfare.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/agency-last-of-syrias-chemical-weapons-handed-over-for-destruction/2014/06/23/4eb9a138-fad9-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html

http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/05/17/chemical-warfare-ww1/

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