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U.S. Army Field Manual 3-9
Incapacitating Psychoactive Agents
Provenance Unknown
Publication Date Unknown
OCRd by Owen -, Jan 2005
Citation:   Unknown. "Putative US Army Field Manual 3-9: Incapacitating Agents". Possibly US Army Field Manual. Pub Date Unknown.
Erowid received a scanned document anonymously in early January 2005, reported to be a "U.S. Army Field Manual about Incapacitating (Psychoactive) Agents". We have been unable to confirm its authenticity, but it appears to be legitimate. If you have any information about the authenticity, provenance, or publication date of this "US Army Field Manual 3-9: Incapacitating Agents", please let us know.

The submission came with the following note:
I am enclosing a 5 page pdf copied from US Army Field Manual 3-9 that you may find interesting. It is the chapter about incapacitating agents, including BZ and THC.

The military considers BZ an incapacitating agent. Most people misunderstand what that means. It does not include such things as tear gas or pepper spray. In the definition used in this manual, "Incapacitating agents" covers a group of agents and toxins that directly affect the CNS (i.e. THC and Fentanyl are listed). The enclosed document talks about this class of agents somewhat and near the end, covers first aid.

A person who worked with chemical weapons tells me that while the book claims a full recovery in a few days, some subjects had lingering side effects for weeks, months or more. He described the effects of the drug as "Like a bad LSD trip, heavy on the paranoia and narcotic stupor".

This document was quietly declassified a few years back.

None of the information in the document appeared to us to be terribly sensitive or likely to cause the misuse of these chemicals. It is a curious document that provides an interesting glimpse into a military perspective on the non-consensual use of powerful (and sometimes very dangerous) psychoactive chemicals.

Chemicals discussed in this document:
The full document is available as an OCR'd PDF:
US Army Field Manual 3-9: Incapacitating Agents

Introductory Excerpt:

Section III. Incapacitating Agents
Incapacitating agents are chemicals that cause physiological or mental effects that lead to temporary disability. Unlike riot control agents with effects lasting only a few minutes, incapacitating agents produce effects that may last for hours or days after exposure to the agent has ceased. Incapacitating agents differ from other chemical agents in that the lethal dose is many times greater than the incapacitating dose. Thus, they do not seriously endanger life except in cases exceeding many times the effective dose, and they produce no permanent injury. Medical treatment, although not required, may speed recovery.

Many compounds show potential as incapacitating agents. However, in actual use the term refers to those agents that-
  • Produce their effects mainly by altering or disrupting the higher regulatory activity of the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Have effects that last hours or days rather than being momentary or fleeting, as with tear agents.
  • Do not seriously endanger life except at concentrations greatly exceeding the effective dose. They do not produce permanent injury.
  • Allow recovery without treatment and without any per-manent effects.
  • Are highly potent and logistically feasible. Incapacitating agents specifically do not include the following:
    • Lethal agents that are incapacitating at sublethal doses, such as the nerve agents.
    • Substances that cause permanent or long-lasting injury, such as blister agents and choking agents, and those that cause eye injury.
  • Medical drugs that exert marked effects on the central nervous system, such as barbiturates, belladonna alkaloids, tranquilizers, and many of the hallucinogens. These drugs, although effective and relatively safe, are logistically infeasible for large-scale use because of the high doses required.
  • Agents of temporary effectiveness that produce reflex responses that interfere with performance of duty. These include skin and eye irritants that cause pain or itching (vesicants or urticants), vomiting or cough--producing compounds (sternutators), and tear com-pounds (lacrimators).
  • Agents that disrupt basic life-sustaining systems of the body and thus prevent the carrying out of physical activity. Examples include agents that lower blood pressure; paralyzing agents, such as curare; fever- producing agents; respiratory depressants; and blood poisons. Although theoretically effective, such agents almost invariably have a low margin of safety between the effective doses and the possible lethal doses. Thus, they affect the basic purpose of an incapacitating agent, which is to reduce military effectiveness without en-dangering life.

Despite restrictions imposed by the above definition, a great variety of mechanisms remain that could in theory disrupt CNS regulation and maintenance of performance. Only two general types of incapacitating agents are likely to be encountered in military use: the CNS depressants and the CNS stimulants.