United Poultry Concerns February 19 , 2003
Chickens to Be Used By U.S. Military to Detect Deadly Chemicals in Iraq
The Chicken Defense
Time [Magazine] Europe
Simon Robinson/South of the Kuwait-Iraq Border
February 19, 2003

U.S. Troops will be using poultry to detect chemical attacks in Iraq

A war against Iraq will see the debut of some of the most sophisticated weaponry ever used. But U.S. troops will also rely on one of the most low-tech detection devices around: chickens. Worried that the pollution from blown oil installations will clog up complicated detection equipment and make it difficult to pick up deadly chemical and nerve agents, U.S. marines and soldiers will drive into battle across the
dusty plains of Iraq with caged chickens atop their Hum-Vees.

The chickens, which were otherwise destined for Kuwaiti dinner tables, will work in the same way as canaries in coal mines used to. Small traces of poisonous gases or chemical agent will kill the birds and warn troops to put on their gas masks. "A sky full of oil can mask some chemicals," says Warrant Officer Jeff French, a nuclear, biological and chemical officer for a marine battalion in Kuwait. "Using chickens may sound basic but it's still one of the best ways we have of detecting chemical agent."

Dubbed Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken (KFC), the use of chickens is sure to enrage animal activists. But chickens were used to detect for chemicals during the first Gulf War, and, says French, consider that the alternative may be dozens of dead troops. Consider too that marines and soldiers will face nerve-racking moments with or without chickens. U.S. troops in Kuwait have been training to fight and live in their protective suits but at some point after a chemical attack they will have to take them off.

After testing for chemicals, one or two men - usually of different sizes and races - will remove their masks in a "selective unmasking." Those who keep their masks on will study the skin and pupils of the unmasked
for symptoms of lingering airborne chemicals. "Using chemicals is a really unfair way of fighting," says French. "The best way to describe it is if I blindfolded you and came and kicked you in the groin as hard
as I can. It's just not fair. But whatever Saddam throws at us, we'll be ready.

Chickens willing . . .

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. http://www.UPC-online.org

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