Synopsis: Faced with the prospect of the next war being a nuclear one, the Army working in conjunction with the Atomic Energy Commission carried out the Desert Rock Exercises on the Nevada Proving Grounds to prove that combat troops can indeed operate on the nuclear battlefield... (read more)
A tent encampment was set up approximately 27 miles from where the atomic explosions were to be detonated. There, they received hours of training in radiation and the affects of nuclear weapons on equipment such tanks, armored personnel carries and artillery as well to dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays on themselves as they move about in a radioactive environment.
At the start of the exercise the majority of troops were positioned approximately 7 miles from the
the explosion. With little to no cover, troops were instructed to crouch down and face away from the blast to avoid eye damage and flash blindness. As the nuclear air burst detonates, the bomb flash blanks out the troops from view, followed by blast winds and the noise of the explosion.
A short time after the nuclear explosion troops are transported as close as 1/2 mile to ground zero in an exercise to see if they could then repair, operate and make combat effective, military vehicles and gun emplacements pre-positioned prior to the detonation.
While this exercise was deemed a success, it is only within the last 20 years or so that we have begun to realize the insidious long-term effects such tests have wrought upon America's first Atomic Soldiers.