Indian Defence

In-Depth Analysis: Biological Warfare

Hello Defence Lovers, It’s been more than a year, still, the pandemic that we are facing is going on. Nobody knows when will it be over. This pandemic has made all of us realize the potential and impact of biological entities in our lives. According to some media reports, referring to the documents of US state department officials, Chinese military scientists have investigated weaponizing coronaviruses in 2015. This has pointed out Biological Warfare. For us, as aspirants, it is important to know about biological warfare.

What Is Biological Warfare?

One can get the idea by its name itself, Biological warfare, the warfare where the biological agents like bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. are intentionally used to incapacitate the enemy. These agents can be used to harm or directly to kill the enemy.

From ancient times, man has been using various poisons, insects to assassinate the individual or to attack enemy forces. The poisonous agents used to be mixed in water wells in enemy areas. The heads of the arrows were usually dipped into the poisons. Sometimes the harmful biological agents used to be applied on the tip of the arrows to increase the lethality of the arrows.

Certain epidemics used to intentionally spread in enemy camps so that the enemy will be incapacitate to fight back.

What Makes A Biological Warfare More Dangerous?

Biological warfare is considered unconventional warfare though biological agents have been used in wars from ancient times. It was on small scale only. Today, the development in technology has made it so dangerous that it has not only limited to the camps of the soldiers but it has extended to the civilian population also. The population is itself the medium that propagates it and makes bioweapon more dangerous than anything.

Cost effectivity is another factor that may encourage one to go for biological warfare. Bioweapons are also called poor man’s atom bomb. According to the experts, the comparative cost of civilian casualties is “$2,000 per square km with conventional weapons, $800 with nuclear weapons, $600 with nerve-gas weapons, and $1 with biological weapons.”

Use Of Biological Weapons In Past:

1) According to Britannica, one of the first uses of biological weapons was occurred in 1347, when Mangol forces had catapulted plague-infected bodies over the walls in the Black sea port of caffa.(now Ukraine)

2) In 18th century, Russian Army (in 1710) & British Troops (in 1763) have said to be used the plague infected corpses and smallpox virus respectively.

3) During World war-1(1914-1918), Germany had initiated infecting horses and cattle owned by allied forces on Western and eastern fronts.

4) Germans also had reportedly attempted to spread plague in 1915 in Saint Petersburg to weaken the Russian resistance.

5) Although there is no documented evidence of any use of biological weapons in World war 2. Almost all the participants had active research and development programme regarding the use of biological entities in warfare.

6) Japanese are said to be experimented, with the infectious agents. They experimented & used the bubonic plague, Anthrax typhus, smallpox, yellow fever, hepatitis, Cholera, gas gangrene and glanders, etc. between 1937 to 1945.

Efforts To Stop The Use Of Biological Weapons:

1) Geneva protocol, 1925, what’s the result after world realised its necessity after World War1. It banned the use of biological and chemical weapons in war. Yet, we have seen the signatories used it in World War2.

Biological Weapons Convention

2) World again came together in 1972, for Biological Weapons Convention. But it has no existing inspection and verification procedures to verify the compliance by its signatories.

Conclusion –

One can realize the impact of the spread of such biological agents by one’s own experience in the covid19 pandemic. We do not know exactly if it is a deliberate spread or accidental leak from Wuhan’s lab. We can imagine bio-terrorism and the intentional spread of more harmful biological agents which is not impossible. Small capital investment and few dozen biologists can develop this threat. That is why it is also in the reach of terrorist organizations around the globe. It is the necessity of time that the world should take serious efforts to curb such possibilities in the coming future.


Dinesh Mahajan

Defence Aspirant. Student of Defence And Strategic Studies. NET Qualified in Defence Studies.

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