Rumors and speculations of cremating the remains of U. S. soldiers killed in future wars has been put to rest, as the Pentagon recently decided against cremation overseas.
Since the Korean War, the U. S. has always returned the bodies of soldiers who have died in the war. However, with the increased risk of chemicals and biological weapon exposure, the Pentagon decided to take a closer look at ways to handle remains in future wars.
If soldiers are contaminated and killed, there must be a proper way of disposing of the corpses to effectively preserve the lives of surviving troops. One way of isolating contamination is by cremation. Another option, while on the war front, would be to create mass graves for infected soldiers.
The preferred method would be to return the corpses in airtight body bags for a closed casket funeral at home. Returning soldiers to the U. S. who have been contaminated was being debated, until the Pentagon decided that sealed off caskets would suffice in containing chemical and biological ailments.
This idea of mass burial is not new. In 1991, a similar plan of mass burial was ready to be executed. Fortunately, such drastic action was not necessary, as we did not experience a large number of casualties due to biological or chemical weapons during the Gulf War.
Depending upon whether the death was caused by chemical or biological weapons determines how the body can properly be disposed. For example, someone contaminated with small pox would have to be cremated on the spot, because decontamination is impossible. Chemical contamination is much easier to decontaminate for traditional burials at home. The primary dilemma is a lack of time. It is impossible for field commanders to have enough time to make such a rapid assessment of whose remains can be saved and sent home.
Precautions have been taken by the military to prevent mass casualties in the event of an attack. Each soldier is equipped with an advanced gas mask and an airtight protective suit. Serious problems can result if the mask is not secure and in place. The suit can also be deemed ineffective if severed in anyway during combat.
Such gear is bulky and uncomfortable in the scorching heat of the Persian Gulf, meaning that soldiers are less likely to wear gear all of the time, making them susceptible to colorless, odorless, yet fatal weapons. Despite all of the precautions, the possibility of mass casualties is still probable.
In the past, our military has prided itself on bringing fallen soldiers back to the U. S. for a proper burial. The Pentagon wants to uphold tradition but wishes to do so in an effective manner without endangering the lives of others.
The review panel has released information stating that standard procedures of sealing caskets is effective in keeping chemical and biological ailments contained, thus cremation has been overruled.