DoD Recovered Chemical Warfare Material (RCWM) Program

References Home

DoDD 5101.17E, Roles and Responsibilities Associated with the Recovery of Chemical Warfare Material, dated 11 May 2016 with Change 2, 31 August 2018, assigns the Secretary of the Army (SA) as the DoD Executive Agent (EA) for the RCWM Program. The SA delegated the EA responsibilities to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment (ASA(IE&E)). The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health (DASA(ESOH)) fulfills these responsibilities on behalf of ASA(IE&E). The consolidation of responsibilities for this Program, under the Army, provides for consistency in DoD’s approach, avoids duplicating programs and aids with the efficient use of limited resources.

The RCWM Program, which maintains critical DoD capabilities (i.e., the RCWM Program Support Functions), provides a wide range of support for the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) as DoD seeks to address locations known or suspected to contain chemical warfare materiel (CWM). Initially, the RCWM Program was intended to focus on the recovery and destruction of buried CWM; however, the Army understood that the intent was to address every situation in which the RCWM Program Support Functions would be required to address recovered CWM, regardless of the circumstances of recovery. As such, the Army recommended and Office of the Secretary of Defense agreed the RCWM Program be expanded to provide a comprehensive approach for addressing recovered CWM, including CWM that are discarded military munitions (DMM) or unexploded ordnance (UXO), munitions and certain materials of interest that contain an unknown liquid fill, contaminated debris or environmental media posing a chemical agent-hazard, and chemical agent identification sets (CAIS). Additionally, on a cost-reimbursable basis, the RCWM Program Support Functions are provided to other DoD programs, and, subject to DoD approval, Combatant Commands and the Department of State.

Relevant Documents

DoD Policy

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment. Memorandum, Treatment of Chemical Agent Identification Sets as Hazardous Waste. April 24, 2007.

Department of Defense Directive 5101.17E, Roles and Responsibilities Associated with the Recovery of Chemical Warfare Material. May 11, 2016 with Change 2, August 31, 2018.

Department of Defense (DoD) Munitions Response Site Inventory website.

Department of Defense Manual 4715.20, Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). USD(AT&L). March 9, 2012

Secretary of the Army. Memorandum: Delegation of Authority for Department of Defense Executive Agent Responsibility for Recovery of Chemical Warfare Material Program Within the United States. March 2, 2018.

Secretary of the Army (SA) Memorandum:  Designation of Responsibility for Recovery and Destruction of Buried Chemical Warfare Material, dated 20 September 2007 and enclosureRecovered Chemical Warfare Materiel Program Implementation Plan, dated July 2007.


Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics). Memorandum: Final Implementation Plan for the Recovery and Destruction of Buried Chemical Warfare Materiel. March 10, 2010.


National Academy of Science. Systems and Technologies for the Treatment of Non-Stockpile Chemical Warfare Material. 2002.

Guides and Information

Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate. Old Chemical Weapons and Related Materiel Reference Guide. 2018.

Fact Sheets and Brochures

Defense Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Network and Information Exchange, 3Rs Explosives Safety Education Web site. Fact Sheet: Chemical Agent Identification Sets. November 2014.

RCWM Program Integrating Office. RCWM Program Installation Guide. March 2018.

Fact Sheet: Explosive Destruction System Overview. 2016

Fact Sheet: Single CAIS Access and Neutralization System. 2016

Fact Sheet: Milestones in U.S. Chemical Weapons Storage and Destruction. 2018.

Fact Sheet: RCMD Overview. 2016.

Fact Sheet: Materiel Assessment Review Board (MARB). 2016.

Relevant Laws and Regulations

10 U.S.C., CHAPTER 160—Environmental Restoration (sections 2700-2711).

32 C.F.R. Part 179, Munitions Response Site Prioritization Protocol (MRSPP).

42 U.S.C. CHAPTER 103 - Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability (sections 9601 - 9675).