Olfaction Warfare: Odor as Sword and Shield

Report No. ARL-SR-0258
Authors: Elmar Schmeisser, Kimberly A. Pollard, and Tomasz Letowski
Date/Pages: March 2013; 52 pages
Abstract: The use of vision and audition in stealth applications is well recognized; however, other perceptual senses can also play a valuable role. This report discusses the sense of smell (olfaction), its use in nature and everyday life, and its potential applications in military and stealth operations. The sense of smell has largely been overlooked and underutilized in warfare, being restricted to crowd control and deterrent applications. However, the olfactory dimension can be a promising addition to other Department of Defense applications, such as stealth operations, deception, misdirection, and force projection. Further research into olfaction is needed to achieve these aims. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) Special Report ARL-SR-242 Owning the Environment: Stealth Soldier—Research Outline (May 2012) presented an outline of the visual and auditory research needed to support future military stealth operations, misdirection, and deception activities. The current report expands upon ARL-SR-242, extending its scope into the realm of olfaction. This report discusses the olfactory sense in everyday experience, nature, industry, and history, and proposes future directions for the use of olfaction in military operations.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: March 1, 2013