‘Highlander’ support Soldiers engage in CBRN training
Sgt. Brandon A. Bednarek,
4th BCT, 1st AD, Public Affairs:
As part of their annual guidance, the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, mustered its Soldiers at the Tobin Wells gas chamber Oct. 18 to review and conduct chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear procedures and training.
Rather than expediting troops through the chamber, battalion leaders ensured Soldiers were fully prepared not only for the chamber itself, but also for any future CBRN attacks by rotating Soldiers through five concurrent training stations.
The stations served as a prerequisite for entering the chamber and familiarized Soldiers on chemical threat detection, decontamination procedures, basic mask functions and how to properly react to a chemical or biological attack.
“This is the minimum standard for me,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Mills, the training coordinator. “I felt that it was important that Soldiers were training properly on protecting themselves in a chemical environment before they went into the chamber.”
After passing through all stations, Soldiers donned their protective masks and filed into the confined chamber where they were subjected to a dose CS gas, a non-lethal aerosol compound commonly known as tear gas.
Once inside, the unit’s chemical non-commissioned officers instructed Soldiers to unseal and clear their masks, perform callisthenic exercises and sing the division song sans masks before exiting the chamber.
“When you first take off your mask there is about a second or two before [the gas] goes right through you,” said Spc. Ghislaine Hernandez, an automated logistical specialist assigned to Company G, 123rd BSB, who was reluctant to undertake the chamber.
The gas, primarily used to invoke confidence in the Soldiers’ protective equipment, produces effects typically consisting of watering eyes, irritation of the upper respiratory tract and a burning sensation of the skin.
“We’re ensuring that Soldiers down to the lowest level understand exactly how to clear and seal their mask, detect chemical agents and mitigate against a possible or real attack,” said Mills.
The CBRN training comes at a particularly important time when political tensions and uprisings are continuing to spread across the Middle East, most notably in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is believed to have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world, according to an Oct. 16 Associated Press article Mills briefed to the Soldiers.
“They’re aware that this is serious training, because there is a huge threat of chemical attacks in that area of world,” said Mills. “In six months, who knows, we could be in a geographical location somewhere near there.”
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