FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Four Army Reserve Chemical Corps detachments have come together to take part in multiple training exercises aligned with the 86th Training Division's Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) held Aug 19, 2015.
The 490th Chemical Battalion, Anniston, Alabama, is the main Chemical Corps organization situated here in CSTX, while its subordinate units are the 320th Chemical Company from Fort Totten, New York, the 411th Chemical Company from Edison, New Jersey, and the 334th Chemical Company from Marysville, Washington.
Spc. Isae Rodriguez, a chemical operations specialist with the 334th Chemical Battalion, Marysville, Wash., adjusts the camera of the Biological Integrated Detection System prior to operational use Aug. 19 during the Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) at Fort McCoy, Wis. The training replicates real-world missions which develops the units' abilities to successfully plan, prepare, and provide combat service support. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher A. Hernandez, 345th Public Affairs Detachment)
“We've also brought in units across the United States, including some from the National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Hui Chae Kim, commander of the 490th Chemical Battalion. “We've thus formed Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN), and designated our teams as reconnaissance, biological surveillance, and decontamination teams."
“We've set the conditions for a great training exercise, and the morale is high for Soldiers in the [CBRN] units,” Kim added.
The commanders of their respective CBRN units have also outlined a number of goals and expectations from their Soldiers during the CSTX.
“We're here not only to conduct our training, but to do it safely as well,” said 1st. Lt. Joshua Donaldson, interim commander of the 334th Chemical Company. “Our goal is to get as much out of this exercise as possible and utilize all of the assets available to us.”
One of the major components of CBRN operations is biological surveillance, which is done utilizing a state-of-the-art, transportable platform known as the Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS).
“The BIDS is the heart of our system,” said Donaldson. “It draws samples from the air and detects biological agents of all kinds."
“Once it gets a hit, the BIDS will draw the sample out, the sample gets securely packaged, we get it ready for transfer and transport, process the documentation for it, take it to a sample transfer point, do a change of custody, and then hand the sample over so it can go to a lab for analysis,” Donaldson continued.
Donaldson stressed it's important that CBRN personnel — regardless of their specified role in any mission — remain proactive and be ready to act at all times.
“Our motto is ‘We Detect to Treat,' so if we do get a positive hit, we'll notify medical staff and they'll start taking measures to treat whatever agent was detected in the atmosphere,” said Donaldson.
Routine operations of biological surveillance with BIDS usually require at least four Soldiers at any given time.
“We usually have two Soldiers enclosed inside the BIDS and a Humvee support vehicle with two more Soldiers who stand by and act as eyes and ears for them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Gosnell, a CBRN specialist with the 320th Chemical Company.
The other essential parts of CBRN are the multiple types of reconnaissance missions designed to immediately detect any contaminated areas, secure and blockade those areas, and then begin the thorough decontamination process.
“Thorough decontamination is simply a complete wash of all vehicles and personnel,” said Gosnell. “Meanwhile, the reconnaissance teams we have typically do area, route, and point types of reconnaissance."
“For example, the recon teams would come across a disabled vehicle suspected of contamination, then they secure the area and decontaminate it with their test kits and all of the other equipment that they have,” Gosnell explained.
These meticulous steps are taken so that friendly forces can navigate through their routes as quickly and safely as possible.
“We are ensuring area security to support freedom of maneuverability,” added Kim.
Lastly, the CBRN specialists who administered the appropriate treatment must go through a thorough decontamination process themselves.
“When we come back from decontamination missions, we go through various stations such as removing all of our gear and receiving a warm, cleansing shower,” said Spc. Adrian Martinez, a CBRN specialist with the 307th Chemical Company, Bell, California.
Overall, CSTX and its training events has been a positive experience for the CBRN specialists taking part of it.
“CSTX has been a great training opportunity for Soldiers within the CBRN community and we're ready, resilient and our Soldiers have been empowered to provide commanders and their peers the enablers for unified land operations,” Kim said.
The chemical units began their training exercise here Aug. 7, with the majority of these units finishing their training events through Aug. 28 during CSTX.
CSTX is a multi-component and joint endeavor which is aligned with other reserve component exercises including Diamond Saber, Trans Warrior and Exportable Combat Training Capability.
By U.S. Army 345th Public Affairs
Provided through DVIDS
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