News: Red Dragons complete HAZMAT recon exercise at Yakima Training Center
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – Soldiers from 3rd Platoon (Hazardous Response Platoon), 172nd Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Battalion conducted hazardous material reconnaissance exercises May 7 at Yakima Training Center, Wash., with supervision by observer/controllers from Civil Support Training Activity, U.S. Army North.
The unit trained on clearing a warehouse suspected of providing contaminated food to a local restaurant. Events like this are examples of what 3rd Platoon may face if called for a real-world mission.
“It benefits everybody because it’s realistic. Usually everything is simulated so when we come out here and get to work with civilians you get to see how your training relates to the outside community,” Staff Sgt. Ebony McKinney, operations non-commissioned officer for 3rd Platoon, 172nd Chem. Co., 2nd CBRN BTN said. “Working with the civilians on this type of training you can see how your schooling is actually being used.”
Their civilian counterparts from Civil Support Training Activity, U.S. Army North provide a wealth of real-world knowledge according to 1st Lt. Keith Myers, a Los Angeles native and Platoon Leader assigned to 3rd Platoon, 172nd Chem. Co., 2nd CBRN BTN.
“We’ve never had that high of a level of experience behind us and unlike in an infantry unit, where the sergeant first class has been doing his job for 20 years, none of my guys have done a real life operation,” he said. “To meet people who have done real life ops is really beneficial.”
Although they are experienced, Operations Evaluations Analyst and Deputy Team Chief from CSTA Larry Ritter said that the level of involvement is new for his team as well.
“This is the first time that we’re actually teaching methods, tactics, techniques and procedures in order for them to assume this consequence management mission,” Ritter said. “It informs the soldiers about certain aspects of the job.”
The opportunity to partner with civilians gives the platoon an advantage in its mission.
“It benefits us a lot that the schools we attend are being taught by civilians,” McKinney said. “A lot of times the military has a one-track mind as to how we’re going to do things, but working with the civilians they deal with this stuff every day. We don’t see chemicals every day in Iraq.”
The CTSA team strives to provide scenarios that are as realistic as possible, said Myers.
“Normally when we train just us it’s buddy-buddy and I’m right there and their sergeant is right there. This is a new environment,” Myers said. “It makes them feel like they’re in a real life situation and that’s what these guys can provide to us.”
Spc. Walter Hanks, a St. Louis, Mo., native, assigned to 3rd Platoon, 172nd Chemical Co., 2nd CBRN BTN, said the scenarios benefit the unit’s readiness.
“We can be called up anywhere within a five-state radius for a mission,” Hanks said. “As an HRP Platoon, we love this stuff.”
Although 3rd Platoon is better prepared as a result of their training, according to McKinney, a chemical soldier’s work is never done
“Once you’re certified, as long as you keep training and keep the experience, you’re always going to learn something. It’s never the same situation,” McKinney said. “There’s always something different. You’re always learning.”
Date Posted:05.09.2011 18:33
Location:YAKIMA, WA, US
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