News: Conference brings Pacific Northwest CBRNE units together
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers and agencies specializing in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive hazard response gathered for the 2012 Pacific Northwest CBRNE Conference, Sept. 5-7, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Hosted by the 110th Chemical Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, the theme this year was “CBRNE professionals, partnering for the future.”
The intent of the conference was to reach out and bring together all chemical soldiers, who are embedded in units on JBLM, to gather and celebrate the CBRNE Profession of Arms. The conference provided professional development briefs and capability displays of the CBRNE equipment and assets used by CBRNE Battalions on JBLM and around the Pacific Northwest.
“Our purpose is to bring together members of the federal, state, and local CBRNE Response Enterprise and other key stakeholders,” said Lt. Col. Daryl Hood, Commander of 110th CBRNE Bn.
Hood said the conference focus areas will include tactical level specialized CBRNE forces and specialized CBRNE force response equipment and technologies.
Another goal was to have Soldiers and representatives from CBRNE agencies meet face-to-face, to enhance the working relationships of the U.S. Army specialized technical CBRNE forces within other federal, state and local members of the CRE.
The 110th and 23rd Chemical battalions, both units of the 20th Support Command, partnered to set up hands-on CBRNE equipment displays.
The units demonstrated the latest gear available for chemical Soldiers including a Personnel Decontamination tent and a Stryker configured for CBRNE missions.
An M-26 Joint Service Transportable Decontamination System was set up to demonstrate use on vehicles. The M-26 functions much like a power washer designed to reach the nooks and crannies of the Army’s new, more complex vehicles, and decontaminate them quickly and efficiency.
Staff Sgt. Omarley Ritter, 110th Chemical Bn., recalled his experiences deployed as a CBRNE Soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“In 2003, I deployed with the 11th Chemical Company. We actually did decontamination missions and encountered hazardous materials that were making people sick. It was scary to finally see and conduct missions we had been training for. None of us on our team got sick, so it definitely boosted our confidence in our equipment,” Omarley said.
Omarley and Soldiers with 110th Chemical Bn. recently participated in a CBRNE training mission in Canada.
“It was a NATO mission with 12 different countries working with live agents, which is a big deal for us. Other than training at Fort Leonard Wood, we’ve never trained with radioactive materials or with real-world hazardous material,” Ritter said.
“The first time doing that was awesome; it validated the training we’d been doing up to that point to where we know we could do this in a real-world mission. All the other countries were coming to us as subject matter experts; it let us know that we’re still the best at what we do.”
Master Sgt. Kevin Leveille, a representative from Human Resource Command, spoke on the state of the CBRNE branch. He discussed topics relating to the branch including career progression, promotions and assignment opportunities. HRC Chemical Branch representatives gave updates for both officers and enlisted CBRNE Soldiers.
The conference was followed by the Pacific Northwest CBRNE “Green Dragon” Ball Sept. 7 at the Landmark Convention Center in Tacoma, Wash. The keynote speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. David Puig, 20th Support Command.
“These conferences will become a key to success, especially for upcoming [Defense Support of Civil Authorities] DSCA missions, where soldiers will be working directly with their federal and civilian CBRNE counterparts. It’s vital that we have these opportunities each year to come together and identify future collaboration and joint training opportunities,” Hood said.