News: CBRN Recon Platoon gets dirty
Story by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Two M1135 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance vehicles rolled out of the 1st Special Troops Battalion motorpool on Camp Buehring, Aug. 27, determined to identify an unseen hazard.
During a three hour mission, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear recon platoon identified, marked, contained and informed their command of the imminent threat posed by a hypothetical chemical attack.
As the eight wheels of the NBCRV churned the sand of the Camp Buehring desert, a Humvee followed closely behind to observe the team’s actions.
“The CBRN reconnaissance platoon is the eyes and ears for the brigade commander with respect to CBRN threats,” said 1st Lt. Chris Sanchez, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear recon platoon leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
As Sanchez followed the NBCRV in his Humvee, he picked up the hand microphone to his radio and uttered the word that signals a chemical detection “Hit.” The Recon platoon sprang into action and began testing and sampling their surroundings to determine the threat.
“When we got the hit, I immediately told the driver to stop and got the grid coordinate to begin my NBC4 report (NBC reporting format) to describe to my higher headquarters where the contamination area was located,” said Staff Sgt. Harlinton Austin, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st STB.
An inaccurate report can cost Soldiers their lives, Austin said.
World War I saw the first use of chemical weapons when French Soldiers fired tear-gas grenades against the Germans in August 1914.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the delivery capabilities of 75, accurately fired, 155 mm chemical artillery rounds, under calm winds, can contaminate an 1100-foot radius with the chemicals inside, resulting in many casualties from an unseen enemy.
The team of CBRN specialists trained and prepared for this moment, and responded to the threat by sampling the soil and marking the contaminated areas.
“It’s my job to use the glove port on the Stryker to collect a sample that fills the vial two thirds of the way so it can be tested to accurately identify the potential hazard,” said Sgt. Teresa Shattuck, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1STB. The NBCRV is one of nine configurations of the Infantry Carrier Vehicle variant of the Stryker family of vehicles.
Chemical, biological and radiological sensors and communications devices are integrated with the Stryker vehicle to perform CBRN detection, identification, marking, sampling and reporting of these hazards, according to the Army Programs NBCRV pamphlet.
“I trained for a year on the M93A1 Fox Reconnaissance Vehicle before I began using the Stryker CBRN platform that centrally locates all the systems I need to perform my tasks while in the surveyor seat,” said Shattuck.
Shattuck and the CBRN Recon Platoon spent the morning identifying and marking the hypothetical threat, before one of the vehicles got hit by a simulated rocket propelled grenade.
After the CBRN Recon Platoon responded to the RPG attack, Sanchez called an end to the exercise to discuss the platoon’s actions and conduct an after action review that concluded the CBRN Recon Platoon’s training for the day.