News: Cadre challenge cadets in chemical environment
Story by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti
FORT KNOX, Ky. – In today’s modern warfare, there is no literal front line. The enemy, often unseen, has developed unconventional ways to strike and counteract the military’s established defenses. A possible Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear attack is an increasing threat.
The U.S. Army has actively and continuously developed ways to counteract the eccentric means of the enemy, especially in reference to CBRN threats by improving its chemical gear and incorporating tailored training. The CBRN lane conducted during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., introduces the equipment, skills, and possible threat scenarios to cadets — the Army’s future leaders.
“This training is not just important to the cadets, but it’s important to the Army. Chemical threats are very real, so it’s important for them [cadets] to know and be proficient in the skills we teach here,” said Spc. Jairo Banegas, trainer, 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 104th Training Division. The battalion based out of Salem, Va., is tasked with conducting the CBRN lane and is assigned to Task Force Wolf in support of CST.
Cadets are broken down into squads and assigned a couple cadre members as their CBRN trainers. The cadre members go through each portion of the training with their squad of cadets. Each small group quickly took on their own personality led by their energetic cadre.
“Any opportunity to influence the cadets is a positive experience,” said Spc. Kettia Green, trainer, 2nd Bn., 319th Regt., Task Force Wolf. “The best part of this whole assignment is being able to empower future leaders.”
The relative training is customized to build the cadet’s confidence in their own skills and the equipment. The improved chemical gear — the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) — is a universal, lightweight, two-piece, front-opening suit that provides protection against chemical and biological agents, radioactive fallout particles, and battlefield contaminants.
“We try to make the training fun for the cadets but at the same time we teach them the skills. This is for them to learn how to don and clear the mask, learn how to put on the JSLIST in the standard nine minutes because they will use these skills in the near future,” Banegas said.
The cadets learn the basics of CBRN and the importance of the skills. A step-by-step comprehensive breakdown of the multiple parts of the JSLIST and protective mask supersedes the cadets practicing the correct procedures to don the gear and decontaminate themselves. Once they execute the methods fluidly, the cadre checks each cadet’s gear for proper wear and operability, and they line up to enter the CS gas chamber.
The CS gas chamber is a room that has a controlled concentration of tear gas. In the chamber, the cadre instructs the cadets to take off their mask and ask them a few basic questions. The purpose of the experience is to ensure they can identify the foreign substance and have the practice of functioning through the uncomfortable situation — guaranteeing they can properly clear the protective mask.
“Learning how to use the gear properly is the first part, the chamber makes the threat real. It shows the cadets that the equipment actually works. Taking off the mask and experiencing the effects of the gas is very important to the learning process. That’s the part that shows them the gear actually works,” Banegas said.
After the chamber, the cadets rehearse their newly acquired CBRN skills before being assessed on the CBRN squad lane, the culminating event of the training that tests the cadets on all the tactics learned.
“I love the lanes. I like teaching them all the tactics. On the lanes, they put all the skills learned here together to maneuver and be successful in a possible CBRN environment,” Banegas said.
Due to the cadets being broken down into smaller groups, the cadre can take their time to ensure their assigned cadets are proficient in the skills taught.
“We train to standard, not to time,” said Banegas. “This is to inform, train, and equip these future leaders with CBRN skills they will need.”