News: Red Dragon 2014
Story by Sgt. Ronald A. Reeves
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - The 318th Chemical Company from Birmingham, Alabama, gathered after dawn in the vast woodlands of Fort McCoy while waiting for a simulated decontamination task to be evaluated during the Red Dragon 14 training exercise.
The 335th Signal Command (Theater) from East Point, Georgia, provides command oversight of Red Dragon. This annual training exercise tests the capabilities of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) units in real world simulations and graded exercises. The 415th CBRN Brigade from Greenville, South Carolina provides command and control of the actual training.
A chemical decontamination company is a mobile element along with reconnaissance Soldiers, thereby coining the term “Recon-Decon”, a phrase commonly heard from its Soldiers. Their purpose is removing enough contamination thus allowing Soldiers to sustain operations in accordance with the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-101.
Chemical specialists (74D) are responsible for defending the country against the treat of CBRN weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Spc. Tomeka Reynolds, a chemical specialist with the 318th Chemical Company, and a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, said “Agents used by the enemy can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea and fever.” Ultimately this could result in disabling an entire mission and possibly even causing death to its Soldiers.
Reynolds and her team members sprang into action when the first vehicle entered the decontamination area during the unit's graded exercise. Donned in mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear, the Soldiers sprayed high-pressure streams onto the tactical vehicle so it could continue onward and complete another mission depending on the next exercise scenario.
“We had some issues with hoses from the sprayer, but got things operational just in time as a Humvee came down the trail,” said Spc. Everett McAboy another chemical specialist from York, Alabama. One could sense the pride and relief these Soldiers felt during and after completing this task.
Once those Soldiers were decontaminated, they drove the Humvee toward the high-pressure washer located in the bed of a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV). Army guidance directs that a minimum of 550 gallons of water per vehicle is used during a thorough decontamination which can vary according to the size of the vehicle.
“We work as a team and are a small unit so we get to know each other pretty well. What helps motivate us is knowing that we could have a real effect on combat troops and get them back in the fight quicker should a CBRN attack come from an enemy. We stay pretty motivated,” said Spc. Frederick Castro, a native of Huntsville, Alabama.