News: Air Cav undertakes chemical training
Story by Sgt. Alun Thomas
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — For a brief moment it appeared heavy snow had taken a Christmas- like effect at one of the many desolate scrap yards, here.
On further reflection it turned out to be copious amounts of foam, used for containing chemicals during an attack.
The safety foam was part of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training held by the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Dec. 22, to refresh basic skills for Soldiers trained in the chemical field.
"The purpose of the training was to give the Soldiers realistic CBRN scenarios that are driven to support the Air Cav.," said Capt. Charles Penn, from Union Springs, Ala., the brigade's chemical officer. "The most important thing we're trying to get from this training is the reality of it."
The training took a walk, crawl, run method, Penn said, where classroom-based training was utilized before conducting an actual physical exercise.
"The tools we learned in the class were applied to three realistic scenarios using a foam type agent," Penn said. "Instead of using the actual decontamination solution itself, we used a training aid similar to the solution which decontaminates structures and terrain."
Penn said the training was successfully handled by the Soldiers participating, who easily mastered the use of the safety foam.
"The Soldiers were excited to get to the hands-on portion and their morale definitely increased," Penn said. "This [CBRN] is a perishable skill and being in an aviation brigade, CBRN is a skill we don't want to lose ... we want to adhere to conducting refresher training at least annually."
Taking part in the training was Spc. Wilson McMullan, from Corpus Christie, Texas, who said the training was valuable for those in a chemical military occupational specialty.
"This training is something you don't get much in an aviation unit and it's good to get out here and do it," McMullan said. "It helps you train for the best and train for the worst."
McMullan said he was unfamiliar with the safety foam techniques used in the training and was grateful to learn something new.
"The hands-on training was fantastic and it's the best way to learn," McMullan said. "The fire foam we used is capable of killing biological contaminants and has a shelf life of up to eight hours, while the chemical [foam] contaminant has 12 hours of shelf life."
Spraying the foam on to derelict buildings and vehicles in the scrap yard made for an enjoyable training experience, McMullan said.
"It wasn't just good training, it was fun training," he said. "Every little chance I can get, even if it's as small as possible, I'll take all the training I can."