FORT HOOD, Texas – Chemical attacks are often thought of as a thing of the past, however the threat is real and remains imminent at all times. In the event of a potential disaster, soldiers with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade are ensuring troops are more ready than ever to defend themselves against an attack.
To achieve this goal the 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, hosted a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Rodeo for hundreds of soldiers here, Feb. 11 to 13.
During the event, Warriors were required to complete a series of stations designed to stress and confirm their CBRN equipment confidence and demonstrate they are able to react appropriately and effectively in a contaminated environment.
“We’re building soldiers' confidence today,” said Capt. Courtney Zimmerman, chemical brigade officer with the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, and Grant, Mich. native. “Soldiers will learn the processes and procedures for their (Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology), while also gaining trust that it will keep them safe in a chemical environment.”
Stations at the rodeo included decontamination using DECON kits, reacting to chemical or biological hazards and attacks, marking CBRN contaminated areas, detecting chemical agents using M8/M9 detector paper, protecting from CBRN injury using the JLIST, and protecting using an assigned mask.
“Today’s event is beneficial in many ways,” Zimmerman explained. “Soldiers often forget how serious chemical attacks are, as they seldom have the opportunity to receive in-depth CBRN training. This rodeo assists to not only sharpen their skills, but also the skills of our CBRN specialists running the event.”
Sgt. Darius Fletcher, from Memphis, Tenn., a CBRN specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, said the training helped validate his skill set, while developing the confidence of Warriors within 1st ACB.
“We put the soldiers through three exercises in the gas chamber,” Fletcher said. “I first have them perform movement drills with the mask on, then break the seal and reseal their mask, and finally take their mask off while opening their eyes and speaking. Soldiers quickly learn how valuable their mask’s protection really is.”
Although the training isn’t physically demanding, the mental challenge of entering and completing the gas chamber, and the confidence soldiers gain in doing so, makes the training imperative, Fletcher said.
“These soldiers now know what CS gas feels like,” Fletcher said.
“They’ll know what to expect and will be ready to don their mask in the allotted eight to nine seconds if they enter a contaminated environment. We need more training like this.”