FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) specialist – also known as a “seventy-four delta” – is a long and complicated name for an equally time-intensive and involved career field. These highly-trained soldiers are able to identify bomb-making materials and recognize different types of ordnance, all while collecting intelligence to help identify the bomb-maker and ultimately lead to his capture.
These soldiers work closely with Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, who neutralize the threat after the fact. These brave souls scan areas to detect hidden or buried explosives and remove them from the scene before causing harm to troops or local civilians.
These specialties combine to make a CBRNE Response Team, consisting of 12 CBRNE specialists and 3 EOD technicians. A CBRNE situation usually involves some sort of explosive, which explains the team members’ overlapping capabilities, said Staff Sgt. Travis Owens, 722nd Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 20th Support Command. “Responding to a CBRNE threat is a combined effort.”
Soldiers assigned to 20th SUPCOM’s subordinate units traveled to Fort Bragg, N.C., from bases across the country to demonstrate these capabilities prior to supporting 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division’s Joint Operational Access Exercise, Feb. 27-March 9. Leadership from Forces Command, XVIII Airborne Corps, and 82nd Abn. Div. attended the demonstration, Feb. 21, where they learned about these specialized skill sets and how the unit can support the Global Response Force mission. Following a presentation explaining the structure of 20th SUPCOM, the very knowledgeable soldiers showed off their equipment and skills to exhibit the advantages of having these specialties at the ready for a no-notice GRF mission.
“The CRT is a force multiplier for 2BCT and the GRF as a whole,” said Lt. Col. Jay Land, 20th SUPCOM team chief. While the brigade has internal CBRNE assets, they can quickly be overwhelmed without outside support, Land added. It’s important to have a reserve to help handle the problem as it grows and gives the commander flexibility to use his assets as he sees fit.
“Having our CRT there gives the brigade the capability to do some cross-level training. The GRF is trained (on CBRNE) to a certain level of proficiency, but the CRT does this 24/7,” said Land. Cross training will enhance brigade paratroopers’ aptitude on these possibly life-saving skills.
All soldiers receive basic CBRNE training upon entering the Army, like how to don protective equipment, but these skills are easily diminished without recurring training. “This stuff could kill you,” said Spc. Matthew Mullinax, CRT sample team member, 9th Chemical Company, 110th Chemical Battalion, 20th SUPCOM, Fort Lewis, Wash. “Learning how to put your suit on and the capabilities of your protective mask; those skills are essential,” Mullinax said.
Maj. Gen. John Nicholson, 82nd Abn. Div. commanding general, reiterated the importance of continued CBRNE training for his Paratroopers and how it will benefit them as they maintain the role of America’s GRF. After more than a decade fighting the War on Terror, it is important to maintain a high level of proficiency as the Army refocuses on the global response mission, Nicholson said. “This training [with 20th SUPCOM] is very beneficial to us,” he added. “We need to step out of our comfort zone and learn these new skills.”