Fully Covered: 1st MLG conducts CBRN training during Steel Knight 2019

1st Marine Logistics Group
Story by 1st Lt. Maria Arnone

Date: 12.07.2018
Posted: 01.02.2019 11:54
News ID: 306074

The Marines in the 1st Marine Logistics Group’s training area tightened down their hoods and pulled on their gloves as they confirmed that they were in Mission-Oriented Protection Posture (MOPP) level 4. This highest level of MOPP entails full body coverage—with boots, pants, jackets, hoods, gloves and gas masks— to protect from possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. This was the MOPP level 1st MLG trained in during their field exercise supporting Steel Knight 2019 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Just as the full MOPP suit covers every inch of the individual wearing it, 1st MLG’s CBRN platoon ensured full, comprehensive CBRN training for the roughly 350 Marines and Sailors in the field.

“We wanted to simulate a real-world CBRN scenario to train our CBRN Marines and the 1st MLG Marines and staff to enable them to train and conduct operations while under a [simulated] CBRN threat,” said Master Sgt. James McCarty, CBRN operations coordinator with 1st MLG.

In most cases, Marines are required to complete CBRN training requirements every two years, the pinnacle of the training being to enter a gas chamber in MOPP 4 and spend a small duration of time in the chamber before exiting and completing the training until the next requirement period.

The CBRN Marines of 1st MLG wanted to improve upon this requirement to enhance the readiness across the unit by creating more realistic conditions.

“We began planning this CBRN scenario at the initial planning stages of the exercise. Our intent was to incorporate as many elements of the MLG to simulate what would really happen if we were in an operational environment and encountered a CBRN threat,” said McCarty.

The training began when 1st MLG arrived at the field. The CBRN platoon handed each Marine and Sailor a MOPP suit, and individually provided a refresher class how to use it.

“Passing out the MOPP suits and having the opportunity to individually ensure each Marine and Sailor, at every level or rank, was familiar with how to wear the suit and understood the different MOPP levels was very important,” said Sgt. Nicholas Greenisen, CBRN defense specialist with 1st MLG.

During the exercise, at an unknown time, a simulated CBRN threat was announced, and the elevation of MOPP levels ensued.

“The simulated CBRN threat created unknown variables, which caused the Marines and Sailors to react under more stressful, realistic conditions,” said Greenisen. “The training scenario we created had a build-up of events that required training from all levels and sections of the staff to include intelligence updates, site surveys and threat identification.”

While the Marines and Sailors were protected in MOPP 4, coordinating simulated logistics movements for water, activating and manning decontamination sites and keeping command and control to communicate the status of the threat, the CBRN Marines assessed the threat.

“We designed this portion of the training to incorporate all the elements of 1st MLG to perform the tasks and planning that would actually take place during a real CBRN threat,” said McCarty.

The following day the training continued. The CBRN platoon displayed the spectrum of detection equipment, from level one, which uses paper to detect contaminants to level three, which can provide confirmatory analysis of chemicals in a field environment. The Marines and Sailors were able to see all the equipment and testing tools with explanations provided by the CBRN Marines.

“The more everyone at 1st MLG can understand the equipment and how it’s used, it helps everyone to execute a plan more effectively when a CBRN threat is part of the scenario,” said Lance Cpl. Lucas Smith-Elliot, a CBRN defense specialist with 1st MLG.

The CBRN Marines then proceeded to further their own internal training, by practicing decontaminating a vehicle and exchanging MOPP suits in a simulated contaminated environment.

“Getting repetitions of actually decontaminating a vehicle and executing MOPP exchange allows us to see what we’ve learned in a classroom environment actually being done. We can refine our procedures and become more efficient with decontamination,” said Smith-Elliot.

The training conducted during 1st MLG’s time in the field for Steel Knight 2019 not only provided a thorough training experience for the Marines and Sailors, but it also prepared the CBRN platoon for upcoming training and exercises where they will face more complex CBRN scenarios.

“The CBRN training conducted during this exercise helped everyone at every level understand the impacts a CBRN threat creates. Practicing operating in different MOPP levels gets everyone familiar with realistic conditions they could possibly see during a CBRN threat and how to handle them, which will increase readiness of the 1st MLG and let us do our jobs no matter what the situation is,” said Greenisen.