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1st Air Cavalry prepares for chemical attacks

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 4:30 am

Chemical attacks are often thought of as a thing of the past, however, the threat is real and remains imminent.

In the event of a potential disaster, soldiers with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, are ensuring troops are ready to defend themselves against an attack. To achieve this goal, the “Warrior” Brigade hosted a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Rodeo for hundreds of soldiers Feb. 11-13.

During the event, Warriors were required to complete a series of stations designed to stress and confirm 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 brigade’s 615th Aviation Support Battalion. “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 contaminated areas, detecting chemical agents using M-8/M-9 detector paper, protecting from injury using the protective suit and protecting using an assigned mask.

“Today’s event is beneficial in many ways,” Zimmerman said. “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, a CBRN specialist with the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, said the training helped validate his skill set, while developing the confidence of Warriors within the brigade.

“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.”

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,” he said. “They’ll know what to expect and will be ready.”

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