Friday, April 18, 2008

Incident response service members train to keep al-Asad contaminate free

Cpl. Scott McAdam

AL-ASAD, Iraq (April 5, 2008) – Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons are all potential threats today’s war fighter could encounter. Fortunately, every branch of the U.S. military has service members charged with protecting the armed forces from these unconventional hazards.

To combat these threats, CBRN Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) host joint-service training with the Army aboard Al Asad Air Base, to increase the effectiveness of their incident response capabilities in Iraq.

During the training, the service members focused on refreshing their skills and using newer technologies.

“Because the threat in Iraq is more (from) toxic industrial chemicals than chemical warfare, we are familiarizing ourselves with new equipment and (standard operating procedure) to adjust to the threat,” said Sgt. Stefan Stelzenmueller, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives specialist, MWHS-3.

According to Army 1st Lt. Jared Young, CBRN officer, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, because his soldiers are not currently in a CBRN unit, the training had two advantages: the opportunity for hands-on experience and helping his soldiers refocus on their military occupational specialty.

“(The Marines) are great and allow us to use their equipment and facilities and coordinate with the instructors,” added Young, a Burley, Ind., native.

During the training, the Marines and soldiers set up a contamination scenario involving several chemicals in a simulated environment. The Marines and soldiers then tested the chemicals, took samples, and decontaminated.

Using a hazardous material identification system, the CBRN specialists can identify a substance within 99 percent accuracy.

According to Stelzenmueller, training the Army will allow the Base CBRN Marines the ability to draw on Army resources and manpower in the event of a large-scale contamination response.

“As far as my own Marines go, this (training) enhances our response capability exponentially,” added Stelzenmueller, a Portland, Ore. native.

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