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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

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2ND BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Tactical fitness, countermobility training

Bright and early at 5 a.m. on a cool morning, April 18, Soldiers were called to their company. They were told to arrive promptly in uniform, with their gear fully packed, ready and set to go.

Once they arrived the Soldiers would endure a road march followed by hours of intense training out in the back 40 of Fort Campbell.

The Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trained to improve their tactical fitness, countermobility and survivability.

Training such as this is conducted weekly to further ensure that 39th BEB’s combat engineers remain efficient in their infantry skills.

“Today we started with a four-mile ruck march with full kit and a 30-pound ruck,” said 2nd Lt. Garrett Bridenbaugh, engineer officer and platoon leader in A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We then proceeded out to the training site to build countermobility obstacles.  Today we focused on the triple-strand concertina wire obstacle and the 11-row obstacle, we also went through survivability positions and fox holes.”

Concertina wire is a type of razor wire that is formed into large coils that can be expanded like a concertina or accordion.

The triple-strand concertina wire obstacle, constructed by combat engineers, consists of two rolls of concertina wire side-by-side on the bottom with one roll of wire on top, like a pyramid, secured with additional wire to prevent crushing. It is designed to slow or stop personnel and small-wheeled vehicles.

The 11-row obstacle consists of 11 rows of concertina wire laid parallel to each other on the ground and are anchored with pickets. This is used to hold back and slow down incoming enemy personnel and even tanks.

“We are enablers of the infantry,” Bridenbaugh said. “We set up the defensive area for them as well as fight alongside them. The training we did today is significantly important because the platoon needs to understand their roles as well as everyone else’s role from the lowest to the highest-ranking Soldier. We also did this training to beat the standard. The engineer planning factors and tools doctrine gives us a time standard on how quickly the obstacles are to be set up, but we aim to be faster and exceed the standard. The faster we can build these obstacles, the better advantage we have for defense.”

A combat engineer is a Soldier who performs a variety of different demolition and constructional tasks while under combat conditions. Their mission is to assist other military personnel when taking on rough terrain in combat. They provide expertise in areas such as mobility, countermobility, survivability and general engineering.

As companies continue to grow in strength with personnel, for some of the newest Soldiers this was their first hands-on training experience with 39th BEB after advanced individual training.

“Today went well,” said Pvt. Tristan Cooper, combat engineer with A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We worked together as a team and it got done faster than I’ve ever seen it competed in [advanced individual training]. I got hands-on learning for the triple-strand, 11 row and foxholes. It was a good day.”

It is important to conduct weekly and monthly hands-on training during which Soldiers execute their skills, which increases information retention while setting the standard.

“The importance of this is to get the Sapper squad to become more efficient in constructing the obstacles and understand the standards,” said Sgt. Jose Acosta, combat engineer and squad leader, A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We only teach the standard, right? Therefore, we expect them to be more effective in their work.”

The Soldiers of 39th BEB learned how to construct some of the most effective countermobility defense obstacles as well as how to work as a cohesive unit.

“The more training we are able to do like this, the closer our platoon becomes,” Bridenbaugh said. “The more esprit de corps we have the more comradery we can build. The Soldiers love to come out and train. We try and get as much training out of it as we possibly can and just try to have fun while doing as much work as possible.”

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3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Chemical training

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s chemical reconnaissance platoon, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently trained to respond to a Level-A Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear incident as part of the unit’s ongoing platoon Military Operations in Urban Terrain training.

On Jan. 31, Soldiers from C Company conducted room-clearing operations after one of their squads was “killed” by a chemical agent. Putting on their gas masks, the unit then called in for support from the chemical reconnaissance platoon. Donning gas masks to prevent further casualties, they continued to clear buildings and provide security.

Sergeant Robin Hood, a signal noncommissioned officer with C Co., 21st BEB, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said CBRN training is a great opportunity to train his squad on tactics they might face in real world situations.

“We have a high operational tempo in our company, so we’re always on mission doing comms for our brigade and battalion,” Hood said.   “We don’t get a chance to do these Soldier skills normally, so it’s a good refresher and good training for these guys, since we have a lot of new guys in the unit.”

Once on site, 1st Lt Connor Pearce, the platoon leader, and Sgt. Nico Valencia, the initial entry team leader, geared up in Level-A hazardous material suits, complete with oxygen tanks. Heading into the building, they measured for radiation levels, composition of the air and conducted tests on the lab where the chemical agent was set up to determine how to dispose of it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Pearce said. “There’s always an adventure factor. Getting into the suit, going into a situation where you have no idea what’s going on at all. There’s hazards associated with it, so it’s fun to get into the suit and figure out the unknown.”

Captain Spencer Hunt, a chemical officer with the 101st Airborne Division CBRN cell, said the training allows the members of the chemical reconnaissance platoon to get an idea of what they might see in a real CBRN situation, from dealing with a production site to storage and transport areas.

“It helps them see what it would look like in real life,” Hunt said. “It would look pretty much like that, a production center set in a room somewhere, or a storage facility, or collection site.”

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3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Chemical training

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s chemical reconnaissance platoon, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently trained to respond to a Level-A Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear incident as part of the unit’s ongoing platoon Military Operations in Urban Terrain training.

On Jan. 31, Soldiers from C Company conducted room-clearing operations after one of their squads was “killed” by a chemical agent. Putting on their gas masks, the unit then called in for support from the chemical reconnaissance platoon. Donning gas masks to prevent further casualties, they continued to clear buildings and provide security.

Sergeant Robin Hood, a signal noncommissioned officer with C Co., 21st BEB, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said CBRN training is a great opportunity to train his squad on tactics they might face in real world situations.

“We have a high operational tempo in our company, so we’re always on mission doing comms for our brigade and battalion,” Hood said.   “We don’t get a chance to do these Soldier skills normally, so it’s a good refresher and good training for these guys, since we have a lot of new guys in the unit.”

Once on site, 1st Lt Connor Pearce, the platoon leader, and Sgt. Nico Valencia, the initial entry team leader, geared up in Level-A hazardous material suits, complete with oxygen tanks. Heading into the building, they measured for radiation levels, composition of the air and conducted tests on the lab where the chemical agent was set up to determine how to dispose of it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Pearce said. “There’s always an adventure factor. Getting into the suit, going into a situation where you have no idea what’s going on at all. There’s hazards associated with it, so it’s fun to get into the suit and figure out the unknown.”

Captain Spencer Hunt, a chemical officer with the 101st Airborne Division CBRN cell, said the training allows the members of the chemical reconnaissance platoon to get an idea of what they might see in a real CBRN situation, from dealing with a production site to storage and transport areas.

“It helps them see what it would look like in real life,” Hunt said. “It would look pretty much like that, a production center set in a room somewhere, or a storage facility, or collection site.”

0

3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Chemical training

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s chemical reconnaissance platoon, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently trained to respond to a Level-A Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear incident as part of the unit’s ongoing platoon Military Operations in Urban Terrain training.

On Jan. 31, Soldiers from C Company conducted room-clearing operations after one of their squads was “killed” by a chemical agent. Putting on their gas masks, the unit then called in for support from the chemical reconnaissance platoon. Donning gas masks to prevent further casualties, they continued to clear buildings and provide security.

Sergeant Robin Hood, a signal noncommissioned officer with C Co., 21st BEB, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said CBRN training is a great opportunity to train his squad on tactics they might face in real world situations.

“We have a high operational tempo in our company, so we’re always on mission doing comms for our brigade and battalion,” Hood said.   “We don’t get a chance to do these Soldier skills normally, so it’s a good refresher and good training for these guys, since we have a lot of new guys in the unit.”

Once on site, 1st Lt Connor Pearce, the platoon leader, and Sgt. Nico Valencia, the initial entry team leader, geared up in Level-A hazardous material suits, complete with oxygen tanks. Heading into the building, they measured for radiation levels, composition of the air and conducted tests on the lab where the chemical agent was set up to determine how to dispose of it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Pearce said. “There’s always an adventure factor. Getting into the suit, going into a situation where you have no idea what’s going on at all. There’s hazards associated with it, so it’s fun to get into the suit and figure out the unknown.”

Captain Spencer Hunt, a chemical officer with the 101st Airborne Division CBRN cell, said the training allows the members of the chemical reconnaissance platoon to get an idea of what they might see in a real CBRN situation, from dealing with a production site to storage and transport areas.

“It helps them see what it would look like in real life,” Hunt said. “It would look pretty much like that, a production center set in a room somewhere, or a storage facility, or collection site.”

0

3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Chemical training

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s chemical reconnaissance platoon, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently trained to respond to a Level-A Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear incident as part of the unit’s ongoing platoon Military Operations in Urban Terrain training.

On Jan. 31, Soldiers from C Company conducted room-clearing operations after one of their squads was “killed” by a chemical agent. Putting on their gas masks, the unit then called in for support from the chemical reconnaissance platoon. Donning gas masks to prevent further casualties, they continued to clear buildings and provide security.

Sergeant Robin Hood, a signal noncommissioned officer with C Co., 21st BEB, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said CBRN training is a great opportunity to train his squad on tactics they might face in real world situations.

“We have a high operational tempo in our company, so we’re always on mission doing comms for our brigade and battalion,” Hood said.   “We don’t get a chance to do these Soldier skills normally, so it’s a good refresher and good training for these guys, since we have a lot of new guys in the unit.”

Once on site, 1st Lt Connor Pearce, the platoon leader, and Sgt. Nico Valencia, the initial entry team leader, geared up in Level-A hazardous material suits, complete with oxygen tanks. Heading into the building, they measured for radiation levels, composition of the air and conducted tests on the lab where the chemical agent was set up to determine how to dispose of it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Pearce said. “There’s always an adventure factor. Getting into the suit, going into a situation where you have no idea what’s going on at all. There’s hazards associated with it, so it’s fun to get into the suit and figure out the unknown.”

Captain Spencer Hunt, a chemical officer with the 101st Airborne Division CBRN cell, said the training allows the members of the chemical reconnaissance platoon to get an idea of what they might see in a real CBRN situation, from dealing with a production site to storage and transport areas.

“It helps them see what it would look like in real life,” Hunt said. “It would look pretty much like that, a production center set in a room somewhere, or a storage facility, or collection site.”

0

3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Chemical training

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s chemical reconnaissance platoon, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, recently trained to respond to a Level-A Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear incident as part of the unit’s ongoing platoon Military Operations in Urban Terrain training.

On Jan. 31, Soldiers from C Company conducted room-clearing operations after one of their squads was “killed” by a chemical agent. Putting on their gas masks, the unit then called in for support from the chemical reconnaissance platoon. Donning gas masks to prevent further casualties, they continued to clear buildings and provide security.

Sergeant Robin Hood, a signal noncommissioned officer with C Co., 21st BEB, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said CBRN training is a great opportunity to train his squad on tactics they might face in real world situations.

“We have a high operational tempo in our company, so we’re always on mission doing comms for our brigade and battalion,” Hood said.   “We don’t get a chance to do these Soldier skills normally, so it’s a good refresher and good training for these guys, since we have a lot of new guys in the unit.”

Once on site, 1st Lt Connor Pearce, the platoon leader, and Sgt. Nico Valencia, the initial entry team leader, geared up in Level-A hazardous material suits, complete with oxygen tanks. Heading into the building, they measured for radiation levels, composition of the air and conducted tests on the lab where the chemical agent was set up to determine how to dispose of it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Pearce said. “There’s always an adventure factor. Getting into the suit, going into a situation where you have no idea what’s going on at all. There’s hazards associated with it, so it’s fun to get into the suit and figure out the unknown.”

Captain Spencer Hunt, a chemical officer with the 101st Airborne Division CBRN cell, said the training allows the members of the chemical reconnaissance platoon to get an idea of what they might see in a real CBRN situation, from dealing with a production site to storage and transport areas.

“It helps them see what it would look like in real life,” Hunt said. “It would look pretty much like that, a production center set in a room somewhere, or a storage facility, or collection site.”