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.”