MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.—U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) training at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 30, 2017.
The training was conducted as part of the pre-deployment training program (PTP) requirements for every Marine prior to the 26th MEU’s upcoming deployment at sea. The main element of the training consisted of Marines traversing an obstacle course in various levels of protective equipment as they were exposed without warning to chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS) gas.
“We’re here at the base gas chamber to conduct protective gear confidence exercises,” said Cpl. Dakota C. Todd, a CBRN defense specialist with the 26th MEU. “We need to make sure the Marines are familiar with donning and clearing their gas masks, as well as their Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear.”
The training consisted of several classes on the various types of CBRN agents and effects on the human body, decontamination procedures and usage of the protective equipment. The practical application was unlike the traditional gas chamber as it was conducted in an open-air environment without warning or instruction. To avoid pain, Marines had to calmly apply what they just learned.
“Compared to the gas chamber that I participated in during recruit training, this training was way different,” said Sgt. D’Andre L. Thompson, an administrative specialist with the 26th MEU. “It gives you a more detail-oriented, real life scenario of what may happen in today’s chemical and biological warfare.”
The distinct ability of amphibious forces to gain access to critical areas anywhere in the world with ground, air and logistics forces enables the Navy-Marine Corps team to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible. A CBRN attack can happen anywhere and in any environment, so the training is vital for amphibious forces.
“The adrenaline rush hit me as soon as we started the trail,” said Thompson. “I was anticipating the gas the entire time but you don’t know when the gas will actually hit you until you see it or even worse feel it.”
The mission of CBRN defense specialists is to ensure their unit is trained and ready to survive and operate in a contaminated environment, according to the Marine Corps Training and Education Command website.
“The Marine Corps requires a CBRN qualification six months prior to deployment,” said Todd. “This training ensures the Marines are able to continue the mission in a CBRN environment with the protective gear and its limits in movement and vision.”
The 26th MEU is currently preparing for Composite Training Unit Exercise, its final pre-deployment training exercise prior to an upcoming deployment at sea. MEUs operate continuously across the globe and provide the President of the United States and the unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, flexible and responsive sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force. Always ready when the nation is least ready.
Story by Cpl. Jered Stone