CBRN Marines Complete Advanced Training
By Lance Cpl. Devan Barnett, Marine Corps Forces Reserves
TUNNEL HILL, GA --
Marines with Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Platoon, Combat Logistics Regiment 4, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, successfully completed their quarterly assessment and consequence management training at Volunteer Training Site, Catoosa, Ga., April 9, 2017.
The training events were part of a week-long exercise held April 2-9 that included clearing buildings on the side of hills, clearing underground tunnels and working with a Personnel Retrieval and Processing Platoon to prepare for any sort of unknown and potentially dangerous area.
“The CBRN platoon is used to go downrange in a contaminated environment whether it is chemical, biological, or radiological risks,” said Sgt. Travis Hille, a platoon sergeant with CBRN platoon, CLR-4. “We have those extra capabilities to enter these areas and get answers and complete the mission.”
A CBRN unit is attached to every major subordinate command in the Marine Corps, dealing with CBRN materials and locations. Training exercises like this help give the Marines practice and trust with their different suits and equipment.
“This gives us a lot of confidence.” said Cpl. Phillip Butler, a squad leader with CBRN platoon, CLR-4. “There is nothing like being in a suit downrange and having to communicate in the suits. All this training is about using our gear efficiently.”
The confidence given to each individual Marine allows them to work more efficiently in their small unit teams.
“We go downrange in three or four man teams clearing the way to the site and all around it,” said Butler. “This could be down in a valley, or up in a hill just to get to a building we haven’t been inside before as a small fire team.”
The CBRN platoon sends out waves of these small man teams for different parts of the mission. First, the Marines send out at least one reconnaissance team to scout the area and get documentation through photos and sketches giving the unit a general idea of the layout of the unknown area. Next, they send out sampling teams to assess what is causing the building or area to be unsafe to enter. Finally, the platoon sends out an extraction team for decontamination. This training allows Marines to advance their skills and remain ready and relevant to respond when the time comes.
“This ACM team is going to be in support of any type of mission,” said Master Sgt. Ian Stewart, the CBRN Chief of Marine Forces Reserve. “My job is to make sure these teams are trained, well equipped and ready to go forward when called upon.”
The training the CBRN Marines receive improves combat effectiveness in a wide range of operations.
“Current events drive our training scenarios,” said Stewart. “We have to integrate based on what is going on in the world and we try to set up real world scenarios that capture that. We have to make sure these teams are ready to go forward and face whatever threat is out there based on our area of operation.”
Acknowledging the potential for additional threats to surface while clearing the area, the CBRN Marines integrated other specialized Marines into training that would promote a more realistic and unique training experience.
Retired Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bobby Garza joined the Marines and shared knowledge he gained during his time working with explosive ordnance disposal.
“We came out here to provide some IED courses, whether its explosives or ordnance in case they ever run into that while doing their job as CBRN Marines,” said Garza. “We want to make sure that they can mitigate that, bypass it, and contact the individuals who need to respond to that kind of threat.”
During the last two days of the exercise, the CBRN Marines were called upon to teach and work with the Personnel Retrieval and Processing Company. The purpose of PRP is to recover and process the deceased remains of fallen service members and then conduct an evacuation from the theater of operations back to the United States. The CBRN and PRP Marines together practiced and discussed what would happen if the deceased remains that needed to be recovered and processed were contaminated.
“With the threat of contaminated environments, we have to conduct training to plan ahead to how we are going to recover contaminated remains,” said CWO3 Bo Causey, the mortuary affairs officer of 4th MLG. “Currently there is no official process on how to handle contaminated remains and how to get them back to the US.”
Through their current combined efforts, processes are being established to prepare for the situations these Marines could face during a time of conflict. This has been the second meeting between these Marines, with the first being a planning meeting. This exercise was the first time the Marines have integrated training to prepare for situations like this in the future.
The Marines are heading to Jordan soon to continue this training in support of host nations overseas. With one of their most complicated integrated training exercises now complete, Marines will continue learning how to deal with ever-changing adversaries and work with other Marines to accomplish the missions safely and effectively.