Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan -- Sirens screech as two figures fully loaded with safety equipment breeze through the hazy, clouded air. With voices muffled behind gas masks, they shout instructions to each other as they entered the gas chamber, a simulated site of a leaking ordnance package.
Marines performed leak, seal, package and decontamination procedures April 21 at the gas chamber on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. The Marines are explosive ordnance disposal technicians with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense specialists with Marine Logistics Group Headquarters Regiment, 3rd MLG, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
EOD technicians are responsible for the protection of personnel and property across the Marine Corps, from CBRN incidents to conventional ordnance operations according to Staff Sgt. Joshua K. Crabtree, an EOD technician with 9th ESB, and a Decatur, Texas native.
Likewise, CBRN defense specialists carry the responsibility to respond when chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats are present according to Staff Sgt. James P. Anderson, the CBRN defense staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MLG Headquarters Regiment.
Before the training began, Marines activated packages of chlorobenzylidene malonitrile, also known as tear gas, in the dark, foggy, chamber to simulate the emission of harmful gases.
The Marines divided into teams of four and entered the gas chamber in pairs, the first pair performing initial inspection procedures and setting up equipment for packaging, containment and transportation of the leaking ordnance and equipment to prevent cross-contamination.
The second pair of Marines followed behind and sealed the leaking ordnance with packing materials to avoid further contamination and placed the package in a container for safe transport.
The key to this training is repetition, according to Lance Cpl. River J. Garza, a CBRN defense specialist with MLG Headquarters Regiment.
“It’s all about teaching readiness,” said Garza, a Campbell, California, native. “We need repetition to instill confidence in the safety (equipment) as well as the procedures so we can keep everyone safe.”
The Marine EOD technicians and CBRN defense specialists came together to train, reinforcing individual and unit-level readiness for terrorist situations involving CBRN-related threats.
They donned personal protective equipment throughout the training called mission-oriented protective posture equipment, also known as MOPP gear. The equipment included gas masks, gloves, over garments and boots, which although bulky, protects Marines from harmful chemical agents during contact with hazardous materials.
After the movement through the gas chamber, the technicians and defense specialists stepped carefully through the decontamination line to properly remove protective equipment and ensure contaminants were not carried outside the affected area.
This is a necessary step in the training, which familiarizes Marines with the correct safety measures that must be taken following contact with a hazardous material spill, according to Garza.
“(CBRN) is here to ensure Marines are familiar with the decontamination process as well as the leak, seal, package process,” said Garza. “We have to be sure the contaminants we come in contact with during the (process) are not carried outside of the affected area.”
The joint training is a good tool to be sure that both units of Marines are well-rounded and able to function from the individual level to the unit level, according to Anderson, a Las Vegas, Nevada native.
“It’s important we train with (other sections), because they have their expertise and we have ours. The sharing of experience and knowledge is great for our growth,” said Anderson. “It’s truly rewarding knowing that we have the capabilities and proficiency we need to ensure mission accomplishment and the safety of all involved.”