MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 executed an operational decontamination exercise at their motor transportation wash rack at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 18, 2015.
As reconnaissance, surveillance and decontamination trained personnel, these Marines acted swiftly and donned their personal protective equipment during this simulated chemical attack.
Operational decontamination exercises sustain operations, reduce contact hazards and limit the spread of contamination.
“Where we are located in the world, we are probably one of the most prone areas where these types of attacks could happen,” said Lance Cpl. William Hony, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear chief with MWSS-171. “We notified RSD Marines about the chemical attack and they quickly donned mission-oriented protective postures four gear so they were fully encapsulated.”
The downpour of rain set the stage for this five-phase exercise that commenced with the identification of a CBRN threat.
RSD Marines then set up a decontamination line for their 7-Ton Truck, John Deere TRAM 624KR tractor, and a Humvee to practice the proper decontamination procedures to avoid spraying chemicals haphazardly.
Pfc. Raymond Ramirez, an embarkation Marine with MWSS-171, said despite the incessant rain, this training was beneficial and affects the Marines' success in possible real life situations.
“You have to go through this process very quickly,” said Ramirez. “Practice makes perfect ... and Marines need to know what they’re doing when this actually happens.”
As part of Marine Corps Order 3400.3G, units are required to integrate potential CBRN situations into exercises and train to accomplish their assigned mission essential tasks in a CBRN environment.
“We always need to be ready for this,” said Hony. “I think it’s very important because there are many enemies who possess CBRN attack capabilities ... Myself and other CBRN Marines pass on this information to help RSD personnel react quickly in this type of situation and mitigate the effects. We try to train as much as we can to keep the Marines’ skills fresh. There are a lot of hours that go into being an RSD Marine. If we don’t train other people to do this type of stuff, I’m the only one who knows. So we have to pass on this information.”
After the RSD team decontaminated vehicles, they did a MOPP exchange to thoroughly review each other’s PPE and ensure Marines could safely resume normal operations.
This training is just a glimpse of MWSS-171’s annual unit level CBRN defense training that enables combat proactivity and readiness.
“People’s lives are potentially counting on the Marines to help them in these real life situations, and it’s important to go through this as realistically as possible,” said Hony. “Were trying to save lives, and the next time they may be saving the Marine to the left or to the right of them."