Army's new protective mask goes 'live' at CDTF
May 8, 2013
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Sixteen Soldiers assigned to the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade completed the first Army class of Basic Toxic Agent Training incorporating the M50 protective mask here May 9 at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Training Facility.
Distribution of the M50 protective mask is part of a force modernization program that began last month for Army units assigned to Fort Leonard Wood.
"We provided the M50 training for 4th MEB based on their upcoming requirements to potentially respond to a hazardous incident," said Capt. Venancio Castro, CDTF operations officer.
The 4th MEB is slated to assume mission command of Task Force Operations within the Defense CBRN Response Force under Joint Task Force -- Civil Support. JTF-CS is a Northern Command organization that is partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to respond to national disasters within the U.S. and its territories.
"The task of responding to a national disaster is one of the hardest things to ask our Soldiers to do, particularly when the response includes operating in a CBRN environment," said Col. James Reckard, 4th MEB commander. "The training provided by CDTF and its staff contributes to building the confidence our Soldiers will need in their ability to execute a mission with the right equipment, at the right time."
Part of that equipment includes the newly-fielded M50 protective mask, which features a single wrap-around lens, dual filters that can be replaced while worn and 24-hours of continuous CBRN protection.
During the training, 4th MEB Soldiers went through sizing and issue of the mask as well as a run through the Protection Assessment Test System to certify equipment functionality before operating in a toxic environment.
"The basic course operates under the crawl, walk, run phases of training," said Staff Sgt. Jaime Padgett, 4th MEB CBRN specialist. "Each trainee is taught how to don and doff their mask, how to properly wear the [Joint Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology], how to identify a hazard and how to decontaminate themselves and their equipment."
The CDTF is the only toxic training facility within the Department of Defense where military service members and units can train with nerve agents GB and VX, biological agent (Bacillus globigii), and radioactive material (Cesium 137).
"I was surprised when the instructors said that they were going to have specialists come into the room and place live chemicals on the equipment," said Sgt. Christopher Parker, brigade commander's driver assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th MEB. "Then they brought the chemicals in and my training paid off."
"I knew that if anything happened, we were all trained in how to respond," Parker said. "It didn't just test my equipment, it tested me."
Parker said that the training reassured him that he would be able to do the mission if he was called.
The 4th MEB is slated to send an additional 50 Soldiers through the BTAT course at CDTF this month.
The CDTF trains about 5,000 personnel annually in both basic and advanced CBRN defense skills and additionally offers training to operational units upon request, according to Castro.
"The CDTF can provide training for select military personnel and units in the older M40 protective mask until it is completely phased out," said Castro.