8th MPs flex muscle in certifying 71st Chem
May 22, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- A loud bang disrupts a tranquil sunny morning in a training field located at Schofield Barracks.
"Help!" "Hurry!" "They went that way!" "I'm sick!" "There's another bomb," was simultaneously heard screamed by more than 60 role-playing victims running from the explosion; while others fell down succumbing to their fake injuries.
Chaos, right? Not for the Soldiers of the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
In a display like none other, the 8th MP Bde. mobilized its diverse array of elements and assets in a Consequence Management Exercise held April 24 -25.
MPs from the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Bde. were first on scene assessing the situation, securing the area and calling for additional assets.
Within minutes help was en route.
In were called Soldiers from the Special Reaction Team, 728th MP Bn. to search for and capture the role-playing suspects; EOD Soldiers from the 303rd Ordnance Battalion to diffuse a second bomb; firefighters from the Federal Fire Department to evacuate, triage, and identify hazardous materials; and Soldiers from the 71st Chemical Company to decontaminate the role-playing victims as well as conduct reconnaissance of contaminated sites and package any evidence found for law enforcement investigations.
"This training exercise is designed to conduct incident command from an all-hazards approach; training and certifying various first response forces," said Col. Mark A. Jackson, commander, 8th MP Bde. "It allows leaders to transition incident command from one scenario to the next including law enforcement, EOD, Federal Fire and 71st Chemical Company's CBRN response."
Brig. Gen. Peggy C. Combs, 27th Chief of Chemical and Commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School spent several days visiting with the 71st Chem. Co. and witnessed the fast paced and intense training exercise first hand.
"Well done by the exercise planners, well done by everyone here operating in an all hazards approach," she said. "I'm thrilled to see the all-hazards approach, that's where we're going with our CBRN forces. The partnership between MP, EOD and Chemical is going to be an enduring partnership and any time we can exercise that interoperability makes us better as an Army."
The two-day training event allowed for the diverse units involved to train and be evaluated on their unique skill sets; with one end result being the recertification of the 71st Chem. Co. on unit equipment and the ability of 71st Chem. Co. to perform its mission.
"The last two days of training is considered certification for our company, its basically certifying us to be readily available for deployment," said Sgt. Nichelle Bishop, 71st Chem. Co.
Bishop then commented on Combs' presence during the week.
"She [Combs] got me fired up and said we're [Chemical Soldiers] not just an elite group by name, but because of what we do, how we train, and what we're trained on," said Bishop. "She also motivated us by letting us know we're doing something that people may not think is important, but it's so important given the world we live in. We are very needed at this time."
As diverse and demanding as the training was, so was the weather. Day one brought heavy down pours, while day two brought high temperatures, humidity and the sun.
"It [weather] didn't matter," said Sgt. 1st Class Hans Drupiewski, Platoon Sergeant, 2nd Platoon, 71st Chem. Co. "Our [71st Chem. Co.] set up time from yesterday in the pouring rain, with mud everywhere, was identical to the set up time today in nice sunny weather with no mud. They [Soldiers] did great as a team, they were motivated, they came together and they accomplished the mission no matter the elements."
After the last simulated patient had been treated and Soldiers were allotted the opportunity to pause and catch their breath, Bishop took the time to reflect on the past two days of training and all the different elements involved working together during the exercise.
"It was a good collaboration," she said. "That's what the Army does, and that's what we [Army] do best. Having everyone and everything come together, it was awesome. I could do this again and again and again, I love my job."
The brigade commander also spoke about the exercise and his Soldiers performance.
"These Soldiers and leaders performed magnificently," said Jackson. "This exercise certified the 71st Chem. Co. as well as the 728th MP Bn.'s Special Reaction Team. We have conducted certification exercises for 71st Chem., SRT, and other MP units in the past, but this was the first time in recent memory that we have planned and executed certification from an all-hazards perspective that also exercised our incident command systems and processes across multiple echelons and a wide variety of first responders."