Soldiers Take Part in WMD Exercise
A Soldier with the 71st Chemical Company, 45th Sustainment Brigade, takes part in a Weapons of Mass Destruction exercise, Dec. 2 at Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Hawaii.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI - Soldiers from the 71st Chemical Company, 45th Sustainment Brigade, trained with the Soldiers and Airmen of the 93rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST), a component of the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, Dec. 2 at Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Hawaii.

The purpose of the training was that, in the case of a civil emergency in Hawaii, the 71st Chemical Co., part of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, would augment the 93rd in providing assistance to the civilian commander on the ground. In the case of a civil emergency in Hawaii the 93rd WMD-CST would be called in to provide assistance to the unified commander on the ground.

"The 93rd will identify the threat, asses the situation, assist with follow on forces and advise the unified commander, who is a local civil authority official, on the consequences," said Army Lt. Col. Thomas Johnson, Commander of the 93rd WMD-CST.

A civil emergency could be classified as anything from a volcano releasing sulfuric gas into the atmosphere to a terrorist blowing up Honolulu Harbor.

"In the case of a civil emergency in Hawaii, we (the 93rd) will be there within three hours," said Johnson. "The 93rd will identify the threat, asses the situation, assist with follow on forces and advise the unified commander, who is a local civil authority official, on the consequences."

However, due to the remoteness of the islands, it is not always possible to get help in from the mainland immediately, which is why the 71st is undergoing this training.

"The value of the training is to create inoperability within the CBRNE community," said Johnson. "By understanding each other\'s mission and capabilities we've identified the need to train together so we can better help the people, in case of a WMD attack."

The 71st rehearsed entering areas suspected of being highly caustic or hazardous as part of the training exercise.

"Much like the stack the infantry and military police use to clear a room, we use a similar stack to enter a suspected caustic environment," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Hew Len, 93rd WMD-CST. "However, we normally use three man stacks instead of four."

The first man, which used to be known as the "dirty man", is the first to enter the area. He will check test anything that looks like it may be caustic, acidic or radiated. The first man will also be the only one to touch anything in the room, which is how he got the name. The second man, traditionally known as the "clean man" operates the improved chemical agent moderating system or icam. He also will hand the first man any equipment, such as Ph paper, that he may need to test suspected items. The third man, the team chief, keeps in contact with the ground commander by radio, taking photos of everything in the room for documentation purposes. It is the team chief's job to also monitor equipment which detects the levels of man-made and organic toxins in the area.

"Our focus is on all chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) agents," said Army Sgt. Keith Hapenney, 93rd WMD-CST.

In May 1998, President Bill Clinton recognized the growing threat of chemical and biological terrorism. To help combat this threat, the Department of Defense formed 10 teams to support state and local authorities in the event of an incident involving WMDs. There are currently 55 teams in operation.

Page last updated Tue December 9th, 2008 at 17:53