'Nobody likes doing this'
July 21, 2009
CAMP HOVEY, Korea -- Running a training event that Soldiers do not look forward to participating in can be a challenge, but leaders from Recon Platoon, 4th Chemical Company, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division do just that in operating a "CS gas" chamber. The training, however unpleasant, reinforces crucial Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense skills.
"Nobody likes doing this - going into the CS chamber - but it is an annual requirement," said Sgt. 1st Class Dale Cline, the Recon Platoon sergeant. "It is also important to help maintain your NBC skills in the event that we would ever have to use them during wartime."
Soldiers from 4th Chemical Company have received their fair share of NBC training, but this event had another goal besides maintaining skills and fulfilling the annual requirement.
"This is basically to give our Soldiers experience running a CS chamber so that when they go back to a parent unit, they can hopefully run a good training event," said 1st Lt. Jung Oh, Recon Platoon leader. "Most of our Soldiers are first-term Soldiers just out of (advanced individual training), so it is very important to get them experienced doing this sort of thing."
Jung recently moved into his position after serving in the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and he sees the value in training up young Soldiers so they perform better when not assigned to a chemical unit.
"Having just come from a non-chemical unit, I think it's important for us to train ourselves on how to be better chemical officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers, and make sure we know how to run a good CS chamber," said Jung.
Conducting the CS chamber training outside of an academic environment also gives newly arriving Soldiers additional confidence in their unit equipment.
"Some of these Soldiers don't think we really have CS gas in the chamber when they first walk in," said Cline. "As soon as we tell them to take off the mask, they know we're not kidding."
Adding to the challenges of conducting training that deliberately induces intense physical discomfort, trainers and training Soldiers alike had to contend with scorching mid-July heat. Participants of all varieties seemed to regard the training the same way: as unpleasant but essential preparation for whatever battlefield contingency an enemy might present.
"I don't think they liked doing it," Cline said of the training. "It's MOPP 4, CS gas and summer heat. But I think they appreciated the training and understand how it will make them a better chemical Soldier."