FORT HOOD, Texas -- For Soldiers entering into a combat zone, there is always the fear of the unknown. An enemy could have employed dangerous chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) weapons on the battlefield, and Soldiers might not find out until it's too late.

To help alleviate some of this worry, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are training on the new Stryker Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance vehicle, fielded to the unit this year.

"This gives commanders freedom of movement in a CBRN environment," explained Sgt 1st Class Carlos Gomez, reconnaissance platoon sergeant for the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT.

The new platform will replace older units and allow trained Soldiers to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents from the safety of the sealed and pressurized vehicle.

During the nearly 16-week training course, Soldiers spent 10 weeks learning about every component inside the vehicle, and another six weeks focusing on how to use the vehicle's capabilities to support mission essential tasks as set forth by a commander.

"They crammed a lot of information into the course," said Pfc. Matthew McCorkle, chemical operations specialist with 2nd BCT. "It's pretty high speed."

During the training, McCorkle learned about each of the four positions inside the Stryker, which include a driver, surveyor, assistant surveyor and a vehicle commander.

Surveyors are primarily responsible for analyzing and collecting samples, while assistant surveyors keep records of what is found, according to Gomez.

After graduating from the course, McCorkle will be one of only about 100 Soldiers in the Army who are fully trained on the Stryker NBCRV, and will earn an additional skill identifier, ensuring he continues to work with this type of vehicle even if he moves to a new post.

For Soldiers and commanders, there are more benefits to this vehicle than just its keen ability to detect CBRN threats.

The chassis of this vehicle is nearly identical to all nine of the other Stryker variants, which not only makes parts easier to obtain, but also allows mechanics who might have trained on one of the other variants to easily adapt to this one, according to Bruce Baldwin, a new systems training technical adviser with the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence out of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

"The vehicle also does a lot more than the first generation," he explained. "It has a much greater lethality, a much greater survivability and much greater maneuver and maintainability."

"This enhances units and allows for a full spectrum of operations," said Sonny Fanning, a joint product manager. "It provides commanders with the ability to maneuver his troopers around CBRN threats."

By using this vehicle, commanders have ability to more effectively and safely conduct route reconnaissance, so they can plan troop movements in CBRN-free environments, he continued.

Although the 16-week course may be nearly over, the reconnaissance Soldiers who took part in it will continue to train on regular basis to ensure they maintain what they've learned.

"This is a very perishable skill," said Gomez. "The equipment is very advanced, and if you don't regularly keep up with how to use it, you won't be able to do it for long."

With a new crew of expertly trained Soldiers and brand new vehicle, commanders within the Black Jack brigade can rest assured that their troops will have the freedom of movement they need in a combat zone without having to worry they might be walking in to a CBRN environment.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16