110th Chemical Battalion trains for mission success
February 13, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCcHORD, Wash. -- Snow, rain and ice did not deter soldiers of the 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) as they suited up to train on their meticulous and vital mission at Joint Base Lewis- McChord, Wash., Jan. 24.
"We never know where we are going to be needed and what kind of call we are going to have to respond to," said Capt. Olja S. Correa, native of Tampa, Fla., and assistant operations, 110th Chemical Battalion. "Being able to respond to those missions in any kind of an environment makes our soldiers able to deliver."
Soldiers, donning their full mission oriented protective posture gear, navigated a variety of graded scenarios. The training better prepares them for real missions that may call on their expertise of responding to potentially devastating chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and enhanced conventional weapons attacks.
"It's really essential that we train and that we maintain the standard in order to perform and come back home safe every day," added Correa.
Over the course of two to three weeks, the battalion breaks up into respective teams and responds to situations that require them to assess locations and bring back data and samples of potential threats.
"We give guidance to commanders about what is on the ground without having to resource out to civilian sectors because it takes them longer than it takes us," Correa said.
The technical escort teams and the explosive ordnance disposal components are assessed by their performance on each element that contributes to their mission. Once they satisfactorily complete the training they will receive their annual certifications.
"It is crucial to evaluate them because if something is not being done correctly, we are able to fix it here," Correa said. "This process is going to take time, so mistakes they make today they probably will not make by the end of it."
It is a procedure that requires much cooperation because of communication barriers associated with wearing a mask and other unavoidable dilemmas.
"When you're in a fully enclosed suit your IQ drops 10 percent and you're thinking that you're thirsty, tired, cold or hot. You know that it's something that you're doing together that you need to understand each other and have to work together," said Houston native Sgt. 1st Class Leon A. Washington, the battalion operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge for 110th Chemical Battalion. "Every success depends on teamwork. When you've got that team together, you've got a family."
While conducting training, there is an expectation of performance improvement, both individually and collectively. The desired result is a more proficient team less likely to make the mistakes that could cost lives.
"We only have a certain amount of time to take a sample to take off the target. There are time constraints for EOD as well and if they don't know what they are doing or we don't or our leaders don't then the mission is a failure and people could die," said Sgt. Ron C. Dean, native of Bridgeport, Conn., trans-load non-commissioned officer-in-charge, Bravo Company, 110th Chemical Battalion. "Training helps prevent that because you actually can practice to almost perfection so that when it's real world it will be second nature."