By Sgt. 1st Class Luis SaavedraNovember 4, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 4, 2013) -- Four M1135 Strykers are now in the hands of a Fort Drum unit that specializes in unconventional warfare mission.
The 59th Chemical Company, 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, accepted delivery of the Stryker nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance vehicles, Oct. 24.
The vehicles are fitted with equipment used to detect and analyze chemicals on the ground or in the air, while keeping the Soldiers inside the vehicle safe.
"The vehicle is pressurized," said Capt. Ronald C. Kamp, 59th Chemical Company commander. "The vehicle itself is a protective shell."
Kamp said the added survivability is important because when people are trying to leave a contaminated area, the chemical-detection Soldiers are heading in.
Compared to the M93 Fox that Soldiers used in the past, the Stryker provides added armor, modern equipment, and integrated biological and chemical, detection capabilities.
"The Stryker platform is designed to fill the gap between heavy and light armor," Kamp explained. "It's not an Abrams tank, but we can stick around in the fight a lot longer than if we were in a Humvee."
When the Strykers arrived at Fort Drum in late September, they were sent to a maintenance facility to ensure they were up to specifications before going to the unit.
The 59th Chemical Company is the only unit on Fort Drum to have the vehicles.
The company will train on the vehicles for many months to ensure the Soldiers are proficient in its use and operation, but training is not expected to change in any way.
"It will be enhanced," Kamp said.
Soldiers were eager to receive the equipment and start familiarizing themselves with the vehicle.
"The addition of the Stryker vehicles will enable this platoon to train with the actual equipment we will deploy with to support combatant commands worldwide," said Staff Sgt. Terence M. Erb, platoon sergeant assigned to 1st Platoon, 59th Chemical Company.
"The Soldiers are very excited about learning everything there is to know about this vehicle," he added. "They are ready to embrace the change."
Some people would say that chemical Soldiers have a unique profession.
"Being a part of the nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance crew is the embodiment of being a Soldier scientist," Kamp said.
While the unit's expertise offers much to boast about, Soldiers of the 59th Chemical Company are content with just knowing they possess a capability that can save lives.
"The 59th Chemical Company is extremely proud to offer this enhanced capability to the 10th Mountain Division, in an effort to protect its Soldiers, [non-commissioned officers] and officers who are fighting and winning our nation's wars," Kamp said.