By Sgt. Mia Benca (82nd Airborne Division)July 3, 2014
Fort Leonard Wood's 1st Lt. Joseph Terry Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Training Facility was the site for specialized training by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division during Exercise Steel Box.
Reconnaissance platoon and scouts from both the 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams, 82nd Abn. Div., and two Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams from the 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion, jumped from a high performance, C-130 aircraft onto the post on June 23-24 to kick off an intense week of CBRN training.
For the past several months, staff members from the 82nd have been planning a CBRN training event that focused on entry team tactics, site security and use of specialized equipment.
Today's realities demand paratroopers be prepared to fight alongside anyone, anywhere and in any type of environment.
The paratroopers and EOD Soldiers came together in squad-sized elements to engage in entry-team tactics and Chemical/Biological Weapon battle-drill procedures in realistic training environments. Several of the 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers have not had CBRN training to this extent, and this type of training strengthens their ability to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.
"Knowing these tactics makes us more effective and gives our commanders a better option," said Sgt. Thomas Kissell, Company A, 1st Bn., 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.
Over the first two days, the infantrymen, CBRN and chemical reconnaissance elements, and EOD Soldiers were mixed together in squad-sized elements and tested. 1st Sgt. Michael Zamora of Company A, 1st Bn, 505th PIR, explained that, "The challenge was training with other units in an environment we have never seen before. This has helped us to think outside the box, away from familiar areas and mesh with other units. We are learning what they are doing and hopefully we can work with that."
Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson, EOD, assigned to the 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion said, "we don't typically integrate with the chemical units. This was great training, and I'm learning a lot of important information."
"I think what we are doing is (excellent)," said Sgt. Ana Bello, a CBRN specialist at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th Engineer Bn, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. "It's good that we are merging the tactical field into the CBRN environment. This way we can figure out how to incorporate both and make it work. It was really hard making either one work without training together."
The last two days of training took place within Fort Leonard Wood's state-of-the-art training facility, where the paratroopers gained familiarity with chemical agents and practiced how to safely handle them.
The CBRN recon platoon and EOD were given a notional exercise scenario. The team had to plan and successfully execute their assigned mission. Bello continued, "I really enjoy it (the training) and I think that everyone is learning all the different types of equipment. You never know where or when we might come across (a real-world situation). Now we can be ready."
"Exercise Steel Box was a great opportunity to conduct realistic training at a premiere hazardous material training facility. We were able to integrate and synchronize operations from infantry, explosive ordnance disposal and CBRN paratroopers," said Sgt. Maj. Ronald Wilie, the 82nd Abn. Div. CBRN sergeant major.
Wilie praised all of the Soldiers who participated in the exercise, saying, "I'm glad we were able to accomplish this mission with troopers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Lastly, I have to thank 3rd Chemical Brigade, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for being a pivotal player in making this all come together. Their support was top notch."
The Terry Facility Incident Response Training Department provided facilities for units and leadership of the 82nd.
"The training facilities provided by IRTD allowed the units to practice various scenarios and provided a unique training opportunity for the paratroopers," said Dan Arden, IRTD technical director.
"Our intent has been to open up our world-class training facilities to operational units to improve on their CBRN skills. The 82nd this week was the first of what I hope are many opportunities for our CBRN forces across the Army," added Col. John Drushal, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander.
(Editor's note: Benca is assigned to 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs.)