By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsJuly 17, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 18, 2014) -- Units from the 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) are integrating into decisive action training rotations at the U.S. Army combat training centers.
In 2014, the 20th CBRNE Command began training with U.S. Army combat units at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California; and at the Joint Readiness Training Center on Fort Polk, Louisiana.
"It is essential to integrate CBRNE operations into decisive action training during this critical time of transition for our Army," said Lt. Col. Eric Towns, commander of the 22nd Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort), based on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
The 22nd Chemical Battalion supported the Vermont National Guard's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team training rotation to Fort Polk.
According to Towns, the exercise demonstrated his task force's ability to respond to CBRNE hazards in support of combat operations.
At Fort Polk, the CBRNE task force conducted counter-proliferation of chemical agents, dismantled conventional and chemical improvised explosive devices, and responded to chemical hazards.
"We find more maneuver units regaining the decisive action mindset," said Towns. "As (Forces Command's) sole provider of CBRNE forces, we must ensure that maneuver commanders at all levels are capable of incorporating our unique capability set into their formations.
"Our capabilities will be essential in the preservation of combat power during the next conflict," said Towns, from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Lt. Col. Brant Hoskins, the commander of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort), led a CBRNE task force during the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team rotation to the National Training Center, as a part of Exercise Atropian Phoenix 2014.
At Fort Irwin, the CBRNE task force included Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units, chemical reconnaissance and decontamination units, CBRNE Response Teams, a Nuclear Disablement Team, and a Heavy Mobile Expeditionary Laboratory.
"We have focused significant energy on developing the relationship between my unit and 2-2nd Infantry, for several months, and that paid dividends during the rotation," said Hoskins, a native of Albany, Oregon. "This enabled us to leverage all the resources of the brigade for our missions, rather than just those available to my task force."
From its Aberdeen Proving Ground headquarters in Maryland's science, technology and security corridor, the 20th CBRNE Command commands units on 19 military installations in 16 states and deploys around the world. To stay ready for its high stakes global mission, the 20th CBRNE Command trains regularly with allied, interagency and joint partners.
Brig. Gen. JB Burton, the commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command, said the U.S. Army's combat training centers provide a realistic venue for training Soldiers to operate in an all hazards environment.
Burton said the rotation to Fort Irwin for Exercise Atropian Phoenix was a milestone for his command.
"This was another chance to get our Soldiers into a Combat Training Center rotation in support of a brigade combat team decisive action rotation," said Burton, who commands the U.S. Army's sole formation tasked with combating chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.
"Our Army's Combat Training Centers remain some of the crown jewels of our Army, where our Soldiers and units get the opportunity to train against a living, thinking opposing force of professionals who want to win," said Burton.
Burton said training rotations to the combat training centers enable his command to train for a variety of complex threats.
"Our mission requires that we provide integrated CBRNE formations in support of expeditionary operations," said Burton, who visited his troops on Fort Irwin during Exercise Atropian Phoenix. "Those integrated CBRN and EOD capabilities require an integrating headquarters which has the CBRN and EOD expertise necessary to effectively employ those forces."