By Sgt. Krystin Bock
323rd Chemical Company, Unit Public Affairs Representative
SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Soldiers from the 323rd Chemical Biological Nuclear Radiation (CBRN) Company performed a decontamination training exercise known as Green Dragon on Aug. 23 in Sioux City, Iowa, at the Mid-American Museum of Aviation and Transportation.
This particular mission was designed to train Soldiers responsible for defending against weapons of mass destruction. The exercise took place in a fictional country named Atropia (Sioux City) where the enemy had been preparing for an attack. In this scenario, the enemy had possibly captured radioactive material from a local hospital to build a dirty bomb. Additionally, they tried to prevent humanitarian aid by contaminating aircraft.
The reconnaissance platoon was first on sight. Their mission was to survey and recon the area to detect chemical and radiation sources and their dispersion methods. They preformed a dismounted recon and detected a chemical agent known as "VX" (in reality, nothing but harmless dish soap) on an aircraft. This compromised three of the planes and the runways around them. Additionally, a radioactive device was found partially assembled in another plane.
A unit known as Biological Integrated Detection System arrived to monitor the scene and prevent possible biological threats.
"We were commanded to take an initial background sample and follow up with a sample taken every 60 minutes. We then packaged with appropriate paperwork before extraction," said Spc. Ahsja Cooper-Reid, CBRN Company, 5th platoon, BIDS, out of Canton, South Dakota.
While on site, Soldiers surveyed the air for particles like anthrax and ricin using laser detection and air sample collections. Test samples were sent up to a laboratory for further conformation testing.
The decontamination platoons arrived on site and began decontamination procedures. During this stage, Soldiers wore full protective suits, commonly known in the Army as MOPP gear (mission-oriented protective postures).
The decontamination process began with washing, scrubbing and rinsing the aircraft. Next, they used detection equipment to ensure the aircraft was cleaned completely. Then, finally, they cleaned the runway from any potential spillage.
During this time, a maintenance element specializing in recovery operations and repair, removed a vehicle that had experienced mechanical problems.
Once the runway was cleared, the aircraft could resume flight to take supplies to the Atropian people.
"This training is important to the Soldiers by helping them learn critical thinking skills that they will need if they are deployed. They also got to decontaminate something new with the civilian aircraft while the community gets a glimpse at what we do." says Capt. Brian Callahan, commander of the 323rd CBRN Company.