GRAFENWOEHR, Germany --The average person can survive without shelter and water for up to three hours in the most harsh of environments and up to three days without water. Soldiers are trained and molded to be able to adapt to any environment, but what happens when you run out of clean water?
Soldiers are trained for that too. In fact, the Army employs an array of highly trained water treatment specialists that are primarily responsible for the supervision, installation and operation of water purification equipment, as well as dealing with water storage and distribution operations and activities.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade has a water purification team which is assigned to the Brigade Support Battalion. Recently, this team joined forces with troops assigned to 2nd Calvary Regiment in order to get hands on water purification training, Feb. 2, 2016, employing the Lightweight Water Purifier system, here.
"This is an opportunity to share knowledge between two maneuver support units geographically dispersed across the Alps on such a unique system [like the lightweight water purifier]," said Lt. Col. Jeff Reibestein, commander, Brigade Support Battalion. "It is invaluable to both organizations."
The Lightweight Water Purifier system, known as LWP is capable of producing up to 2,500 gallons of water per day. It is also intended to improve the responsiveness of water support to mobile small units and detachments where distribution of bulk water is not feasible or practical, said Capt. Phillip Hickman, commander, Company A, BSB.
The system utilizes a purification process known as reverse-osmosis as its primary method of converting raw water to potable drinking water. Configured properly, Hickman said, the LWP can fit in the back of an M1097 Troop Cargo Carrier for streamlined transportation.
"Without this equipment, any maneuver unit's operational reach would be limited to large scale potable water sources or pre-established supply chains. The LWP enables us to provide for the warfighter within those critical first 72-hours of operation in an austere environment," said Hickman.
During the training, Soldiers were able to exchange occupational expertise on water site recon techniques, water quality analysis, water site survivability, and preventative maintenance for the LWP. Reibestein believes this cooperative effort between each organization is ultimately what led to a successful training environment.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deploying forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Command Areas of Responsibility within 18 hours. The Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build stronger relationships and strengthen the alliance.