WASHINGTON -- During a drill exercised on land at Fort Hood, Texas, and shipboard at Norfolk, Virginia, more than 200 Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors responded to simultaneous mock chemical attacks.

Working with test officers and data collectors of the Operational Test Command based at West Fort Hood, Texas, they tested the next generation chemical detector system, or NGCD, Oct. 24 through Nov. 17. The NGCD is a multi-service test used to assess and respond to chemical threats.

"We're collecting specific data necessary to inform the program manager and the services with information on the effectiveness, suitability, and survivability of the NGCD systems," said Eric Graham, an operational research analyst with Operational Test Command.

Systems from three NGCD increments were employed during the early operational assessment, according to Cpt. Christine Miller, a member of the Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate at Operational Test Command.

"The goal in testing is always to create the most realistic scenarios and execute operational missions," Miller said .

According to Miller, the testing, which used pre-production prototypes, proved to be an excellent learning opportunity for everyone involved. The test allowed the Soldiers to prepare for upcoming training exercises, which will include a rotation at the National Training Center in the near future.

"For the Sailors, the test provided them with many unique training challenges that are not ordinarily experienced during land missions," Miller added, "because the scenario called for a ship sustaining a 122-milimeter rocket attack of a suspected chemical agent."

Miller said the Sailors appeared to enjoy the break from their routine jobs to train on their chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense missions, while also incorporating the NGCD equipment into their damage control missions.

Graham contends that the next generation equipment must rely on the combined team approach to identify any joint operational gaps between the armed services.

"The test also takes a look at human factors and the assessment of tactics, techniques and procedures used," he said. "Our data collection efforts will ultimately assist in the manufacturing, development, and production of critical chemical detection equipment for the Department of Defense."

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The Soldiers who participated in the test were from the 181st Hazard Response Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. The Sailors shipboard were two damage control teams from Expeditionary Strike Group 2, USS Bataan (LHD 5), Norfolk Naval Station. Two Air Force chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense teams were formed by units from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, Montana; Minot Air Force Base, Minot, North Dakota; and Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana.

As the Army's only independent operational tester, Operational Test Command tests and assesses Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical service members to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. Operational Test Command is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer -- the American Service Member.