Dugway Proving Ground's mission is to test defenses against chemical agents.
The Aug. 9 -16 exercise familiarized participants with the practices and requirements of an international challenge inspection on U.S. soil, while acquainting them with Dugway. Overall, approximately 65 Dugway and outside personnel participated.
The CWC is essentially the treaty that 193 countries agree upon to not produce, stockpile or use chemical weapons or their precursors (compounds used specifically to make chemical weapons). However, making or storing relatively small amounts of chemical agents for testing defenses (gas masks, detectors, decontaminators, etc.) is allowed.
The CWC created the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons -- or OPCW, based in The Hague, Netherlands -- to implement the provisions of the treaty. The treaty enables any member country to request a challenge. An OPCW team would visit the alleged violation site to gather information to clarify and resolve the issue.
No foreign nationals participated in August's exercise. Defense Threat Reduction Agency members portrayed two OCPW teams, doing building inspections, sampling, analysis, interviews and document reviews.
If a member nation believes another is violating the CWC, it may demand a challenge inspection -- a highly intrusive, short-notice inspection of facilities or areas. Challenge inspections cannot be refused, are national level events, and draw attention from high level government officials and international media. While the U.S. has never experienced a challenge inspection, it must be prepared.
Most OCPW inspections are not challenges, but are conducted routinely at chemical destruction and storage facilities, according to Robert Dean, who works in the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity Center for Treaty Implementation and Compliance, or CMA CTIC, based in Maryland. For this exercise, Dean was lead facilitator for planning and execution. His Dugway counterpart was Andrew Neafsey, a test officer with Dugway's Chemical Test Division.
Dean praised Dugway for its outstanding cooperation. "I'm impressed by the depth of knowledge and experience of site personnel," he said.
Crystal Legaluppi, chief of the CMA CTIC team, said it had been a long time since they partnered in an exercise with an outside asset.
"I am very impressed by this exercise, what our team accomplished and what we learned. The set-up was excellent, but most importantly we were able to partner with Dugway Proving Ground," she said. "The personnel were smart, friendly and easy to work with."