By Capt. William DuvallJuly 17, 2019
CLEMSON READINESS CENTER, CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA - Members of 2-263rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion (ADA BN), South Carolina National Guard, participated in an International Joint Force assessment of the first generation Chemical Agent Detector Colorimetric Reader (CADCoR) prototype at Clemson, South Carolina on July 13, 2019.
Feedback from the Soldiers will be used to evaluate, assess, and improve the CADCoR in determining colorimetric responses.
The representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) Advanced Defense Technology Center (ADTeC) were Dr. Masaki Takeda, Dr. Hiroya Sakurai, and Mr. Keiji Oguri. The U.S Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC CBC) representatives were Ms. Kerrin Dame, Mr. William Argiropoulos, Mr. Robert Pazda, Mr. Kevin Wan, and Mr. Kyle Hopkins. The U.S. Army CBRN School representative from Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri was Mr. David Glynn.
"The CADCoR team will conduct a User Assessment of the CADCoR and its ability to interpret the M256A2 sampler-detector colorimetric response. Soldiers will undergo familiarization training for the M256A2 sampler-detector and CADCoR prototype," stated Ms. Dame. "Soldiers will evaluate the CADCoR through scenario-based exercises to assess the effectiveness and efficacy of the prototype in conjunction with key activities such as data collection, after action reviews (AAR), and surveys to record CADCoR operations and results."
The objective of the user assessment is to evaluate ease of training and use for the CADCoR from a Soldier's standpoint, determine future improvements/capabilities for the CADCoR based on Soldier input and feedback, and assess the dependability and reliability of the CADCoR in determining the colorimetric response of the M256A2 sampler-detectors in different light disciplines.
The M256A2 Chemical Agent Detector Kit is a single-operator portable kit for detecting and classifying chemical agents in suspect vapors, liquid, and solids and is used to determine if the environment is safe so unmasking procedures can be performed. A previous assessment determined that Soldiers often had a difficult time interpreting the color change of the M256A2 in different light conditions and could not determine if a chemical agent had been detected.
In addition, colorblind Soldiers are unable to correctly interpret the colorimetric response of the M256A2. The CADCoR prototype automatically interprets the colorimetric response of the M256A2 ticket and provides high fidelity in reading the ticket in any light condition, thus eliminating any incorrect interpretations by the Soldier.
Over the past decade, CBC has partnered with several foreign allies on research projects through the Coalition Warfare Program (CWP). ADTeC and CBC have worked jointly for the past 3 years on the CADCoR effort. Japan's extensive knowledge in microfluidic devices and colorimetric recognition software made them an ideal candidate for partnership in this CWP effort.
There were a total of six members from the South Carolina National Guard attending the assessment: 2nd lt Joseph Denton, Sgt. Paul Alexander, Sgt. Weston McCorkle, Cpl. Slake Keller, Spc. Jamie French, and Spc. Derin Smith.
"The assessment today is allowing the scientists and engineers of the CADCoR development team the opportunity to get direct observation and feedback from Soldiers using the CADCoR," said Mr. David Glynn opening the assessment with the Soldiers. "We are looking to see what feedback we can receive from the Soldiers, let them know the purpose of why the CADCoR is developed this way, what we can do to improve it functionally, so we can see what right feels and looks like."
"When using the M256A2 detector ticket, many times in the past, it was difficult to interpret the color on the test spot of the detector ticket," stated Mr. Kevin Wan. "The CADCoR reads the color accurately through the use of cameras and algorithms to interpret the ticket and takes the guesswork out of whether it is safe or unsafe to unmask."
"The Soldiers feedback is an instrumental part of the design and improvement to the prototype. This user assessment provides critical information to bring the engineer and Soldier closer together to develop a system that fits the complexity of a Warfighter's mission," stated Mr. Kyle Hopkins.
The assessment started with a brief overview of the M256A2 and then conducted several practice iterations with the Soldiers. Upon familiarization, the Soldiers donned their Mission Oriented Protective, Posture (MOPP) Level 4. The Soldiers were tasked to operate the M256A2 in conjunction with the CADCoR in ambient light, low light, and no light conditions. The purpose of these testing conditions is to evaluate the importance of the CADCoR ability in determining the "safe" or "unsafe" condition in unmasking procedures without the aid of tactical lighting and human interpretation.
Soldiers from the 2-263rd stated their feedback of the CADCoR.
"The training was engaging. It was good that half of the class had a chemical background and the other half was MOS immaterial," commented 2nd lt Denton. "The equipment (CADCoR) was easy to learn, simple to use, and very lightweight."
"I am a 74D (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialist) and it was a challenge, especially in the MOPP 4 level," added Sgt. McCorkle.
Some of the challenges in operating the CADCoR in low light and no light conditions arose from difficulties in reading the LCD text display and difficulties in registering button operation while wearing thick, protective gear.
The Soldiers' feedback and input will drive future improvements and capabilities for the CADCoR in addition to providing valuable data on the dependability and reliability of the CADCoR in determining the colorimetric response of the detector ticket in any light condition. The CADCoR provided the Soldiers with a high fidelity reading of the M256A2 response for unmasking procedures.
Each participant was recognized with a Chemical Biological Center coin presented by Ms. Dame, while Dr. Takeda presented authentic Japanese gifts to the participants.
The day's events ended with a group picture, concluding the CADCoR user assessment.