FORT BLISS, Texas – The 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the 48th Chemical Brigade’s 22nd Chemical Battalion, and CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) conducted a rare combined training exercise, Sept. 9-13, at the Mission Training Complex here to validate their readiness for an upcoming mission.
This scenario-based training exercise featured a unique opportunity for two of the U.S. Army’s premier CBRNE organizations to train together.
The 22nd Chemical Battalion ‘America’s Guardians,’ located here at Fort Bliss, Texas is one of four chemical battalions serving under the 48th Chemical Brigade, the only active duty CBRN defense brigade of its kind in the U.S. Army.
The 22nd Chemical Battalion commands a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the 44th Chemical Company, the 46th Chemical Company (Technical Escort), which are located here on Fort Bliss and the 10th Chemical Company, located in Fort Carson, Colorado.
According to Lt. Col. Sean Carmody, commander of America’s Guardians, this training exercise served multiple purposes; primarily to certify his battalion for a future mission, but he believes there is a broader purpose.
The opportunity to integrate this training event with CARA, as a laboratory, was a unique opportunity, said Carmody.
“Their analytical capabilities absolutely reinforce our operations on the ground,” he said. “Training with CARA is essential to understanding that dynamic, that interaction between collector, lab, and analysis, which ultimately leads to better decision-making for leaders in theater.”
While the 22nd and CARA would almost certainly interact during a real-world large-scale combat operation, it is not often they get to train together.
Training with the 22nd Chemical Company is essential, according to Richard Trombly, laboratory manager with CARA.
“We rely on them to bring the samples to us,” said Trombly. “That integration, the communication – they feed us, we give feedback and decisions are made off the results we get from our analytics.”
The Edgewood, Maryland-based CARA is an organization of civilian men and women scientists with advanced degrees ready to diagnose chemical, biological and explosive samples.
As a subordinate unit of 20th CBRNE Command, CARA boasts the use of two heavy and light mobile expeditionary laboratories, which allows their staff of civilian scientists to rapidly deploy anywhere around the world in support of U.S. Army CBRNE operations.
Both state-of-the-art labs were on-site and used during the training exercise.
“The light lab is designed to be a little closer to the fight to get that first initial screening for samples, so some decisions can be made,” said Trombly. “Then the samples can go to the heavy lab, which produces a higher fidelity answer to find those ‘needle in a haystack’ answers used in operational and strategic-level decisions.”
Before any samples can be analyzed by CARA, they must first be collected, packaged properly and transported safely.
A small contingent of Soldiers from the 46th Chemical Company (TE) were featured during the exercise and trained on their trans-load process. Trans loading is a detailed process for receiving samples from a target site, properly packaging and rendering them safe for transport to a laboratory.
“We ensure the samples we collect are annotated, packaged properly and safely transported in their entirety to the lab,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcos Juarez, team lead, 46th Chemical Company (TE).
Readiness is at the forefront of the U.S. Army’s list of priorities. Taking advantage of unique joint training opportunities like this one ensure CARA and America’s Guardians are always ready.
“Our role as a CBRNE headquarters is to enable maneuver and theater forces to ultimately ensure success on the battlefield,” said Carmody.