FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Soldiers from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command trained with troops from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at the nation’s premier ground combat training center, Oct. 28 – Nov. 12.
The Fort Riley, Kansas-based 172nd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Company (Hazardous Response) and the Fort Carson, Colorado-based 764th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) supported the brigade during Decisive Action Rotation 22-02 at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California.
The 172nd CBRN Company is part of the 2nd Chemical Battalion and 48th Chemical Brigade while the 764th EOD Company is assigned to the 242nd EOD Battalion and 71st EOD Group. Both units are part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command.
Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous threats and hazards in support of combat operations and civil authorities.
The 11th Armored Cavalry “Blackhorse” Regiment served as the opposition force and squared off against Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker “Warhorse” Brigade Combat Team in the “the box” — shorthand for the Mojave Desert training center that is almost as big as the state of Rhode Island.
During 15 days of high-intensity combat training, 75 Soldiers from the 172nd CBRN Company provided multi-capability support to the brigade.
“The company headquarters integrated through all phases of planning and execution of the rotation,” said Capt. Chase B. D’Amato, commander of the 172nd CBRN Company. “The company’s line platoons enabled lethality throughout the rotation.”
The 172nd CBRN Company “Gladiators” conducted seven mounted reconnaissance operations, four thorough decontamination missions, four operational decontamination missions for Special Forces troops and four CBRN site assessments.
“These missions enabled the lethality of 2-4th SBCT by helping them avoid contaminated sectors, receive quick decontamination to get maneuver elements back into the fight and helped build a counter Weapons of Mass Destruction network through site assessment missions,” said D’Amato, a native of Coral Springs, Florida.
D’Amato said his Soldiers succeeded in the tough training environment by maintaining their focus on readiness and maintenance. In spite of the complexity of the training and the vast distances that were covered, often at night, the “Gladiators” suffered no injuries and kept their equipment ready. Out of 39 deployed pieces of equipment, only two pieces were briefly out of the fight.
“Decisive Action Rotation 22-02 was extremely challenging,” said D’Amato, an Operation Inherent Resolve veteran who also served in South Korea. “The training scenarios paired with the challenges of operating in an expeditionary environment tested the company and all of our commodity shops from our CBRN Soldiers to our sustainers and communications specialists.”
From the 764th EOD Company, 15 Soldiers from three EOD teams, a company headquarters element and the EOD teams’ platoon leadership participated in the rotation.
The EOD technicians prepared for the rotation during field training exercises with the 2nd SBCT and 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion.
According to 1st Lt. Ryan L. Rettig, the operations officer for the 764th EOD Company, the EOD Soldiers helped to prepare the brigade for large scale combat operations in an all hazards environment.
EOD technicians enable freedom of maneuver on the battlefield by defeating the explosive devices that are designed to imperil lives and impede missions.
Rettig said the highlight of the Decisive Action Rotation was when two EOD technicians from the 764th EOD Company helped Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, to seize the town of Razish from opposition forces.
Staff Sgt. Kyle C. McLaughlin, an EOD team leader from Baltimore, and Sgt. Derrion J. Grummel, an EOD technician from Toledo, Ohio, cleared a key building of explosive hazards and enabled the company to take the town.
“The main value from Combat Training Center rotations for us is the opportunity to integrate with a Brigade Combat Team and support the BCT’s mission,” said Rettig. “Additional value for EOD Soldiers can be found in the training exercises leading up to a CTC rotation.”