FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – U.S. Army Chemical Corps Soldiers recently took flight during specialized helicopter training on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
American Soldiers from the 63rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Company “Dragon Masters” participated in Special Patrol Insertion Extraction System (SPIES) training where they were harnessed on a rope and airlifted by a MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
The Company B “Lancers” from the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment conducted the training for Soldiers on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the storied “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Capt. Jon C. Waight, the Company B commander, said the Special Patrol Insertion Extraction System can be used to deliver forces to and from hot landing zones during combat operations.
“This capability is clearly an excellent tool for any unit that seeks operational depth and speed for forward tactical insertions, regardless of the task,” said Waight. “It was an incredible experience to not only train with our great teammates, the Dragon Masters, but also to expose them to another means to accomplish their critical mission and foster the Air Assault culture with our Fort Campbell tenant units."
A University of Houston, Texas, ROTC graduate who originally served as a combat medic, Waight said Air Assault and SPIES training are well suited for supporting the U.S. Army’s focus on preparing for large scale combat operations against near peer adversaries.
“Operational tempo and expanding the friendly forces area of influence is key to seizing the initiative and shaping success,” said Waight. “While maneuver forces serve as our primary delivery asset, rotary-wing utility overcomes barriers to non-permissible terrain, retaining freedom of maneuver and rapid displacement and emplacement for any unit, to include combat support."
Capt. Matthew J. Maddox, the 63rd CBRN Company commander, said seven Dragon Masters were among the 30 Soldiers who participated in the recent SPIES training that was coordinated by Fort Campbell’s Sabalauski Air Assault School.
“The company continues to integrate with maneuver units across Fort Campbell,” said Maddox, a native of Sandoval, Illinois. “The Dragon Masters have conducted two previous combined training exercises with Company B. We conducted aircraft decontamination and the aviation company provided Air Assault assets during a company field training exercise last March.”
According to Maddox, while preparing for large scale combat operations, the Dragon Masters are also conducting quarterly training to support the Defense CRBN Response Force or DCRF.
In support of U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Task Force-Civil Support, the DCRF saves lives, mitigates suffering and facilitates recovery operations in a CBRN environment to support civil authorities.
The DCRF conducts defense support to civil authority response operations planning and preparedness to ensure mission readiness.
The Dragon Masters assumed the two-year DCRF mission in June 2022.
A former 5th grade teacher and National Guardsmen, Maddox was commissioned on Active Duty in the U.S. Army in 2014. He is a graduate of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, and Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
The 63rd CBRN Company “Dragon Masters” are part of the 2nd CBRN Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards company.
American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
Maj. Tristan W. Obluck, the operations officer for the Fort Hood, Texas-based 2nd CBRN Battalion, said the Special Patrol Insertion Extraction System training keeps the Dragon Masters ready to enable maneuver forces.
“The training is key to building the capability for the 63rd CBRN Company to conduct CBRN operations anywhere on the battlefield,” said Obluck. “The training gives the Dragon Masters an opportunity to train on unique infiltration and exfiltration procedures. It also provided a chance to learn what CBRN-centric equipment Soldiers can bring with them on top of the basic combat load. The lessons learned from the training will drive future equipment load outs when conducting operations.”