By Spc. Emily Knitter, 1HBCT Public AffairsMarch 29, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. (March 29, 2012) -- In 2007, the Army authorized the purchase of an additional 94 Stryker Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles to add to their current fleet of less than a dozen, with most operating in Iraq. In the last three months, two teams from 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion are training to be the first in 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team's history to become fully licensed.
"It's very exciting to be able to say we are the first [operators]," said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Stone, the recon platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd BSTB, and a native of Kansas City, Mo. "We are very excited and motivated to learn all we can."
Civilian system training specialists, who pass on all their knowledge to give the Soldiers the most up-to-date education possible, are teaching the teams.
"We operate in two phases," explained Robert Smith, a systems training specialist. "First phase is the 'operating new equipment phase,' when they do operations by each person's position. You have a driver, commander, surveyor and assistant surveyor."
Although the Soldiers receive most of their training based upon their position in the vehicle, they are also required to learn basic operations throughout the vehicle. After the first two and a half months, the teams go out to the field to put their new knowledge to the test.
"[They are required to] actually use the tactics and apply what they know from an operator level into full crew operations," said Smith.
For the teams themselves, this in-depth scenario is something they don't always get to experience.
"Because there isn't a large chemical threat, we don't always get to do as much training as we would like," said Stone. "It has been a very challenging, but pleasurable, experience as we get the chance to learn more skills involved with our [military occupational specialty]."
The NBCRV replaced the Fox NBC reconnaissance vehicle the Army previously utilized for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is simple.
"[The NBCRV] is a large improvement over the former FOX vehicles," explained Stone. "It has many more sensors and capabilities to determine the threat level. It will be able to give the first detection of any chemical or biological threat, [allowing Soldiers] to have opportune time to protect themselves and still complete the mission."
"This gives us a whole new capability," said Col. James Crider, 1HBCT commander. "Their ability to do not only the chemical mission, but also the reconnaissance mission expands our capability, and it makes the brigade combat team more independent."
Saving Soldiers' lives is always the first priority, and these new vehicles, along with the two teams' training, will be one more way the Raider Brigade is staying ahead of the enemy.