366th Civil Engineer Squadron enhances CBRN preparedness

  • Published
  • By Capt. Matthew Scheel
  • 366th Civil Engineer Squadron

“Prime BEEF Days save lives” is an adage as old as time, yet it couldn’t be more accurate.

According to the National Defense Strategy, tomorrow’s near-peer fight will necessitate that the Joint Force can fight and win in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear contested environment. Single attacks and factors such as the type of agent and environmental conditions may require wearing protective equipment for several minutes to hours.

Multiple attacks, the use of newly developed chemical or biological agents and unfavorable weather conditions may extend wear times or require repeated donning and doffing over extended periods.

On January’s Prime BEEF day, the Engineers of the 366th Civil Engineer Squadron prepared for such a fight by donning Mission Oriented Protective Posture 4 after a simulated munition explosion outside the Prime BEEF warehouse, quickly followed by a localized announcement of “Alarm Red, MOPP 4”. Gunfighter Engineers rapidly went from MOPP Ready to MOPP 4, within the necessary eight-minute time frame.
The event was intended to establish a baseline for the continuum of learning, with CBRN Specialists providing on the spot feedback to ensure that all members donned gear correctly prior to commencing a 1.5-mile march in MOPP 4, on an especially blustery winter morning.

“Anytime we get into MOPP 4, there is goodness in that,” said Master Sgt. Valerie Kalkwarf, 366th CES emergency management superintendent. “Repetition builds muscle memory and enhances the speed and accuracy in which we are able to effectively don our protective gear. The 1.5-mile march also gave Gunfighter Engineers a chance to build endurance and work towards overcoming physical and mental barriers of wearing the gear. Practice makes progress.”

CBRN is one of the twelve Ready Training Areas detailed in the newly released Ready Airman Training Program. All Airmen will accomplish the number of associated training events required per deployment cycle.

Deterring adversary use of WMD depends upon effective preparedness and operational readiness to deny the adversary and strategic advantage.

We must be prepared to respond to these threats as they arise. Our militaries last experienced a CBRN contested environment in the Gulf War.

During the ground offensive in 1991, all Marines under the I Marine Expeditionary Force put on a jacket and trousers, as well as chemical protective overboots of various styles, as they crossed the border into Kuwait.

After the offensive, Maj. John H. Turner,Task Force Papa Bear S-3, wrote: "Most Marines found the MOPP suits to be cut much larger than utilities and were bulky and cumbersome. My extra-large trousers had to be held up with a rope.”

Gunfighters must be ready for worldwide deployment when the need arises and challenges like Prime BEEF Days ensure that 366th CES Engineers are prepared to answer the Nation’s call.