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Archive for the ‘CBRNE’ Category

PACAF Visits Kunsan AB, Validates Next-Gen Aircrew Protection

Saturday, January 28th, 2023

KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) —

Pacific Air Forces recently deployed a joint team of representatives and subject matter experts to Kunsan Air Base, conducting the major command’s first test and validation of counter-chemical warfare tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP.

These tests are part of the Next Generation Aircrew Protection program, designed to ensure aircrew have proper chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, or CBRN, protective equipment and that CBRN measures are modernized to meet emerging threats while maintaining peak human performance.

“Current aircrew and pilot CBRN protective equipment are effective but restrictive and burdensome, thus hindering combat effectiveness,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hall, PACAF aircrew flight equipment major command functional manager. “The Air Force realized this in late 2021 and early 2022 and set aside about $16 million to conduct research on aircraft, ground and air testing across various platforms to collect quantitative and qualitative data.”

Armed with the data, researchers refined existing TTPs to better equip aircrews, like Kunsan AB’s, with the tools necessary to continue the ‘Fight Tonight’ mission.

“Wing commanders have an associated risk attached to nearly every decision they make,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Rios, PACAF AFE command manager. “With the integrated data and refined TTPs, wing commanders now have additional information to help them make those tough decisions and continue executing their mission should a CBRN event occur.”

The TTPs are the brainchild of Col. Daniel Roberts, who now serves as 97th Medical Group commander at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

“Risk is ever-present,” Roberts said. “Looking at combat operations in a chemical environment brings the question to mind; ‘How does one balance and right-size risk to improve combat effectiveness?’ Thinking this way allowed us to improve human performance and the ability of our ground crews to turn aircraft in an effective manner so our combat forces are ready when called upon.”

The program’s tests and validations affected several base agencies to include the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons, 8th Operations Support Squadron AFE, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management, 8th Maintenance Group and the 8th Medical Group bioenvironmental engineering flight.

Participating Airmen tested the updated CBRN TTPs safely and efficiently by stepping, launching and recovering a flying mission in a simulated chemical filled environment.

The PACAF team is scheduled to validate every installation within the MAJCOM and ultimately will establish standardized PACAF-wide counter-chemical warfare aircrew protection measures. Efforts like this help ensure Kunsan AB maintains maximum combat readiness capabilities to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.

By SSgt Isaiah J. Soliz, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

US Army Units Hone Skills Together at Defense Nuclear Weapons School

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Units from the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command trained together during a radiological course at the Defense Nuclear Weapons School on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Soldiers from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command’s 1st Area Medical Laboratory and Nuclear Disablement Teams both participated in the Applied Radiological Response Techniques Level 2 course.

The five-day course is designed to apply radiological hazard theories and develop applied radiological problem-solving methods.

“Approximately 20 percent of the course is conducted in detector laboratories while the remaining course time is dedicated to hands-on radiological experiences and the interpretation of survey data,” said Capt. David D. Manzanares, a Nuclear Medical Science Officer from Nuclear Disablement Team 1. Originally from Miami, Manzanares has been in the U.S. Army for 18 years and served overseas in Baumholder, Germany.

NDTs contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological weapons of mass destruction infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries and facilitate WMD elimination operations. The U.S. Army has three NDTs — the NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals.”

The 1st AML identifies and evaluates health hazards through unique medical laboratory analyses and rapid health hazard assessments of nuclear, biological, chemical, endemic disease, occupational and environmental health threats. The one-of-a-kind medical laboratory is based on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Together with the 1st AML and three NDTs, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialists, as well as five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams.

Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command has units on 19 bases in 16 states that take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.

Tracing its roots to the Manhattan Project, the Defense Nuclear Weapons School provides training on radiological and nuclear weapons, incident command and response and CBRNE modeling for the U.S. Department of Defense and other Federal, state and local agencies.

The school is accredited by the American Council on Education, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State of New Mexico.

Col. Matthew J. Grieser, the commander of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, and his senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Jackie S. Mims, visited the Soldiers during the course.

Grieser is a native of Mulino, Oregon, who has deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq five times. He has also served in Haiti, Panama and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

“The skills gained from this course will make us even more effective,” said Grieser. “It takes teamwork to tackle the kinds of challenges that we confront and we have many great partners, including the professionals at the Defense Nuclear Weapons School.”

By Walter Ham

US Army’s 3d CR Troopers Test New CBRN Protection Garments

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

FORT HOOD, Texas—3d Cavalry Regiment Troopers took part in testing new Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear protection garments here Dec. 5-8.

The Chemical, Biological Duty Uniform (CBDU), is still in the testing phase but is projected to replace the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) and fielded in the next few years.

Features of the new CBDU improve on the fitting, comfort, weight, temperature regulation, and CBRN protection – much needed upgrades from the JSLIST Troopers are currently fielded, according to Tiffany Swidrak, a test support analyst for the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense – General Purpose team.

“We’re doing simple simulations by having the [Trooper] wear the garments and move around in them while we take measurements,” said Dr. Todd Garlie, a research anthropologist from U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. “It’s critical that we get Soldiers’ feedback on how the garments fit. If you don’t have good fitting equipment, you can’t perform your mission.”

The new CBDU is both lighter and cooler than the current JSLIST, mainly due to how it is worn. It is integrated into the duty uniform, rather than being a separate set of overgarments.

“It feels like you’re wearing a thicker set of pajamas,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Keel, a cavalry scout leader assigned to 4th Squadron, 3d CR. “I think it’s a big improvement to the JSLIST.”

The CBDU has been in the testing phase for several months and will soon be fielded across most branches of the military.

“Our goal at (USACCDC) is that we optimize the equipment,” said Garlie “The mission is simple. Protect the Soldier, bring them home safely.”

Story by SSG Christopher Stewart 

3d Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs Office

SOFWERX – AIM Micro Sensors Assessment Event Update

Friday, November 4th, 2022

SOFWERX, in collaboration with the USSOCOM, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Accelerator for Innovative Minds (AIM), will host a series of events leveraging their hybrid accelerator model to identify Micro Sensor technologies available now, under development, or anticipated to be developed in the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) areas.

There’s been a change to the timing of the AIM Micro Sensors Assessment Event (AE). Now, it’s takes place on 18-20 January. Subsequently, other event phases have been revised. Please visit events.sofwerx.org/aimmicrosensors for the most up-to-date information and to submit. 

Interested parties must submit NLT 23 November 2022 11:59 PM ET.

HHS Purchases Drug for Use in Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies

Saturday, October 15th, 2022

As part of long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is purchasing a supply of the drug Nplate from Amgen USA Inc; Nplate is approved to treat blood cell injuries that accompany acute radiation syndrome in adult and pediatric patients (ARS).

Amgen, based in Thousands Oaks, California, developed Nplate for ARS with support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

BARDA is using its authority provided under the 2004 Project Bioshield Act and $290 million in Project BioShield designated funding to purchase this supply of the drug. Amgen will maintain this supply in vendor-managed inventory. This approach decreases life-cycle management costs for taxpayers because doses that near expiration can be rotated into the commercial market for rapid use prior to expiry and new doses can be added to the government supply.

ARS, also known as radiation sickness, occurs when a person’s entire body is exposed to a high dose of penetrating radiation, reaching internal organs in a matter of seconds. Symptoms of ARS injuries include impaired blood clotting as a result of low platelet counts, which can lead to uncontrolled and life-threatening bleeding.

To reduce radiation-induced bleeding, Nplate stimulates the body’s production of platelets. The drug can be used to treat adults and children.

Nplate is also approved for adult and pediatric patients with immune thrombocytopenia, a blood disorder resulting in low platelet counts. Repurposing drugs for acute radiation syndrome that also are approved for a commercial indication helps to sustain availability of the product and improves healthcare provider familiarity with the drug.

US Army Reserve Officer Presents “Medical Care in a Radioactive Environment” to NATO Members

Sunday, September 4th, 2022

During his presentation at the Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers event on Aug. 3, 2022, in Athens, Greece, U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Eliot Fletcher, commander of the 491st Medical Care Area Support from Santa Fe, New Mexico, discussed the topic of radiation exposure in an increased global threat environment.

The CIOMR Junior Medical Reserve Officer Workshop provided North Atlantic Treaty Organization and partner nation junior Medical and Medical Support Officers a professional development program in a multi-national environment, focusing on NATO medical planning, civil-military negotiation training, and operation medical planning within a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear environment.

Fletcher, an Army biochemist, holds a doctorate in genetics and conducted his post-doctoral research in Radiation Biology, so his knowledge of radioactive environments and radiation injury treatment made him a perfect fit to present at the conference.

“The issue of operating in a radioactive environment is more critical today than it has been since the end of the Cold War,” Fletcher said. “Since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in February, there has been increased rhetoric surrounding the use of nuclear weapons and increased risk of a radiological incident.”

Fletcher discussed how ionizing radiation damages DNA and the body’s ability to repair the damaged DNA and continue normal cell function. (Ionizing radiation provides enough energy to disrupt the normal structure of surrounding materials, like living tissue. Tissue damage occurs when DNA repair is overwhelmed). A person’s typical exposure to background radiation is 2.4 millisieverts, or mSv per year, and at 100 mSv, there is a slightly increased risk of cancer.

Fletcher then examined the biology of radiation through five historical exposures. Hiroshima and Nagasaki both experienced extremely high exposure due to the use of nuclear weapons.

“Detonating a bomb high enough that the fireball does not actually touch the surface of the Earth, is called an air blast. Conversely, a nuclear bomb detonated at surface level, land or water, is perceived as a surface blast,” Fletcher said.

Both explosions were surface blasts, pulling debris into the air, leading to radioactive fallout. These explosions resulted in large numbers of people being exposed to high levels of radiation. To date, thousands of people are still tracked for elevated rates of cancer. Survivors had a significantly elevated rate of cancer, while their offspring showed no signs of increased abnormalities, and no detected elevation of the mutation rate.

The study of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (due to a reactor shutdown causing the Reactor 4 explosion) and the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2007 (due to an earthquake and ensuing tsunami damaging the cooling systems and resulting in a partial meltdown of the reactors and release of radiation) focused on increased health issues, acute radiation illness, and potential for cancer based on distance from the epicenter and exposure levels of radiation.

“The lessons learned from these radiological/nuclear incidents relate directly to the effects of specific doses of radiation on biology. They also taught us how hard it is to track people exposed to radiation and determine exactly their dosage,” Fletcher said. “This highlights the importance of being able to track how much radiation a Soldier is exposed to in order to treat that person specifically.”

Fletcher concluded the presentation drawing attention to the invaluable data gained from radiation during space travel and its applicability to the battlefield. Protecting against radiation in space is crucial, as some radiation particles can pass through the skin, damaging cells and DNA, and/or cause acute radiation sickness. However, unlike most environments, it is impossible to evade space radiation during space travel. Similarly, in a radioactive combat zone, it may not be feasible to rapidly escape from a radioactive environment.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought to the forefront at least two concerns, 1) an increased Global Threat of a radiological disaster and 2) that rapid ingress and egress will be difficult in large scale operations. When these two concerns are combined, it creates an environment for the warfighter in which we need to begin preparing to fight and operate for potentially prolonged periods in a radiological environment,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher received the CIOMR JMROW “Best Overall Presentation” award and will pursue a technical advisor position on the NATO CBRN working group.

Fletcher’s unit, the 491st MCAS, is currently assigned to the Command and Control CBRN Response Element-A, or C2CRE-A mission. When directed by the Secretary of Defense, the military CBRN Response Enterprise will conduct CBRN response operations within the U.S. and its Territories or outside the continental U.S. to support civil authorities in response to CBRN incidents in order to save lives and minimize human suffering.

The 491st MCAS conducts quarterly training exercises honing decontamination tactics and techniques and identifying and treating acute radiation syndrome and chronic radiation illness. Since 2019, the unit has trained in the Guardian Response exercise at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana, conducting a CBRN disaster in a controlled environment.

By SPC Ronald Bell, LTC Kristin Porter and MAJ Sherrain Reber

American, British Nuclear Experts Conduct Counterproliferation Exercise in United Kingdom

Saturday, August 20th, 2022

SELLAFIELD, England — American Soldiers from Nuclear Disablement Team 2 conducted nuclear counterproliferation training with personnel from the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense during an exercise in May.

The exercise was the first time one of the U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Teams, or NDTs, have trained in the United Kingdom.

Nuclear Disablement Team 2 is one of three NDTs from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier deployable all hazards formation.

As a part of the 2018 Department of Defense Nuclear Posture Review, the NDTs provide advanced forensics and attribution capabilities in support of overseas and domestic missions.

NDTs directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological weapons of mass destruction infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries and facilitate elimination operations.

In addition to the NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals,” the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty Army’s explosive ordnance disposal technicians and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity and five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams.

From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

Maj. Neal J. Trump, a nuclear operations officer from NDT 2, said the nuclear disablement team began planning for the exercise in 2020 but COVID-19 postponed it.

In May 2022, the exercise took place at multiple locations in the United Kingdom. NDT 2 participated during the first half of the month at the Sellafield site in northwest England and at the Weeton Barracks about an hour from Manchester, England.

“The exercise as a whole validated the Department of Energy Mobile Packaging Teams in the receipt and processing of material collected from nuclear facilities and also integrated the participation of personnel from the Department of Energy’s Plutonium and Uranium Verification Teams,” said Trump, an Iraq veteran and former infantry officer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has commanded Soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard).

The exercise offered a unique training opportunity for NDT 2 to characterize an industrial-scale reprocessing facility and to recognize the equipment and materials used there, said Trump.

In addition to seven Soldiers from NDT 2, four Soldiers from the other NDTs were able to participate in the exercise.

“This exercise presented a truly unique training experience for NDT 2 that will pay dividends for a long time to come,” said Trump. “Since there are currently no commercial reprocessing facilities for spent nuclear fuel operating in the United States, conducting training at Sellafield exposed team members to a portion of the nuclear full cycle that we rarely have the opportunity to work in and at a scale that nobody had witnessed before.”

Trump said the NDT Soldiers were able to conduct a reconnaissance and characterization of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, as well as perform sampling operations of highly accurate simulants from large negative pressure gloveboxes.

“The most enduring effect of the exercise, however, will likely be the excellent relationships we developed with Sellafield personnel that we hope to leverage for further training opportunities in the future,” said Trump.

During the exercise, NDT Soldiers refined procedures for detecting nuclear material and collecting gamma ray spectra, as well as packaging simulated samples of nuclear material to transfer to the NNSA’s Mobile Plutonium Facility.

“Perhaps most importantly, the exercise allowed the team to further develop our relationship with the subject matter experts employed by Department of Energy and NNSA. We hope that our participation in this exercise will open the door to future collaboration between the NDTs and the NNSA,” said Trump. “The highlight of the exercise, from my point of view, was the degree of interagency partnership building that was able to occur.”

At Sellafield, representatives from the NNSA’s Uranium Verification Team and Plutonium Verification Team not only observed the training but also participated in discussions about how both organizations can better support one another in the counterproliferation fight.

NDT 2 Soldiers also used the U.S. Department of Energy’s reach-back process while in the United Kingdom to send requests for information to a U.S.-based team of subject matter experts who were able to provide technical guidance in support of the NDT characterization of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant.

“At the conclusion of our training, NDT 2 prepared and presented an exploitation brief to senior members of the 20th CBRNE Command and leadership of the NNSA’s Nuclear Compliance Verification and Mobile Packaging programs,” said Trump. “This interaction further served to demonstrate the capabilities of the NDTs to key interagency partners and acted as a relationship-building venue between key [Department of Energy] professionals and NDT personnel.”

Glen L. Jackson, the White Team lead from the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, said the NNSA, U.S. Department of Defense, U.K. Ministry of Defense, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and countless other mission partners came together to coordinate and deconflict the numerous training activities occurring simultaneously.

Jackson added that meticulous planning ensured that each organization could achieve their respective training objectives while also supporting the broader goals of the exercise.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is responsible for the monitoring, verification, removal and securing of high-risk nuclear and radiological materials and equipment around the world that pose a potential threat to the United States and the international community.

“Overseas deployment exercises provide the opportunity to practice not just these missions but also the foundational logistics required to execute them through the integrated and collaborative efforts of NNSA and Department of Defense,” said Jackson, who has served as a contractor at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina for 31 years.

Jackson was also the White Team leader when 20th CBRNE Command NDT personnel participated in Exercise Relentless Rook at the Savannah River Site in 2021.

Jonathan P. Spencer, a manager at the Sellafield site, said joint training exercises give his site invaluable opportunities to share knowledge and learn from the other participants.

“While Sellafield’s challenges are different in many ways to the challenges faced by the NDT, there are some similarities,” said Spencer. “Seeing how other teams approach tasks like characterization, sampling and radiation and contamination control is very instructive. There are many learning points from the exercise which will help inform our work in the future. Finally, Sellafield recognizes the important role the NDT performs and takes pride in being able to play a small role in the NDT training and exercise program.”

Spencer, who has worked at Sellafield Ltd. for 12 years, credited the success of the exercise to advanced planning done by NDT 2 Team Chief Lt. Col. Ronald C. Lenker and Maj. Neal Trump with his Sellafield team, including Astelle Batty and Gareth Bawden.

“It was evident that the attention to detail resulted in the successful running of the exercise,” said Spencer. “Due to the nature of work on the Sellafield deployments, such as this exercise while on paper may appear simple in reality are not straightforward.”

The exercise was the first at the Sellafield site’s new Glove Box Training Facility.

“It was a great pleasure and honor for Sellafield Ltd to host this visit within [the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant] and our Glovebox Training Facility,” said Spencer. “It was a particular highlight to see NDT members calmly, methodically and professionally tackle the very challenging scenarios we created for them in this new facility.”

By Walter T. Ham IV

Low-Cost Tech Shaping Modern Battlefield, SOCOM Commander Says?

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

ASPEN, Colo. — In his 38 years as a soldier, across theaters ranging from the Middle East to Europe, the commander of Special Operations Command says he never had to look up. But those days are ending.

“I never had to look up because the U.S. always maintained air superiority,” Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke said during a discussion Friday at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. “We won’t always have that luxury,” he added.

Low-cost quadcopters and larger unmanned aerial vehicles are disrupting the status quo as militaries and insurgents increasingly rely on them, the general said.

“When Russia is running out of them for Ukraine, and they’re going to Iran to go buy more, [that] should cause us all a bit of concern because you can see how valuable that they can be in the future fight,” he said.

U.S. and partner forces have largely focused on ways to defeat enemy drones after takeoff, but Clarke said there is also a need for interagency discussions on ways to disrupt supply chains to prevent them from taking off.

But first, there must be a discussion on norms and authorities for their use, he said. With a “very low” cost of entry for some of the small unmanned systems, the general said some countries may want to use drones to move patients or supplies. Medical transport vehicles are protected under the Geneva Conventions.

Chemical, Biological Weapons

Clarke said the Defense Department has charged Socom with looking at another threat that is inexpensive to produce and use — chemical and biological weapons.

ISIS used chlorine and mustard gases in Iraq and Syria, he said. Russia has used chemical weapons against its political allies — on its own soil and elsewhere, Clarke added.

“The fact that someone in the basement in Mosul [Iraq] with a few lab sets can do this,” proved that it’s a simple process to create these weapons, the general said. Chemical and biological weapons are a terrorist weapon system, he said, and ISIS and al-Qaida will continue to use them because they instill fear.

“As we go into the future, we have to be prepared for that eventuality … and look for methods to continue to combat it,” Clarke said.

Cyber Threats

Though U.S. officials have said government and other critical systems are receiving daily cyberattacks, the general said he’s equally concerned with the way adversaries are using cyber to exploit the information space.

Malign actors are spreading misinformation and disinformation online, and these have had an impact on elections, he said.

Misinformation is false or misleading information — a mistaken breaking news announcement, for example. Disinformation is meant to intentionally deceive the recipient.

Clarke said cyber gives adversaries a quick route to spread false information that can damage the U.S. cause.

“The message, if you look at the internet and what is happening from the African countries, its U.S. sanctions against Russia are causing food shortages in Africa,” the general said. “So we’re being blamed for people in Africa not getting to eat. … We have to look at what is on the internet and get the truth out about what is happening. And I think we have to be able to do that as a government a little bit faster than what we’re doing today.”

By Claudette Roulo, DOD News