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Archive for the ‘CBRNE’ Category

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

Army Units Train for Nuclear Forensics Mission During Exercise Prominent Hunt

Saturday, April 16th, 2022

BETHANY BEACH, Del. — Highly specialized American Army units from the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards command trained for interagency nuclear forensics missions during Exercise Prominent Hunt at Bethany Beach, Delaware, April 4-7.

The 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command’s Nuclear Disablement Team 2 and 3rd CBRNE Response Team qualified to serve as a part of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collection Task Force at the conclusion of Prominent Hunt.

NTNF members who have recently served on prepare-to-deploy orders for the task force — including members of NDT 3, 2nd CRT from the 46th Chemical Company, Army Public Health Center and AFTAC — served as observers and controllers during the exercise.

Soldiers from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based 3rd CBRNE Response Team, 9th Chemical Company, trained for their NTNF mission of collecting ground samples through crawl, walk and run phases.

“Prominent Hunt promotes tactical and operational readiness to react in a nuclear emergency to meet the Army’s current demands,” said 1st Lt. Samantha K. Roberson, the team leader for CRT 3. “This mission specifically gives our Soldiers a further understanding on the radiation and nuclear portion of our mission-essential tasks. These lessons they can internalize and apply to future missions and carry on to their future Soldiers.”

According to Roberson, CRTs have to stay ready for all four weapons of mass destruction threats: chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.

“This task force gives us a rare opportunity to exercise our radiological and nuclear capabilities. In this particular mission, we stress our ground sampling and escort tasks alongside the FBI and Department of Energy to create a joint task force,” said Roberson.

A former enlisted Soldier from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Roberson was commissioned into the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in August 2019 after earning a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Toxicity from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana.

“I felt drawn to the Chemical Corps as it naturally pairs with my degree,” said Roberson. “The Chemical Corps has provided me with the opportunity to learn more of what I’m passionate about, while protecting my fellow Soldiers from any CBRN threats.”

NDTs directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological WMD infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries. They also facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.

As the U.S. Department of Defense’s nuclear subject matter experts, Nuclear Disablement Teams serve as an informed interface between the CBRNE Response Team and the Department of Energy technical experts. The U.S. Army’s three Nuclear Disablement Teams — NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals” — are all stationed on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Maj. Stacey M. Yarborough, the deputy team leader for the Nuclear Disablement 3, served as an observer during the exercise.

“The NDTs are the DoD component lead,” said Yarborough. “We exercise mission command over elements from a CBRNE Reconnaissance Team, the Air Force Technical Applications Center and augmentations from the 20th CBRNE Headquarters.”

Yarborough said NDTs plan and battle track ground collection missions through a variety of Department of Defense communication systems.

“Our Medical Science Officer and Health Physics Technician noncommissioned officers monitor all members of the ground collection team for radiation exposure forward of the DoE hotline,” said Yarborough, a Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction officer from Felton, Delaware.

Lt. Col. Ronald C. Lenker, the team leader for NDT 2, served as the task force leader during exercise, a role usually reserved for an FBI Special Agent.

“The Ground Collection Task Force is led by the FBI as the task force leader and the Department of Energy also provides a deputy task force leader,” said Lenker. “In this particular scenario, no FBI agent was available, so I’m the acting task force leader for this exercise.”

An 18-year Army veteran from Wiconisco, Pennsylvania, who has deployed to Kuwait and Iraq, Lenker has participated in Exercise Prominent Hunt six times, including three exercises as a player and three as an observer and controller.

“Prominent Hunt is extremely important to the NTNF GCTF,” said Lenker. “This exercise demonstrates several agencies from the federal government can come together, swiftly form a cohesive task force and accomplish the mission In this case, attribution for the detonation of a terrorist initiated improvised nuclear device.”

Lenker said the task force came together to navigate around obstacles during the exercise. When one system went down, the operations team used a joint mapping tool in Humvee to track the plume of a simulated detonation.

“The highlight for me is seeing my Soldier and Airman teammates overcoming challenges as they arise,” said Lenker. “It’s this type of problem solving skills that set our military personnel apart from any other military in the world in my opinion.”

Story by Walter Ham

Photos by Marshall R Mason


As a part of an interagency task force lead by the FBI, the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collection Task Force gathers and packages samples of radioactive fallout that enable partner agencies to determine the source.

Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the U.S. Army’s active-duty explosive ordnance disposal technicians and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.

From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards during joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.

Revision Military Partners with Airboss Defense Group to Provide LazrBloc Visors for Low Burden Mask

Monday, September 27th, 2021

Revision Military has been partnered with Airboss Defense Group (ADG) to manufacture the clear inserts and multiple outsert tints for the ADG Low Burden Mask (LBM) for the past several years.

ADG LBM with Revision LazrBloc FT-AB and GI-AB laser protective visors on display at Revision’s DSEi booth.

In response to global events, Revision adapted several of their proprietary LazrBloc® formulations to LBM outserts – allowing users to quickly don laser protection while wearing their LBM. LazrBloc visors encompass a suite of unique laser protective lenses, specially developed for precise laser eye defense against a variety of light energy wavelengths, including harmful and invisible near-infrared energy.

The LBM laser visors are available in two sizes – Medium/Large and Large/Extra Large, and in two LazrBloc Formulations – FT-AB and GI-AB.

Product will be available soon – contact [email protected] to inquire.

Avon Protection Recognise Partnership with NSPA at DSEI

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Paul Hammond, Chief of Staff at NSPA met Avon Protection at DSEI following their first successful year of delivery against the 10-year contract to supply a complete CBRN personal respirator system.

Understanding the operational flexibility required by NATO forces, Avon Protection were awarded a 10-year contract to provide a unique modular respirator system to protect NATO troops. The FM50 respirator and a suite of filters are at the core of the personal respirator system selected by NSPA.

The FM50 is designed to protect troops in the most demanding of environments. Developed in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense to counter the multiple CBRN threats met in modern war fighting, anti-terrorist and peace-keeping operations, the FM50 provides the operational flexibility and interoperability required by NATO Allies and Partner forces.

The FM50 is the most operationally proven and widely deployed battlefield respirator in the world. Many NATO Nations and Partners including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Norway and more recently Lithuania have already utilised the framework contract to equip their military personnel with the FM50.

Commenting on the visit, Steve Elwell, Vice President – Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, Avon Protection said, “Today we celebrate the successful ongoing partnership between NSPA and Avon Protection. NSPA is a strategically important customer to us, and we look forward to continuing to work together to provide NATO with world leading military capabilities.”

5th SFG(A) Chemical Recon Det Conducts Sensitive Site Exploitation Training

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

The Special Forces Chemical Recon Detachments are entirely under appreciated.

Soldiers from the 56th Chemical Reconnaissance Detachment (CRD), 4th Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), conduct sensitive site exploitation training during their 1st Special Forces Command validation exercise in Dugway, Utah, from Aug. 2, 2021 to Aug. 13, 2021. The exercise evaluates each CRD’s technical and tactical skillsets in order to deploy in a combat environment. (U.S. Army photos by SSG Frances Ariele Tejada.)

Soldiers, Marines Test New Chemical, Biological Systems at Dugway APG

Saturday, July 17th, 2021

DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah — Soldiers from Fort Drum and Joint Base Lewis-McChord teamed with Marines from Camp Pendleton to test new tactical biological detection and chemical contamination indicator systems here.

Soldiers with the 59th Hazard Response Company and 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion along with Marines from the 3rd Marine Air Wing went hands-on with the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System (JBTDS) and the Contamination Indication Disclosure Assurance System (CIDAS), which indicates on chemical agent contaminants so decontamination can take place.

“These two operational tests have given my company the opportunity to focus on our critical war-time collective tasks of site assessment and decontamination and refine our tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Capt. Ryan Oatman, company commander of 59th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Hazard Response Company.

“The training benefit while conducting these operational tests to my unit’s operational readiness makes this tasking to support new materiel development a win-win.”

According to Test Officer Mr. Josh Smith of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, test data collected will be used to inform senior Army and Joint Service leaders on how effective, suitable, and reliable the JBTDS and CIDAS systems will be during real-world operations.

“Working with a test unit that is excited about and embraces the opportunity to train its Soldiers while providing valuable feedback on potentially new CBRN materiel solutions with considerations for its employment makes the hard work of operational testing worth it,” Smith said.

Smith explained the units will have employed the JBTDS and CIDAS systems during replicated security and sustainment operations through multiple days of tough, realistic training in the harsh Dugway Proving Ground environment.

“Since operational testing is about Soldiers and unit missions,” he said, “this test event is about making sure the systems developed are — and remain effective — in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers and units train and fight.”

By Mr. Edward M. Jagodzinski, Test Officer, Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command