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Lance Cpl. Joseph Kinch (right), a bulk fuel specialist with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, practices using a Joint Chemical Agent Detector during a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear decontamination course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 3, 2015. Hands-on training with CBRN equipment allows Marines to get a higher level of understanding with gear they may be used to save other Marines’ lives.

Photo by Cpl. Sullivan Laramie

Ready for anything: Marines train for CBRN response

6 Mar 2015 | Cpl. Sullivan Laramie 2nd Dental Battalion

Approximately 20 Marines with 2nd Marine Logistics Group participated in the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear decontamination course on Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 2-6.

The course gave Marines from different units and a variety of occupational specialties the knowledge and experience with CBRN equipment to protect themselves, fellow Marines and vehicles against hazardous agents and radioactive environments.

“It’s a week-long course for Marines and sailors to get the training they need to be able to respond and decontaminate personnel and equipment in a CBRN environment,” said Lance Cpl. Wesley Buzzard, a CBRN defense specialist and Raleigh, North Carolina, native. “Many countries have the means to develop biological weapons or nuclear weapons. [The Marines] are going to get the know-how and practical application so when they go back to their commands they’ll be who their units look to if CBRN events happen.”

CBRN incidents are not limited to biological or nuclear weapons, however. Some hazards may be caused by natural disasters or equipment malfunctions such as the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl disasters in Japan and Ukraine. The course prepares Marines and sailors for both types of scenarios.

“When you train a couple people out of every unit, it makes us more ready as a whole,” said Lance Cpl. Devon Pero, a ground radio repairer with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, and native of Cranston, R.I. “If a crisis occurs, if Marines deploy somewhere, those who are trained for this can say, ‘I know how to deal with this.’ If everyone pays attention and listens and they recall the information they learned in class, they’ll be able to handle the situation. If more people got this training we’d be more ready for combat, more ready for emergencies and more ready to be on the ground, helping where we’re needed.”

Marines learned how to react to the immediate threat of – and protect themselves against – CBRN attacks that could be launched in a variety of ways. Of equal importance to the class was the detection and decontamination equipment the Marine Corps uses to clean hazardous materials.

“During the course we teach detailed troop decontamination to clean troops who have been out and exposed to contaminants,” Buzzard said. “We also teach the Marines how to properly assess and scout for radiation or chemicals using detection equipment. They’ll leave here with the knowledge to go back to their units and be the ones who will help lead Marines during those situations.”

Courses taught by the CBRN platoon are vital to forming a layer of defense that cannot be provided by marksmanship skills and flak jackets. With only approximately 875 CBRN Marines in the service, having more personnel with an understanding of CBRN defense is crucial to the safety and security of the Marine Corps and the United States.

“It’s very important to draw from all types of specialties,” Buzzard said. “Should a large-scale event happen, we’re going to need to draw from other units. Having Marines out there who have that capability – that knowledge – is going to help other units’ readiness to respond to any situation. Part of being a Marine is being always ready, always adaptive.”

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