At Fort Irwin, Atropian Phoenix integrated 20th CBRNE Command personnel with ground combat units from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Lancers,” from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. South Korean troops from the Republic of Korea Army’s Chemical Biological Defense Command also trained with 20th CBRNE Command personnel at the National Training Center.
Lt. Col. Brant Hoskins, commander of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort), led CBRNE Task Force 110 at Fort Irwin, the live component, of this first-of-a-kind exercise.
CBRNE Task Force 110 was made up of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units, chemical reconnaissance and decontamination units, CBRNE Response Teams (CRTs), a Nuclear Disablement Team (NDT) and a Heavy Mobile Expeditionary Laboratory. The task force also included a CBRNE Response Team from the Republic of Korea Army.
“The scenarios that we encountered at the NTC were very realistic and challenging,” said Hoskins. “The enemy, the environment and the operational tempo gave my Soldiers the opportunity to practice their craft in very tough conditions, which will ultimately serve them well if they have to do it in combat. The exercise forced the CBRNE task force to effectively integrate with maneuver and other supporting units to conduct a coherent counter WMD (weapons of mass destruction) campaign,” he continued. “We see this as the wave of the future for our formations.”
The Aberdeen Proving Ground-based CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA), a U.S. Army activity made up of civilian scientists, validated its Heavy Mobile Expeditionary Laboratory, or HMEL, during the exercise. Inside the laboratory tent on Fort Irwin, eight civilian scientists from CARA tested environmental, chemical, biological and explosive samples that were collected during simulated combat operations.
Brig. Gen. JB Burton, the commanding general of 20th CBRNE Command, said integrating CBRNE forces with maneuver units training at the U.S. Army’s premier Combat Training Center significantly increased the realism of the training.
“We have upped the complexity ante in partnership with the leadership of the Combat Training Centers by introducing the full range of CBRNE hazards our Soldiers may be exposed to on the battlefields of today and tomorrow—from improvised explosive devices to chemical and biological laboratories producing weaponized toxins to radiological facilities and counter-proliferation opportunities,” said Burton.