ABOARD THE USS PELELIU -- Marines and sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) took part in an elaborate Enhanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (E-NBC) training exercise during Operation Eagle Resolve 2006 at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Qatar May 10.
Eagle Resolve is a US Central Command and Joint Chiefs of Staff sponsored exercise conducted in collaboration with the Qatari Government and other member countries of the Gulf Cooperative Council.
The exercise scenario began when mock terrorists detonated several mock bombs in the soccer stadium. The blast immediately killed some spectators and filled the air with biological and chemical agents that sent thousands scurrying for the exits. Within seconds, what was once a happy place filled with cheering soccer fans, now became a scene of pandemonium.
The objective of the exercise was to evaluate the capabilities of all applicable Qatari ministries to successfully conduct crisis management and response and activate the Qatari Crisis Management Center and multi-national Regional Coordination Center. The exercise was also part of the Qatari government's preparation for the Asian Games, scheduled for Doha in December, according to the 11th MEU (SOC).
The mock attack quickly sent several local and national Qatari government agencies into action as they set out to request assistance from neighboring allies, US State Department officials and US military forces in the area.
Through the US State Department and Department of Defense, an E-NBC reaction team and security element from 3rd Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, Calif., was called into action.
Not long after the attack, the Marines and sailors, transported by two CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopters, landed in the stadium parking lot.
"Once they got off the aircraft the Marines setup very quickly," said Capt. Jeffrey Dyal, company commander, Company C. "They did a great job, considering this was the first time many of them had taken part in an exercise like this," said Dyal.
While the security element looked out for their safety, the E-NBC team used NBC detection devices to survey and monitor the landing zone and surrounding area for contamination.
According to Sgt. Thomas M. Clouse, NBC chief, BLT 1/4, the team found the area free of contamination thanks to early efforts by the local Qatari NBC team who created a safe zone for the MEU to operate in.
This safe zone was needed in order to allow for the processing and transportation of the injured civilians to the intermediate staging base at the Doha Airport, where they would be treated by local authorities, said HM2 Jennifer L. Hill, hospital corpsman, E-NBC Team. In the event that the area was not safe, his team had the capabilities to create a safe zone, said Clouse.
Clouse previously worked at the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force in Indian Head, MD, and has trained extensively for possible mass casualty incidents with many different E-NBC teams including those from the District of Columbia and New York City Fire Departments.
From the scripted chaos and confusion, Clouse said his team learned some valuable lessons. His team learned that the importance of maintaining flexibility, having patience and slowing things down in order to convey to everyone the importance of sticking to the plan and established safety procedures.
"You can't sacrifice efficiency and safety in the name of speed," said Clouse. "There were casualties that needed immediate medical assistance, however, they also needed to be checked thoroughly for contamination, so that we didn't end up with casualties of our own," said Clouse.
By taking their time to treat and decontaminate the victims before they were transported out of the controlled area, his team ensured the health and well being of those persons who would have come in contact with the contaminated victims later in the treatment chain.
"The teams involved adapted very well and with the short amount of training they had, they performed exceptionally well in a very realistic setting," said Clouse.
Hill said she was impressed with the level of sophistication and the number of role players, Qatari government agencies and international participants who were involved in the exercise.
According to Hill, this was her first experience with this type of exercise and working with people of different cultural backgrounds. Hill said she treated many nationalities in the mock exercise, who spoke different languages and who had varying injuries including “"burns, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness and some who suffered from the affects of nerve agents."
Clouse, Dyal and Hill deemed the exercise a success. Clouse said he was impressed with the level of teamwork that was displayed between the MEU and the multinational players and the level of information sharing that took place. "Each country member seems to be able to accept ideas for new and better methods" to combat the use of weapons of mass destruction.
To follow the 11th MEU throughout its current deployment, log onto www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.