CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- Hikes, helo dunker training, and table three shooting. These are only a few training exercises that the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit has participated in over the last few months. One of the many aspects that Marines take pride in is always being mission capable. The 11th MEU makes it a priority to maintain the highest mission readiness in all aspects of combat.
On Oct. 16, the MEU continued to do so. The 11th MEU conducted practical application training of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Individual Survival Measures. To simulate combat like conditions, combat conditioning was performed, while in protective equipment.
“The importance of CBRND training is to teach Marines immediate action drills for CBRND related responses,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Fordham, the CBRND chief and Ballston Spa, N.Y. native with the 11th MEU. “Ultimately, it is to increase a Marine’s survivability during combat operations in a CBRND environment.”
Collectively, the unit was instructed on how to properly conduct operator level preventative maintenance checks and services on their issued M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask, which is the standard issue protective mask the Marine Corps uses in combat.
The unit then was instructed on the different Mission Oriented Protective Posture levels and how to properly upgrade to each level to avoid contamination. CWO 3 Kevin Quigley, the CBRND officer and native of Bristol, Penn., instructed the MEU on how to upgrade from MOPP level zero to MOPP level four.
The MEU was then broken into five teams and rotated between six different training stations with each station instructing basic CBRND techniques, procedures and equipment.
When the instructors yelled “rotate” each group gathered their litter, ammo cans and water jugs and carried it to the next station.
“This training is not only mandated for all Marines and sailors by the Marine Corps Order 3400.3G, but this training could save lives,” said Quigley. “Everyone thinks it is easy from the outside observing, but MOPP gear is an operational condition that many have not trained with in recent years. Our intent today is not to haze or hurt anyone, but to ensure that our personnel are trained and understand the added stressors associated with a CBRND environment.”
Today, many countries have discarded the use of chemical weapons, but they still exist in many areas and are still considered a worldwide threat.
"It's not a question of if an attack could happen, in today's world it is a question of when,” said Quigley. “These Marines and sailors need to realize that and train to that threat as we prepare for worldwide service. We will need to be prepared to conduct our mission under any conditions, deadly or otherwise.”
After MEU personnel finished all the stations, they were brought back together to participate in operational decontamination exercises and to observe a patient "cut-out" in a simulated contaminated environment.
The next training event that the MEU is scheduled to participate in is a hike that will feature a CBRN training evolution via the use of the riot control agent 2-chlorobenzal malononitrile, otherwise known as “CS”. This will force Marines and sailors to apply the same defense tactics that they just retrained on.