MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Kicking a ball through a line of buckets and into a goal is a simple enough task under most circumstances, but 27 Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit found that wearing head-to-toe protective gear can complicate everyday tasks.
Personnel from the MEU's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) reaction force, which includes troops from each of the MEU's major subordinate elements, spent a day here becoming more familiar with their protective gear, August 9.
The day's events were part of the enhanced CBRN defense course, which has been preparing the CBRN reaction force to work with non-military, hazardous-material detection and protective equipment, here since July 31.
The CBRN reaction force's mission is to provide the MEU with advanced detection and containment of CBRN hazards, said Staff Sgt. Matthew M. Quinton, 26th MEU CBRN chief.
Instructors from the Battelle Memorial Institute, a civilian corporation contracted by Marine Corps Systems Command, and CBRN Marines from the MEU conducted the training
Providing the MEU with a well-trained CBRN reaction force that is confident in its abilities and equipment is what the training was all about, said Andre C. Lawhorn, a CBRN instructor with Battelle.
"If a CBRN threat presents itself, this training could save a lot of Marines," Lawhorne said. "That's our focus."
The Marines and Sailors donned splash-protective suits and self-contained breathing tanks during the training and went through several stations designed to increase their ability to perform ordinary functions while wearing the equipment.
The method in which the activities were presented helped keep the day's objective fresh in the students' minds, said Cpl. Phillip M. Guzman, a telephone maintenance technician with Combat Logistics Battalion-26, 26th MEU.
The Tulsa, Okla., native explained that most training is pretty conventional but, "Today, we did stuff like screw nuts onto bolts and operate calculators in our suits."
"We still got the training, but it was better because it was presented in a different way than we're used to," he continued.
The troops attended several hours of lectures after completing the exercises, covering subjects such as establishing zones of contamination and how to contain and divert spills and leaks.
The enhanced CBRN defense course is scheduled to conclude August 24, after a week of simulation and certification exercises.
The 26th MEU continues to train here as a part of a rigorous six-month pre-deployment training program.
For more information on the 26th MEU, go to www.26meu.usmc.mil