FORT PICKETT, Va. --
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense Marines conducted cross training with the Army National Guard and Air Force at Fort Pickett, Va., Sept. 14, 2012.
“Today we are out here observing the National Guard and are conducting patient decontamination,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Scott Myhra, Portland, Ore., native and 26th MEU CBRN officer in charge. “Cross training is important because any scenario that might come up – whether it be domestic or overseas – we would typically work in a joint environment. It is extremely beneficial being able to see what each service’s capabilities are.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Payne, Richmond, Va., native and CBRN enhanced response force operations sergeant, said, the more our branches work together, the more ready we’ll be in responding to a national emergency similar to the attacks on 9/11 or any other catastrophic event, either man-made or natural.
“We don’t always know who will be there first or who will be the closest in case we need to respond. Having the ability to work jointly and to understand how the others operate helps us put together a proper response and that will save lives,” said Payne.
Even though the guard and the Marines with CBRN train at the same military occupational specialty schoolhouse, once they go to their units, they may learn different ways of doing things.
“Once everyone gets to their elements I know everyone trains differently,” said Payne.
He said he wanted to show the Marines what the guard does on a civilian response and how to operate independently of a military structure.
“When we respond to an incident we don’t have an S-1 or an S-3. We fall under the incident command system that the federal government has,” said Payne. “Just about every fire department uses ICS so hopefully that is something the Marines do take away from this training. We want to show we have a dual role. Our chemical unit does have Army gear but they don’t use it for this training. They have to learn how to use the civilian equipment as well.”
Traveling to Fort Pickett gave the Marines an opportunity that could not easily be found at their home in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“The [Marine Logistics Group] regularly does this type of training, but the services – as far as us being able to reach out and connect with the National Guard or the Air Force – is not common,” said Myhra. “Basically, being out here, away from the Camp Lejeune environment, allows us to focus more on different types of training.”
It is important for CBRN to be proficient in their skill set because it may be essential in the aiding of humanitarian services.
He said, “An assessment and consequence management team for the MEU brings a capability set where we can go into an environment during natural disasters and be able to identify contamination or hazards that exist in those areas and conduct site characterization.”
This is part of the Marines pre-deployment training program. The 26th MEU is scheduled to deploy in 2013.