PERRY, G.A. --
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense specialists assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit recently completed a five-day CBRN Hazard Advanced Training Course at the Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., May 20, 2023. This follow-on training included wide area searches, radiation dose mapping, sampling, site characterization and full mission profile events in a realistic environment, in order to enhance the MEU’s operational capability prior to deployment.
Taking place at the Guardian Center, an inhabitant town designed to train military and civilians in disaster response, a textbook place for CBRN training. Guardian Centers have been used to train first responders in preparation for natural disasters, bombings and CBRN related events. The 830-acre facility accommodates training to an array of organizations to include firefighters, police and government agencies.
“Chemical, Biological, Radiological attacks and explosives are threats most imminent to our country at this point in time,” said Brett Warmack, a CBRN Hazard Instructor at the Guardian Centers. “Teaching younger generations how to correctly respond to hazardous material cannot only mitigate risks, but also save lives altogether.”
A CBRN team is attached to every major subordinate command in the U.S. Marine Corps, including the 26th MEU, and are responsible for conducting CBRN defense monitoring, providing chemical detection, gathering biological agent collection and sampling, and executing protective measures and first aid to unit personnel.
The first few days of training began with instructor-led teachings, where the CBRN specialists practiced detecting hazardous materials, conducting chemical sampling and the reading of those samples. The culminating event of the training was a full mission profile event where MEU Marines suited up in full hazardous material protective attire and equipment in order to scan for radiation, recover a casualty and decontaminate a casualty.
“This training is a vital capability to provide the 26th MEU for a response to sensitive sites in a CBRN environment to conduct advanced reconnaissance, sampling and rescue operations while also aiding other nations while underway,” said Sgt. Anthony McDonough, a team leader and CBRN Specialist with the 26th MEU. “We are one of the few components of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to operate in such environments, therefore, it is vital to be ready and capable at all times,” McDonough continued.
Advance courses and training like this builds confidence in each individual Marine and allows them to train at a small unit team level. As the CBRN Marines prepare for their upcoming deployment, they have improved their capability and readiness to respond to and remove a chemical or biological threat such as weapons of mass destruction, spills or fires involving hazardous materials, as well as accidents involving those hazardous materials. With today’s current operational environment, hazardous material incidences are a real threat, and the 26th MEU’s CBRN team is more than ready and capable to respond.
The 26th MEU serves as one of the Nation’s premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the BAT ARG, the 26th MEU serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagements zones of an adversary.