CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- In an effort to greatly improve their ability to handle a dangerous chemical attack, Marines from all major subordinate elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed several Enhanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical training exercises at Combat Town April 26-27.
On hand to aid with the exercises were Marines and civilians from Marine Corps Systems Command, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force and Battelle, a global science and technology enterprise that develops and commercializes technology.
"Any NBC training is good to have every so often because NBC sometimes gets overlooked," said Cpl. Justin T. Walsh, a Cleveland, Ohio, native and NBC chief for Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines. "But after [Operation Iraqi Freedom], everyone wanted classes and this is good knowledge to have."
During the training, the Marines simulated receiving a call from a host country with an unknown chemical in the air.
They responded by sending in teams of Marines to identify the chemical and to determine a recommended course of action for the country.
The training was full of the usual ups and downs, but by the final exercise, the Marines demonstrated just how much they had learned.
"This is just like everything else, practice makes perfect," said Walsh. "The criticism has helped these guys work better as a team."
Not long after they arrived at the site, Marines began setting up their command post. Those in the reconnaissance teams began putting on their Level A Suits, which resemble space suits and allow the Marines to breathe from self-contained breathing apparatuses, enabling them to operate safely in a harmful environment.
The Marines working the decontamination site also had all their equipment up and running shortly after arrival on the scene.
"These guys did really well today," said Sgt. Matthew W. Regner, a Spooner, Wis., native and NBC chief for MEU Service Support Group 24. "They had their final protection line up within minutes. They had their [reconnaissance] teams ready in minutes and they found all of the casualties with no simulated loss of life."
One benefit of the training was that it gives the Marines from different sections of the BLT a chance to learn CBIRF skills.
"Doing this gives them (the Marines) confidence to do something and pull it off," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shaune T. Conner, NBC officer, BLT 1/2, who praised the level of training offered by the Marines from CBIRF. "It is tough to get these guys trained up to doing this. But it is well worth it and they pulled it off well."
Enhanced NBC training also helps prepare the MEU to face this situation should it arise during its upcoming deployment.
"This is the type of training that allows the Marine Corps to become more self-sufficient," said Regner. "It makes us a better force in readiness."
Next up for the Marines of the 24th MEU is their Training in and Urban Environment Exercise near the town of Morgantown, W.V.