SOFIA, Bulgaria –
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 773rd Civil Support Team, 7th Mission Support Command, exchanged chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear expertise with Bulgarian Soldiers from the 38th CBRN Defence Battalion during a military-to-military exchange held here, May 25-28, 2021.
The event was designed to enhance relationships and interoperability with Allies and partner nations. Soldiers from both militaries exchanged their unique CBRN experiences, lessons learned, and tactics, techniques and procedures used when training in or confronting CBRN threats.
The 773rd is highly sought after for mil-to-mil exchanges as it is the only unit of its kind in Europe; an all Army Reserve Soldier CBRN reaction force capable of supporting military installations throughout the U.S. European Command area of responsibility and local civil authorities.
“(We briefed) our capabilities and discussed decontamination procedures, CBRN command and control, medical, and operational response,” said Lt. Col. Mary J. Durham, commander of the 773rd. “The 38th CBRN Defence Battalion gave an overview of the similar topics, followed by demonstrations of sampling procedures, reconnaissance, and decontamination.”
Durham added that members of the 773rd were able to follow along with the Bulgarian CBRN Soldiers as they conducted the demonstrations.
“We saw procedures and processes that aren't very different than ours,” said Maj. Natalya Ivanova, commander of the 38th CBRN Defence Battalion. “I found it useful when (the 773rd) discussed their decontamination procedures for better interoperability and if possible, we will copy the best from their processes and procedures.”
773rd Soldiers also visited the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence where the Chief of Environmental CBRN Defence briefed his capabilities, Chemical Corp structure, future plans and limitations.
“This engagement was helpful to begin building a stronger and more cohesive partnership between our unit and our Bulgarian CBRN counterparts,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Branning, 773rd team chief. “I learned that there are many ways to accomplish the objectives of the assigned mission regardless of equipment, manning or uniform.”
Durham said she’d like to see continued developing of CBRN partnerships to include Defense Support to Civil Authorities.
“The Bulgarian military are professionals and masters of their assigned craft which makes additional joint events beneficial to anyone that can participate by learning new techniques and tactics to operate in a joint environment,” said Branning.