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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2016

Chemical Soldiers share their recipe for success

By SPC Christopher Hernandez 345th Public Affairs Detachment

"We’re having more incidents of chemical and biological weapons being used against civilian and military places all over the world,” said Staff Sgt. Walter Bonin, a CBRN specialist with the 340th Chemical Company. “We’re training to be ready because it’s happening more and more.”

“We’re divided by platoons that do three specific functions — reconnaissance, heavy de- contamination, and troop decontamination,” Bonin said.

The training scenarios performed by the 340th Chemical Company tests the coordination and teamwork among the three platoons.
“Our mission today was to conduct a thorough decon to support a recon element,” said 2nd Lt. Nicolette Lerro, 4th Platoon Leader of the 340th Chemical Company.

During the route reconnaissance missions conducted by the unit, all recon elements were struck with simulated cluster gas attacks, prompting immediate action from the motorized decon and troop decon elements. These elements operated simultaneously to move affected equipment and personnel out of the danger zone to the thorough decontamination process.

“We ran four vehicles through the detailed equipment decontamination line, and we ran 20 personnel through the detailed troop decontamination line,” Bonin said.

“What we try to do is to move to a clean place so that a dirty unit can get away from the fight, get them safe and secure, and clean them efficiently,” Bonin added.

The training exercises have also helped new members of the 340th Chemical Company to augment their skill sets and become more confident in their field.

“This training was useful because it happens in real life and we need to know how to de- contaminate personnel and vehicles,” said Pfc. Ellis Booth, a CBRN specialist with the 340th Chemical Company.

Unit leadership focused on both the operational and safety aspects of the training.

“My goal is to make sure that the Soldiers are safe, and that during the training, no equipment is lost,” Bonin said. “So what we do is pick areas that are safe, secure based on mis- sion parameters, and effective for us to operate.”

According to Lerro, the Soldiers and the Airmen of the 340th Chemical Company have expressed utmost satisfaction in the realism and active roles they had during training scenarios.

“My platoon sergeants and NCOs are really on top of their stuff and very high-speed,” Lerro said. “The Soldiers have extremely high motivation, and they want to be out here and train so that when we do go downrange, we’re ready.”

The 340th Chemical Company will continue their training operations in support of CSTX, which is slated to conclude here on Aug. 26, 2016.