Fielding Readiness Through Training
An interview with Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Army CBRN School, Colonel Jeffrey Brodeur.
By Kevin Hunter
CST & CBRNE: Please speak to your role and functions as Assistant Commandant, U.S. Army CBRN School, Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
COL Brodeur: As Assistant Commandant, my role is to continue to implement the vision of the previous Commandant and Chief of the Chemical Regiment, Brigadier General Peggy Combs. The task is both simple and complex. She articulated a clear vision; however, there are many challenges in trying to program resources to increase our capabilities over the next seven to ten years.
CST & CBRNE: From a readiness perspective, please speak to the mission/role CBRN School has and continues to play in DoD- and nation-wide CBRN hazardous material response.
Col Brodeur: The U.S. Army CBRN School (CBRNS) trains and educates all of our Army’s CBRN Soldiers—active duty, Reserve Component, and National Guard. The Chemical Corps Regiment represents our nation’s only large-area hazardous material assessment capability. This capability is unique for many of our partners, friends, and allies, and we can easily imagine having a regional conflict where we are the only CBRN technical response force trained and ready to assist. Our continued role in DoD readiness is to remove CBRN readiness obstacles, coordinate for solutions, and provide world-class training facilities as a venue for individual and small-unit collective training.
CST & CBRNE: In terms of an evolution in training and education, please describe some of the primary focus areas at the core of the CBRNS curriculum as well as some specific training facilities at the CBRNS.
COL Brodeur: The War Department established the Chemical Warfare Service on 28 June 1918 to manage chemical offensive and defensive programs. Today the U.S. Army Chemical Corps continues to be the nation’s leader in protecting the force and the homeland from CBRN threats and hazards. The CBRNS provides the nation with soldiers, leaders, and teams trained in CBRN operational skills. Our mission extends from battlefield CBRN threats and hazards to meeting the homeland security needs in consequence management, joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multi-national CBRN training and education.
Our craft and technical expertise is in high demand not only overseas but also at home. Our Dragon Soldiers and Enterprise are already looking beyond the known to determine how the regiment can continue to adapt to provide our Army with the best combatting weapons of mass destruction and CBRN hazards response force possible.
Now, more than ever, our nation is counting on us to be prepared for, to prevent the use of, to protect against, to respond to, and to recover from the accidental release or deliberate use of these hazards. We have reinvested our resources to evolve into a force that plans, assesses, characterizes, advises, and mitigates all hazardous materials through the range of military operations. Our training now incorporates hazardous materials training at differing echelons so all students leave with certifications that immediately make them a valuable asset with a unique capability.
The E.F. Bullene CBRN Defense Training Facility (CDTF) is a one-of-a-kind training facility in DoD. Training is conducted in a live hazardous material environment: a fully contained indoor climate-controlled, negative air-pressure facility with a visitor-observation area. To increase confidence, students can use one of six training pads to do dry runs and [practice] the decontamination process before moving into the facility. Training aids inside the facility include an HMMWV, an M-113 armored personnel carrier, and a helicopter.
The 1LT Joseph Terry CBRN Responder Facility consists of the main building, which houses classrooms, office space, training bays, and a sensor and detector lab, plus five other training areas. The urban training area, consisting of four buildings connected by tunnels, is used for multiple CBRN scenarios for group and individual training. The intermodal containers training area uses a collection of International Maritime Organization intermodal shipping containers to train individuals and groups in site characterization, search, survey, and sampling procedures on possible harmful substances entering the U.S. by cargo ships.
A concrete road intersection, called the vehicular training area, trains CBRN responders to perform multiple operations used to control a variety of tanker truck spill scenarios. The railcar training area contains 200 feet of rail and four different types of railcars used to conduct training on a number of CBRN attack and spill scenarios. A cave complex is used for CBRN identification and response training.
CST & CBRNE: How is the CBRNS working to promote positive relationships with joint service and civil elements responsible for CBRN hazardous material response for enhanced readiness at home?
COL Brodeur: We partner with Army North (ARNORTH) and Northern Command (NORTHCOM) as a technical resource and extension of their staff to provide subject-matter expertise with respect to all hazards material response. We also host the Joint Senior Leader’s Course, which gives senior military and civilian personnel working in various civil governmental agencies and the joint community a first-hand appreciation of the CBRNS and the Chemical Corps Regiment’s capabilities.
CST & CBRNE: What challenges do you see facing the CBRNS in the coming years?
COL Brodeur: First, our CBRN personnel throughout the Chemical Corps Regiment and our CBRN organizations in our active and Reserve components (such as the Army and Air National Guard’s Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams, or WMD-CSTs) are so successful at managing CBRN incidents and hazards that they mitigate issues before they become national headlines. This can create a perception that the training resources and funding are not required to maintain proficiency and readiness. Thus, they run the risk of not being considered for additional resources as our leaders look at shrinking the defense budget.
Second, the level of interagency and intergovernmental coordination required in the performance of these critical missions is by nature intricate and complex in its requirements. We must be vigilant of this system and be prepared to work through its complex intricacies to maximize our response if and when an incident occurs.
CST & CBRNE: Feel free to discuss any accomplishments or objectives your office has achieved or is working on.
COL Brodeur: The training, organizational, doctrinal, and materiel solutions that we have recently developed and implemented allow us to do much more than just mitigate against chemical and biological warfare threats. We now have the capability to respond to the entire spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, in both domestic and foreign environments. We are also working hard to ensure that the next generation of CBRN warriors is fully qualified to meet future threats. We need our nation’s best and brightest enlisted soldiers, noncommissioned, warrant, and commissioned officers to come on board and serve in our country’s defense.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of CST & CBRNE Source Book.