Decontaminating a helicopter may seem foreign to 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade troopers who have spent the better part of the last 12 years maintaining and flying aircraft over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the All American aviators’ mission set changes, however, training for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats plays an essential role in the unit’s operational readiness.The Pegasus Brigade teamed up with the 101st Chemical Company to refresh troopers’ understanding of aircraft and personnel decontamination procedures, June 21, kicking off the brigade’s portion of the 82nd Airborne Division’s joint operational access exercise.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Evans, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd CAB, has been in the Army for more than 20 years and said that this is the first time since 9/11 that the brigade’s focus has incorporated this type of training.
“We haven’t had a viable threat that would cause us to need aircraft decontamination training,” Evans said. “But since we are drawing down and our mission is changing, it is time to refresh our knowledge so we can be prepared no matter what.”
Aviators with the 1st Bn., 82nd ARB and 1st Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry Regiment, 82nd CAB, trained on how to properly decontaminate the AH-64D Apache and OH-58D Kiowa helicopters.
“Many of the junior troopers have never seen this type of thing done, so we want to ensure they are comfortable with the use the M26, which is the decontamination apparatus for our helicopters, in the event they might have to use it. It is basically like a pressure washer,” said 1st Lt. Victoria Mbachu, chemical officer, 1st Sqdn. 17th CAV, 82nd CAB.
The troopers also trained to properly put on and exchange their joint service lightweight integrated suit technology. The suit is used to protect military personnel in the event of a possible CBRN exposure.
“Many of these guys have not had the need to use the JSLIST in the past few years,” Mbachu said. “So it is always good to practice these skills because you never know when it might be needed.”
Moving forward, the 82nd CAB leaders plan to continue this type of training as they prepare to move into their duties in support of the U.S. global response force.
“This is the right training, along with all the training the Soldiers will receive this week as we prepare to go whenever we are called upon,” Evans said. “We will ensure our personnel have the skills they need to fight, win and continue to carry on our mission.”
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