View Full Version : Marines train for toxic threats

12-14-07, 07:11 AM
Marines train for toxic threats

December 14, 2007 - 1:07AM

U.S. Marines have to be prepared for anything, including the unthinkable.

When Washington, D.C., mail workers found a fine powdery substance - later identified as the lethal toxin ricin - in a letter addressed to the White House in 2003, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialists with the Marine Corps were called in to sweep and test the area.

One of those Marines, Charles Galloway, now a civilian contractor with IEA, uses the experiences he gained in the Corps to train new Marines on how to function in stressful CBRN situations.

CBRN defense specialists with the Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force have spent six weeks training with Galloway, learning the latest CBRN techniques and equipment. On Thursday, Galloway and other instructors put the Marines through a grueling exercise designed to test their readiness to deploy in the event of a CBRN attack.

Instructors set up a fake postal facility at a building used for training by Camp Lejeune firefighters. The training scenario had "mail workers" sorting packages when a box was opened and a powdery substance spilled out. Suddenly, "the mail workers found it hard to breathe and their eyes began to water," Galloway explained to the Marines in the scenario set-up.

One of the workers passed out; and the other, covered in contaminants, ran out of the building. CBRN defense specialists arrived and immediately began to set up a perimeter around the building.

"The Marines are trained to secure the area and breach the building within an hour," Galloway said.

With Sgt. Zachary Cortez calling the shots from the staging area, the Marines worked furiously to get their gear unloaded and their CBRN suits on.

"Don't let him past the decon line," Cortez shouted to the most forward Marines when the role-playing victim began to act panicked and tried to cross the perimeter.

Marines in full CBRN gear had the "mail worker" stand in a containment tub made out of yellow, rain jacket-like material, remove his outer clothes and place them in a plastic barrel. CBRN defense specialists then sprayed him down with water and decontamination chemicals.

After securing the perimeter, a reconnaissance team in full CBRN gear moved from the decon line to the building. The two-man team entered the front door of the "mail facility" and discovered the second injured victim.

Using specialized equipment, the team pulled the injured victim from the building and turned him over to a second team. The second team brought the victim to the decon line and then the medical tent.

The recon team carefully went around the building testing for airborne toxins. After completing the search, the recon team went back inside the building.

Instructors had placed a training mannequin in the back room set up as a third casualty with a letter next to it. The letter contained yeast which the instructors said represented anthrax.

"They have been trained not to open anything," Galloway said. "They will double bag it and take it for testing."

Galloway watched the Marines at work and said he was impressed with their proficiency.

"The training Marines get now is the best ever," he said. "We are training them so they will be able to train other Marines."

The exercise continued into the hotter-than-normal December afternoon with Marines checking and rechecking the area for contaminants.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Richard Miller said he has been in CBRN defense for seven years and the new hands-on training is the best he has ever seen.

"The training is outstanding," he said. "With the training we are receiving we will be able to assist civil authorities in case there is some sort of attack or mishap."

Contact police reporter Lindell Kay at lkay@freedomenc.com or 910-554-8534. To comment on this story or to read others' comments go to jdnews.com.