New cadets learn how to survive chemical attack during CBT

By Spc. Kelvin Johnson Jr. 40th Public Affairs Detachment - July 20, 2022
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New cadets anxiously stand in a cloud of gas that emanates through the air protected only by a protective mask.

“Gas, gas, gas!ˮ The new cadets yell as they have seconds to put on their protective gas masks and use the correct techniques to ensure it is safe to breathe in the gas chamber as they receive Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Training with the 83rd Chemical Battalion, 59th Chemical Company, Fort Drum, New York, between July 14 through today at the U.S. Military Academy.

  On the battlefield, chemical attacks can be deadly, therefore, new cadets are trained on how to survive the attack during their Cadet  Basic Training.

“The gas chamber and training are important for cadets to complete because it allows them to develop a sense of familiarity with the gear they use,ˮ said Staff Sgt. Brian Henneman of 83rd Chemical Battalion, 59th Chemical Company.

During the process, the task force cadre carefully trains the new cadets on how to put on their masks and signal to others when a chemical threat is in the air. The new cadets have a  maximum of eight seconds to don the black gas mask and tap their own heads as they shout “gas, gas, gas,ˮ before the threat engulfs the room.

“We want the cadets to understand in any CBRN situation they must apply their mask on quickly, before signaling others because anything more than eight seconds of exposure is unsafe,ˮ Henneman said.

After showing they can apply their gas mask in under eight seconds when randomly exposed to unsafe gas, cadets then enter the gas chamber. The dark, stone-made building with sealed windows built to keep the gas in, allows the cadets to receive the full effect of 2-Chlorobenzylidene Malononitrile, a type of tear gas.

Henneman stated the new cadets entered the chamber with their gas masks on. After an instructor closed the door, they exercised, performed jumping jacks or ran in place. This allowed cadets to breathe hard and ensured their mask was fully functional. 

After the equipment had worked properly, cadets then removed their masks, inhaled the harsh gas, which made it hard to breathe, burnt their eyes and opened their pores.

“The removal of the mask allows the cadets to understand what our adversaries have. It is not the exact gas but it gives them a feel of what the real deal is. Chemical warfare is no joke,ˮ Henneman said. “As Soldiers or future Soldiers in the Army, we must prepare for anything that happens and this training allows us to be ready and trust our equipment.ˮ