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464th Chemical Brigade

The 464th Chemical Brigade actually has about three-fourths of the Army's chemical assets in the Army Reserve. The integration of all these units for the overall mission is very unique, since they seldom function in this capacity.

The brigade is responsible for detecting any chemical and biological agents the enemy might use. The brigade's role is crucial to protecting all soldiers in the fight from these munitions. The brigade supplies support in three areas: smoke, reconnaissance and decontamination.

Smoke companies within the chemical battalions generate smoke clouds to mask the presence of the American forces from the enemy. The smoke teams within these companies may blow these clouds to mask a bridge crossing, for example. Smoke platoons are under the operational control of infantry units to perform these missions.

Reconnaissance (Recon) teams are placed at nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) areas of interest. These areas are generally main supply routes, such as bridges. The teams use their German-made vehicle, called the Fox, to explore these areas.

Sensors on the Fox detect chemical agents. Upon detecting a chemical agent, soldiers on the vehicle press a button, and a sign posting the agents detected pops out onto the ground. Soldiers do not even have to leave the vehicle. The Recon teams also use their Biologically Integrated Detection System (BIDS) vehicle to reconnoiter for biological agents. Using this vehicle, soldiers collect biological samples for analysis. Decontamination (decon) teams assist the Corps by decontaminating equipment after a chemical attack. These teams establish and operate predetermined sites for equipment decon. Personnel decon is a function of these units, too. Decon teams also assist other units with decon operations from time to time.

When the 99th Regional Support Command's 464th Chemical Brigade claims to have "heavy smokers," they aren't kidding. With the Johnstown, Pa. unit serving as the command and control element for more than 2,000 soldiers representing U.S. Army Reserve units from 13 states and seven of the 10 CONUS-based RSCs, the smoke generated during Rio Grande 99 is made it the largest exercise involving smoke operations since World War II. The lion's share percentage of the units here to "blow smoke" are within the chemical corps and oriented to smoke generation. At times, with smoke generation platoons "smoking" from up to 12 smoke points simultaneously, the air throughout the entire Dona Ana Maneuver Area bordering U.S. Route 54 through Fort Bliss wore a veil similar to what one might expect to see on an early evening in foggy London. The use of smoke in battlefield deception is a time-honored method of conducting and concealing troop movements under a dense, cloudy cloak of obscurity. But while an enemy once couldn't shoot what it couldn't see, ongoing developments in ground weapons systems using sensitive heat sensors are now able to attach a heat signatur to targets in the chemical haze, even a human body's 98.6 degrees.

Most of the soldiers participating in Urgent Victory 2000 at Grafenwoehr wore their Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) suits. When they don their protective masks, should the progress of the battle demand it, chances are the 464th Chemical Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve, Johnstown, Pa., will be involved in that decision. The brigade provided chemical support to the V Corps.

During Urgent Victory, some members of the brigade staff have been tasked to perform liaison duties as well. In addition, the brigade must learn to operate the Maneuver Control System (MCS) that is used to relay information to the Corps staff during the battle. But, training is ongoing to meet the needs of the brigade, and brigade personnel look forward to meeting the additional challenges that the exercise will provide.



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