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1/12 trains to decon on the go

Story by Staff Sgt. Robert Carlson
Story Identification Number: 200321122038

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Dec. 8, 2003) -- The Marines and Sailors of 1st Bn., 12th Marines, recently completed a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation on the Big Island, but the final test of their ability to fight in a nuclear, biological or chemical environment was proven when they successfully executed an operational decontamination evolution at the Boondocker Training Area in December.

The scenario was to show an evaluator from 12th Marine Regiment from Okinawa that the Marines know how to process contaminated equipment and personnel, and get them back in the fight.

While the exercise could have been done as part of the MCCRE, the logistical challenge of taking the required amount of water to the Pohakuloa Training Area made completing the training at the Boondocker Training Area much more practical.

"When a commander knows his men and equipment are contaminated, he can make the decision to do this type of operational decontamination," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Burns, 12th Marines NBC officer. "The idea is not to completely wash the vehicles and personnel, but to get the gross contamination off, and change out the protective suits so they can get back in the fight."

Burns said that protective suits can protect for much longer, but in this scenario, the commander decided to change after six hours.

More than 30 Marines from Alpha, Bravo and Headquarters batteries participated, and the exercise was a great chance for the NBC experts from the batteries to cross train and learn new techniques.

"We're also doing this to help train technical experts within the batteries on this type of operational decontamination," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Chaney, 1/12's NBC officer. "We would do a more thorough cleaning after the Marines and equipment were completely away from the contaminated environment."

The Marines did a hasty decontamination of a humvee, a 7-ton truck with a trailer, and a squad of Marines. Using hot water and high-pressure, the decon process dissipated the simulated chemical agent, and helped the Marines and the gear stay in the fight without further spreading any contamination.



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