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1/25 MOPP-s up the "Big 7"

Story by Cpl. Ryan J. Skaggs
Story Identification Number: 200321810517

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.(February 18, 2003) -- Reserve Marines with 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 2nd Marine Division began a rigorous training schedule here Feb. 10 after activating in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and other contingencies that may arise.

Since reserve Marines are only afforded a limited amount of time and training facilities at their reserve sites, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines is taking advantage of the opportunities here, including training for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

"Instead of accomplishing just the minimal requirements for any particular training element, the Marines are now able to reach the maximum potential of their abilities," said Maj. Lew J. Jones, commanding officer, Company C, 1st Battalion.

Enabling the Marines to be proficient on the battlefield, the unit is refreshing its skills in the Big 7, consisting of seven basic Marine training exercises: rifle qualification, pistol qualification, swim qualification, the Marine Corps martial arts program, basic skills training, a physical fitness test, and NBC defense training.

Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense exercises are a significant component of the training evolution with the recent worldwide threats. Marines receive this type of training in "boot camp" and Marine Combat Training; however, reserve Marines with 1st Battalion have rarely received sustained NBC defense training since then due to the lack of facilities and equipment. The training environments found here allow the Marines the opportunity to advance in their skills.

"Instead of being at a phase where we are crawling, we are now training at a level where we can walk and then advance to a point where we can run with it," said Chief Warrant Officer-2 Jim L. Bailey Jr., NBC defense officer, 1st Battalion. "We borrowed the package used by the active-duty Marines here for our training." Instructors gave classes on chemical warfare and the correct procedures for Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear, consisting of a field protective mask, over garments, protective gloves and protective boot covers. With proper use, the gear will shield the Marine from the dangers of a chemical or biological agent.

"It's extremely critical for the Marines to know the procedures for accurate use of the MOPP gear," said Cpl. Kevin A. Boswell, NBC defense chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion. "We are here to train them well and train them safe."

The Marines also learned how to properly use MOPP gear before entering the gas chamber and experiencing an environment with a riot control agent called 0-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, or CS gas. The Marines removed their masks and exposed themselves to the immediate effects of the tear gas: burning eyes, nose and throat; coughing; mucus secretion and nausea. They replaced and cleared their masks and then exited the chamber. Upon exiting the chamber, the Marines ran an NBC trail of obstacles while in full gear and, when finished, each assisted a fellow Marine in properly removing MOPP gear.

"The gas chamber and course are used to build a Marine's confidence for the possibility of a real encounter," said Bailey. "Properly trained Marines with proper equipment won't have a problem in an NBC environment."

The Marines will continue in the Big 7, round-robin training, qualifying in the other exercises once they have completed the required NBC training.

"We are all proud to be Marines in our unit and to have the opportunity to prove our worth to the active-duty Marines in Camp Lejeune, where I believe is the 'hub' of the Corps," said Bailey.

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