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Active Duty and National Guard work CBRN operations with Allies in Slovakia

By Capt. John Strickland March 22, 2017

LEST, Slovakia -- Members of the Indiana National Guard work alongside Allies and active duty members to improve their skills in reacting to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear response, and search and rescue techniques during Toxic Lance at Training Center Lest from March 20-23, 2017.

Toxic Lance, a two-week-long exercise that incorporated CBRN assets from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Indiana National Guard and active duty members of the 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, highlighted the bonds created through the state partnership program.

The state partnership program links a state's National Guard with equivalent forces of a partnered country. The program, implemented in 1991 and included only 3 countries in the Baltics, now spans the globe and incorporates 79 nations.

"We may not speak the same language, but we are all Allies and when push comes to shove we are willing to work together," said Sgt. 1st Class John Hoffman, observer and controller with the Indiana National Guard. "When we do have to work together we are perfectly capable of doing that."

Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. commitment to a persistent presence throughout Europe, provided the opportunity for members of the 588th BEB to further enhance the relationships that have been established through SPP and the Indian National Guard's continued efforts in the region.

"Having all of these agencies together allows us to do knowledge exchange," Hoffman said.

The soldiers and airmen from all three countries integrated their specialties into multiple scenarios that required them to work together for a common solution in response to a CBRN threat that included search and rescue efforts.

"With the multi-functional platoon you have personal decontamination, equipment decontamination and you have reconnaissance," Hoffman said.

A reconnaissance section from 588th BEB provided its expertise to the exercise with unique equipment capable of searching and testing a site for contaminates. The Indiana National Guard team is complimented with a search and rescue capability that is integrated into its decontamination unit.

"This is the first time we have integrated a reconnaissance element, our Stryker vehicles, into a decontamination effort," said Lt. Col. George A. Mitroka, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander. "It was really neat to see how the Indiana National Guard used the Strykers, used the recon team that we have in 3rd Brigade to look for other contaminations in the atmosphere while the decontamination mission was going on."


U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.

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