Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)




















JUNE 21, 2000























Major General John B. Sylvester was born at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from Texas A&M University in the Class of '67, and entered the Army as an enlisted soldier.


He was commissioned from Infantry OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia in l968. After attending the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 13th Armor and later the 1st Armored Division Headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, serving consecutively as a Tank Platoon Leader, Battalion S3 (Air), Tank Company Commander and later Aide de Camp to the Commanding General. In 1970, he was assigned to the 2d Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in the Republic of Vietnam, as a Platoon Leader. Returning from Vietnam in 1971, he served in the 194th Armored Brigade at Fort Knox, where he commanded a Tank Company in the 5th Battalion, 33d Armor, and later a separate Armored Cavalry Troop, I Troop, 17th Cavalry.


Subsequent assignments have included additional Air and Armored Cavalry Platoon and Troop Command in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, US Army Europe; Senior Maneuver Instructor at the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Instructor in the Department of Military Instruction at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York; G3 (Operations) Officer at the Headquarters, AFCENT Reserve Corps, Maastricht, The Netherlands; Brigade S3 of the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division in Wiesbaden, Germany; and Commander, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor in Wildflecken, Germany.


Upon graduating from the United States Army War College in 1987, Major General Sylvester assumed duties as Director, Joint/Combined Unit Training, Headquarters, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was the Commander of the 1st (Tiger) Brigade of the 2d Armored Division from 4 October 1989, and commanded the Brigade during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, attacking to destroy Iraqi forces and sieze Kuwait City with 2d Marine Division. He inactivated the Tiger Brigade on 20 May 1991 and reactivated it on 21 May 1991, redesignating it the 3d (Grey Wolf) Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Major General Sylvester retained command of that organization until October 1991. From October 1991 until January 1993, Major General Sylvester served consecutively as the Director of the Command and Staff Department and Chief of Staff of the US Army Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky. From January to November 1993, he was the Director of the Center for Army Tactics, US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Departing for Fort Riley, Kansas, Major General Sylvester served for a year initially as the Assistant Division Commander (ADC) for Support, and then as the ADC for Maneuver of the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One.


In November 1994, Major General Sylvester assumed duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G2/G3 of the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in Rheindahlen, Germany, and subsequently deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina on NATO's first operational deployment for Operation Joint Endeavor in December 1995. From September 1996 until September 1998, Major General Sylvester served as the Director of Operations at Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), Brunssum, The Netherlands. His most recent assignment, from August 1998 until July 1999, was the Assistant Chief of Staff, Military Operations, Headquarters, Stabilization Force, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since July 1999, he has been serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia.


Major General Sylvester's awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with V Device (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Ancient Order of St. Barbara, and the Honorable Order of St. George. Major General Sylvester and his wife Becki have one daughter, Tina Marie, who lives and works in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee. I am Major General John B. Sylvester, Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Fort Monroe, Virginia. I appreciate the opportunity to represent TRADOC and the Army and provide testimony on this important subject.

TRADOC has two primary missions: to prepare the Army for war and be the architect of its future. TRADOC ensures synchronization of the doctrine, training, leader development, organizational structure, and materiel readiness, ensuring the Army is the best that it can be and that our solders are trained and ready. We accomplish our mission on 15 installations across the United States. We have 27 schools, about 10,200 instructors, and provide training to over 390,000 active and reserve component soldiers

TRADOC is responsible for institutional, unit, and self-development training programs for all soldiers, leaders, civilians, and units. We provide a progressive, developmental, and life long learning experience for leaders and soldiers that complements and enhances their experience in the field. My direct scope of responsibility is staff supervision of our schools such as the U.S. Army Chemical School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and individual training of active duty, reserve component, and international military student personnel.

I am accompanied today by Colonel Thomas W. Klewin, Assistant Commandant of the Chemical School, who brings technical expertise to the subject of the hearing, to discuss the Army's training on individual protective equipment, specifically the M40-Series Protective Mask.

The November 1999 report from the Joint Service Integration Group Process Action Team on the protective mask identified areas of concern with technical manuals and technical orders on preventive maintenance; insufficient individual training to maintain fielded protective masks; the need for greater leadership emphasis on training and maintenance of the masks; and storage of protective masks. I will briefly address these areas of concern.


The readiness of a protective mask must be judged against criteria that can be evaluated during training, and the procedures must instill confidence in the soldier that his equipment is functional. Just as a soldier must pay careful attention to individual weapon maintenance so that it will perform as designed during combat, so too must protective mask maintenance be performed so that the soldier will have the same degree of confidence in its capabilities. The Army remains very concerned about the readiness and safety of our soldiers. We have long recognized that chemical and biological protection on the battlefield is best assured by a combination of good training, command emphasis, conducting Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) to standard and by periodically testing the soldier mask and garment system for proper fit and function. We continue to believe that a soldier with a properly fitted and maintained protective mask, along with the protective garment, has excellent protection against battlefield chemical and biological agents.

Enlisted Training

We regard institutional training as the foundation for our training system. Our Basic Combat Training contains three hours of hands-on instruction on the mask, including preventive maintenance and mask care and cleaning procedures. Additionally, all enlisted soldiers are required to pass a hands-on test on preventive maintenance before they can graduate from Basic Combat Training. The preventive maintenance is initially trained in our schools and sustained in the units. Without sustained practice, however, these skills diminish, and require additional training. One of the techniques we use to encourage training is the Common Task Test (CTT). This is a standardized, hands-on test given by the units annually. When a task is selected for the CTT, soldiers practice until they can meet the test standards. A current NBC task in the CTT includes: Protect yourself from chemical and biological injury/contamination using your assigned protective mask. The task, Maintain Your Assigned Protective Mask, has been added to the list of tasks to be tested by all soldiers beginning in October of 2000.

Officer Training

Our Second Lieutenants receive Protective Mask Preventive Maintenance training during their Pre-Commissioned phase of training, not during their institutional instruction. However, some schools such as the Chemical School, have instituted refresher training on this task and the young officers are tested in a hands-on mode. Current course outlines contain a block of instruction on the Protective Mask.

Using the Operator's Manual

Technical Manuals (TMs) are developed and issued for each piece of equipment fielded by the Army. Operator maintenance forms the bedrock of Army maintenance. The TM provides all needed information for operating and maintaining the equipment. For any equipment, it is critical to use the technical manual for performing preventive maintenance to ensure no steps are missed and proper actions are completed.



Correctly performed and timely preventive maintenance is important for the successful operation of all equipment. It is especially critical to the correct operation of the Protective Mask. Mask preventive maintenance is an issue that requires continual command emphasis at all leadership levels. This is an area defined as lacking rigor by the report generating this hearing. The Army clearly requires a plan to emphasize the Commander's role. To facilitate this, the U.S. Army Chemical School has sent several messages to Army units stressing the importance of mask maintenance.

Centralized Storage & Maintenance

In the past some units have established NBC rooms for centralized storage and maintenance of NBC equipment. Some units issue NBC protective equipment to soldiers and sub-units (platoons) for storage and maintenance. There is no data to support centralized storage increasing the likelihood of enhanced maintenance. Circumstances in different units require different solutions. Army units at company level are authorized an NBC NCO or Specialist to conduct training and advise the unit commander on NBC matters. Centralizing masks will create the impressions that the unit NBC NCO/Specialist is responsible for mask maintenance, not the individual, and will decrease the accessibility of the individual to the mask for training. At times, because of personnel shortages within the NBC specialty, unit level NBC personnel are either not assigned, thus forcing the unit to divert another soldier to the task, or are assigned at a rank lower than authorized. Both of these circumstances pose challenges for training, specifically for the maintenance and repair tasks they must perform. A revised training program will be fielded in FY 01 that meets this training deficiency. This revised NBC Defense Course is a two-week course for training additional duty NCO and Officers, with a one-week NBC NCO module specifically geared to train the maintenance and logistics tasks required by unit NBC NCOs. The highlight of this program is a CD-ROM Job Aid containing NBC references, tasks, and required forms, carried away by the students attending the one-week add-on module. Students attending the Chemical Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course will also receive the CD-ROM.

Future Protective Masks

The Joint Service General Purpose Mask is a developmental future protective mask envisioned to contain a number of improvements to the current system of masks. Among the improvements are: reduction of sharp edges, such as eye lens retraining rings and drink tube connecting blocks, expanding the wearer's vision by using a single eye lens, streamlined maintenance and the ability to drink larger volumes of both hot and cold liquids. Joint Operational Requirements Document maintenance requirements for the JSGPM include color-coding of components requiring PMCS and identical and interchangeable parts, assemblies, and sub-assemblies.

Training is the core of Army readiness. It defines success on any battlefield and we could not be more proud of our soldiers, leaders and civilians. Despite the challenges we face in this new operational environment, schools such as the U.S. Army Chemical School continue to produce the best trained and best led soldiers in the world.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony today.

Join the mailing list