NEWS | May 17, 2018

U.S. Army 300th Chemical Company and Kuwait Land Forces develop synergy through joint training

By Army Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos Task Force Spartan

A subject matter expert informational exchange between the Kuwait Ministry of Defense Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Battalion, Kuwait Land Forces (KLF) and the U.S. Army’s 300th Chemical Company, 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion took place, April 25.

The joint partnership training opportunity created an awareness of both differences and similarities in procedures and doctrine among more than 45 soldiers of the 300th Chemical Company and KLF, to enable the soldiers to work together seamlessly in a real-world scenario, should the need arise.

 

Opportunities for interoperability

 

“The information that we’re going over today is relative to Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) operational decontamination. We will exchange information, demonstrate our procedures, and gain some understanding of how the Kuwaitis perform the same tasks,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Franzone, CBRN Officer, 28th Infantry Division. “Then we will assess capabilities and look for opportunities for interoperability in the event of a potential future weapons of mass destruction (WMD) event.”

Although the day was overcast, the heat of Kuwait was amplified by the soldiers’ Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear. Both U.S. and KLF soldiers demonstrated their capacity to endure arduous situations as they practiced multiple iterations of MOPP gear exchange and decontamination drills.

“Our forces and even our Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) are not especially different,” said Sgt. Brandon Benjamin, team leader, 3rd squad, 2nd platoon, 300th Chemical Company. “We could easily, very fluidly, operate with them on a joint task if needed. We would just need to negotiate very simple matters that we could define in the moment if necessary.” 

In the joint partner training scenario a vehicle was simulated to have been contaminated by a radiological weapon of mass destruction. U.S. and KLF soldiers systematically decontaminated the vehicle together, using an M-26 joint service pump. Subsequently, the operator as well as the vehicle occupants performed MOPP gear exchange at a nearby area. 

“They were able to clean the vehicle to a level that we could still maintain our fighting capability, and the soldiers were able to demonstrate their ability to change out their protective equipment and return to the fight,” said 1st Lt. Jared Schwab, 2nd Platoon leader, 300th Chemical Company.

“Today’s joint training provided a good foundation for future training events. We worked with their leadership to develop this scenario, and we worked with them during the scenario to see how much we could provide to our interoperability future goals, in case we had a real-life scenario.” 

 

"We’ve been building a lot of good rapport with them both professionally and personally, so that we can all learn and work together."Sgt. Brandon Benjamin, team leader, 3rd squad, 2nd platoon, 300th Chemical Company

 

The importance of relationship building to interoperability was underscored during the training. Camaraderie is important to all soldiers, and these troops were no different. They shared meals together and engaged in lighthearted competitions, such as arm wrestling, during their break periods.

“I think our soldiers are benefitting from not only the professional rapport that we are building, but the camaraderie with KLF troops is really important as well,” said Benjamin. “There’s this trepidation when you’re working with a new group that you don’t want to offend or upset, so it creates this stand off — but we’ve been building a lot of good rapport with them both professionally and personally, so that we can all learn and work together.”

Although the KLF troops will continue to work with other American forces during future rotations, their training with the 300th Chemical Company, 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion provides a firm foundation of American methodologies to enable future discussions of variances and allow for a continuum of skills.

 

Working as a team makes everything easier

 

“Learning from a book or having it passed down through briefs, you’ll never get it the same way as being there face-to-face working together and going through it step-by-step,” said Benjamin. “Seeing where there is confusion, as well as where there is harmony is important. Most of it is harmony. Most of it works fluidly, but you’d rather know that you disagree here, in a peacetime environment in this very, very pleasant place, than when you’re in a hot zone in your full MOPP gear and you’re running low on air.”

First Lt. Nawaf T. Al-Awadi, assistant commander of training, Kuwaiti Battalion of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Kuwait Land Forces, agreed.

“The benefit to training with U.S. Army troops is our exchange of techniques and experiences,” said Al-Awadi. “I think there are some differences in the details of how we do our decontamination, and we need to know what those details are, so we can work together in real situations. Working together makes our relationship stronger and makes us more powerful, so we can fight stronger. Working as a team makes everything easier.”