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Feature Stories

NEWS | July 7, 2018

U.S., Kuwaiti soldiers continue chemical weapons response training

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles Task Force Spartan

U.S. and Kuwaiti soldiers sharpened their chemical and biological weapons defense skills during a recent training that focused on decontaminating and caring for casualties of a weapons of mass destruction event. Chemical officers with the Kuwait Minister of Defense Weapons of Mass Destruction Defense Directorate joined Soldiers with the 300th Chemical Company, 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade, Task Force Spartan, for the June 25-27 series of lectures which were followed by a practical exercise. 


Personnel with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th Infantry Division/TFS and the 75th Combat Support Hospital also participated, along with soldiers with 35th Engineer Brigade, Missouri Army National Guard; 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah Army National Guard; and 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade.


Trainings such as this one are critical to maintaining readiness, event organizers said, since medical providers, medics and soldiers in chemical and biological defense sections do not frequently exercise these skillsets jointly. This Medical Management of Chemical and Biological training event was hosted by U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) and marked the latest in a series of trainings designed to improve interoperability between Kuwaiti and U.S. Soldiers for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) cooperative defense.


“The purpose of the training was to build capability for treatment of chemical and biological weapons casualties,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Franzone, 28th Infantry Division/Task Force Spartan chemical officer. “It’s a capability that is not routinely exercised but is very important, particularly for units, like ours, with a defense support of civilian authorities (DSCA) mission. So, it was a good opportunity to train and exchange techniques with our Kuwaiti counterparts.”


Task Force Spartan personnel leveraged the planned ARCENT training of U.S. personnel by inviting Kuwaiti chemical and medical soldiers to participate, thus turning the event into an informal information exchange. 


The overall goal of the series of training events is to ensure appropriate procedures are in place for decontamination, evacuation and treatment of chemical and biological contamination casualties in the event of a WMD attack. Capt. Abdul-Aziz Hamad Al-Muteri, a Kuwaiti chemical officer, said the training is valuable because it provides an opportunity to share knowledge.


“We have the same goals and the same procedures,” he said. “I think it is important to continue training together.” 


The participants reacted to different patient decontamination scenarios that required them to follow specific procedures for protecting themselves while treating casualties. Soldiers had to communicate and work together to treat simulated casualties while wearing protective gear such as gas masks and chemical-protective suits.


Lt. Col. Dr. Donald Kimbler, deputy chief, Chemical Casualty Care Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD, served as the lecturer. He stressed that responders need to quickly recognize the symptoms of CBRN poisoning and treat casualties while also protecting themselves.


Kimbler reviewed persistent and non-persistent nerve agents and explained how nerve agents attack the body. He also reviewed the administration of ATNA (antidote treatment nerve agent) and CANA (convulsant nerve agent antidote) using auto-injectors carried by soldiers.


“If a soldier becomes a casualty, you use their ATNAA and their CANAA; yours is for you,” he said.


“Immediate decontamination is very important for treatment and care of a nerve agent,” Kimbler said. “Protect yourself. Get used to your MOPP gear,” Kimbler said of practicing in the chemical-protective mission oriented protective posture suit. “All this treatment can be done in MOPP four. Practice starting IVs with your gloves on.”


Breaks during the two days of lecture gave participants a chance to get to know each other and discuss material presented during the classroom portion of the training. The simulated-casualty exercise was conducted in a nearby parking area to take advantage of an overhead canopy as morning temperatures quickly climbed into triple digits.


“Participants’ attitudes were strong for the duration of the training simulations despite the challenging conditions,” Franzone said.