Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
WAIPAHU — Dismounted Recon Platoon Soldiers from the 71st Chemical Company teamed up with the 85th Civil Support Team, Utah National Guard, to react to a biological incident at the inactive shipyard, here, April 24.
The training scenario was part of Kai Malo O Hawaii 2012, a multi-agency exercise hosted by the 93rd CST, Hawaii Army National Guard, designed to increase the ability to communicate and execute during a maritime emergency in Hawaii.
To begin the scenario, the two teams took a barge from the pier to the EX-USS Duluth, a decommissioned amphibious transport dock, where they prepared to enter the narrow caverns of the ship. Immediately, the teams hit the ground running.
The 71st Chem. Co., 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, developed a rest, work cycle and prepared to enter the ship as the 85th CST used its expanded capabilities to react to a hostage situation in the bowels of the ship. To increase the capabilities of both teams, the survey teams were integrated.
After the 85th CST rescued the hostage, the 71st and the 85th launched their survey teams to canvass the ship for potential biological labs and contamination.
“The benefit from having someone from the CST is, they have the ability to go quite a bit more technical than us,” said Staff Sgt. Cameron Tinker, 71st Chem. Co. “They have the science and medical officers who can find out what we are sampling before we actively sample it. They could key us in on things we may not have been able to recognize.”
The teams faced unique challenges, like low lighting, tight spaces and an environment where everything looked the same as they entered the ship.
However, these obstacles didn’t daunt Tinker’s team.
“In hallways, there’s no air moving. It’s hot, it’s tight and it’s cramped,” Tinker said. “They can hear me (on the deck of the ship), but they can’t really understand me. If there was something major to tell them, I couldn’t. My team was more or less on its own.”
Coupled with a bread trail of chemical lights, radios and cameras used to canvass the labs, the survey teams persevered and laid the path for the sampling team that would follow later in the night.
As the two teams enhanced each other’s technical ability, a more important tool was forming between the teams: the ability to work together.
“There was no territory,” said Capt. Spencer Marsh, 85th CST. “(There was) no ‘you’re going to do what we say.’ No ‘you’re National Guard; we’re active duty.’ We looked at what needed to be done and accomplished the task. We took notes from each other and drove on.”
As the day turned into night, camaraderie and the sheer will to finish the mission became as important as the technical abilities of either team.
“If we are ever asked to come train with the 71st again, we won’t hesitate,” Marsh said. “The motivation they have, you can tell they like their jobs.”