8th MPs’ 71st Chem. Co. wraps up testing at Area X
Story and photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Sixty years of chemical and biological decontamination doctrine may soon change as the 71st Chemical Company, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, tested new decontamination equipment and technologies designed for all armed services at Area X-Ray, here, Aug. 6-Sept. 12.
Other chemical elements from U.S. Army-Pacific and from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, also participated.
Soldiers tested the Hazard Mitigation, Material, Equipment Restoration, or HaMMER, family of systems. Comprised of multiple new technologies, HaMMER reduces the time it takes to decontaminate equipment at the team level and beyond by using triage, simplicity and minimal use of water.
According to Sgt. Maj. Simeon Nedlic, with Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives, or CBRNE, and Protection, at USARPAC, HaMMER incorporates three basic suites:
•The first suite is the Mobile on the Move, or MOM, bag that individuals can carry.
•The second suite is Mobile Support designed for internal decontamination at battalion level.
•The third suite is Large Scale Stationary Support, a more robust suite issued at a chemical company-level to help augment battalions and larger-scale decontamination missions.
One of the key elements of HaMMER is the yellow-misted disclosure spray.
“If you suspect your vehicle is hit with any kind of contamination, you spray your vehicle with the disclosure spray,” Nedlic said. “Your vehicle will change color to red where it’s contaminated. After you spot the contamination … you can quickly put yourself back into the fight.”
While the reaction process may need high-level chemistry and biology to understand, the effects and application do not. Nedlic attributes this to the demand warfighters, like those from 71st Chem. Co., have placed on the military technological development.
“It’s huge to modernize doctrine, but to be a part of it is even better,” said 1st Lt. Chris Parker, decontamination platoon leader, 71st Chem. Co. “We’re making sure it makes sense, and not only from a warfighter position, but from a CBRNE Soldier position.”
Parker said Soldiers consistently ask questions, such as, “Is this going to be quicker” or “Can we incorporate this into what we already do?”
Nedlic said the large-scale decontamination mission that the 71st Chem. Co. currently trains for would require every vehicle, regardless of the level of contamination, to go through a process that can take hours. However, using HaMMER’s disclosure spray can decrease the amount of time needed to determine whether a vehicle is contaminated.
“Hours of time are chopped off using this technology,” Nedlic said. “In my eyes, it has a lot of potential to change how we do decon today.”
Parker has noticed incredible gains after a tough learning curve.
“The first couple of weeks were slow, but after we began figuring things out, it’s been nothing but a high-speed push,” Parker said.
The 71st Chem. Co. will continue to train on the equipment for the next 12 months and play a leading role in the coming years in shaping decontamination doctrine for the warfighter, if the military implements HaMMER.