22d MEU learns how to respond to deadly chemical and biological threat

29 Nov 2003 | Cpl. Robert A. Sturkie

The use of chemical and biological agents, either by a rogue nation or terrorist organization, is a threat too dangerous to ignore.

In order to counter the lethal threat posed by such agents, a team of Marines from the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) recently wrapped up an Enhanced Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Course (ENBC) aboard Camp Lejeune.

Working alongside Marines from the Marine Corps' Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), headquartered at Indian Head, Maryland, the MEU Marines learn proper response measures in case of a chemical or biological attack.  Participating in the training were representatives from the MEU Command Element and each of its major subordinate elements; Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22.

"The training enables us to quickly respond to a chemical incident in theater, and access and identify hazards," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Roccisano, NBC Officer for the MEU Command Element.

According to Roccisano, a native of Queens, New York, the month-long training focused on the proper response to such an attack, and included; setting up and operating a decontamination site, locating, sampling, and identifying hazardous materials, familiarization of protective gear and sensors, and establishing security for such operations.

A key component of the month-long training was dealing with casualties resulting from a chemical or biological attack.

"We can evacuate a small number of casualties ourselves [the MEU]," said Roccisano, "and we learned how to integrate with a mass casualty team to evacuate a large number [of casualties] if necessary."

Adding a touch of ominous realism to the course was that much of the practical application during the course and its situational training exercises (one of which involved a chemical attack on a mock American 'embassy') was conducted wearing full protective gear.

"The training can be hard and tiring, but it teaches us how to go in and save lives so obviously it's well worth it," said Lance Cpl. Randy Wood, a Spartanburg, S.C. native serving with C Co., BLT 1/6.

The ENBC course is a standard component of all MEUs' pre-deployment training.

The 22d MEU is scheduled to deploy early next year aboard the amphibious assault ships WASP, WHIDBEY ISLAND, and SHREVEPORT as part of the WASP Expeditionary Strike Group/22d MEU.

For more information on the mission, organization, and status of the 22d MEU, visit the unit's web site at www.22meu.usmc.mil.
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit