VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- The Air Force has recently modified how often chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives training will be conducted.
Once a requirement to undergo CBRNE training every three years, the Air Force has recently shortened the timeframe to 18 months.
“Initially, there was a requirement to maintain CBRNE proficiency every three years,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gapetz, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron NCOIC emergency management training. “That has recently changed to an 18 month window. The requirement now dictates that every 18 months members complete a hands on portion as well as the web based training. I would encourage members to pay attention to their online training, and also be prepared to come to our shop for the hands on portion. The CBRNE training provided by our shop solidifies the skills needed to prepare, respond, mitigate, and recover from contingencies or emergencies in a possible CBRNE environment. This is something that we, as a team, take great pride in knowing.”
All Airmen start their CBRNE training early in their careers, that education continues with online coursework and more hands on training taught at the base level.
“First and foremost we really want to focus on CBRNE as a three tier system,” said Gapetz. “You learn your fundamentals in basic military training, and then within the first 18 months of your enlistment you will take online training as a refresher course. The third tier is demonstration and performance, which we focus on here. We get you out here in our classroom and training environment, and then we will have you demonstrate that you can properly don and doff your gear if you are placed in a wartime environment.”
As many Airmen can attest, it is no easy task to put on chemical protective gear.
“When we are training people who don’t remember how to put on their chemical gear, we tell them to take their time and make sure they do everything right,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Ridgway, 30th CES emergency management trainer. “It usually takes them four or five minutes to go from MOPP two into MOPP four. The second time they do it we usually see that time decrease to two minutes. It’s really nice to see everyone have all their gear on. You can tell everything we have taught them has clicked. Seeing people progress through the class and afterward see that they have the skills necessary to be able to put the gear on correctly and quickly.”
The needs of the Air Force are constantly changing, and although the changes in CBRNE are relatively minor, the emergency management team is ready to adjust accordingly.
“The only changes we are really seeing is the amount of time we do it,” said Gapetz. “We are given the same training, we are just increasing the frequency. People need to understand that the threats are always evolving, so there isn’t one specific driver, but as these threats change we need to make sure we are tailoring our proficiency to be able to handle these types of threats. When you are down range, and you deploy last minute, we want you to be able to survive in that wartime environment whether a contamination is present or not.”