Soldiers use Stryker chemical reconnaissance vehicles during live-fire exercise
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea (Jan. 2, 2014) -- Live-fire exercises are nothing new for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Soldiers, but it's not every day that Stryker-based Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles are seen firing and maneuvering at a live-fire range.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, or CBRN, Specialists from 23rd Chemical Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, executed a live-fire exercise with their Stryker M1135 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles, or NBCRVs, Nov. 12-19, 2013, at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, South Korea.
The primary objective of this semi-annual training event was to build and maintain Soldiers' operational readiness and effectiveness in operating NBCRVs. The week-long training prepared the qualifying crews to handle their assigned weapon systems and instilled confidence in themselves and their equipment.
"As a NBCRV crew, we have to be able to move forward with cavalry and infantry units and support them with reconnaissance missions in any kind of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) environment in the field," said Sgt. Christopher M. Kerregan, a vehicle commander for a Stryker M1135 NBCRV, with 62nd Chemical Company, 23rd Chemical Battalion, 1ABCT, 2nd Infantry Division, and a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. "To accomplish the mission, we need the capability to defend ourselves in the formations on the front line."
A total of 20 M1135 crews participated in the training, including 18 crews from 23rd Chemical Battalion, and two crews of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1ABCT, 2nd Infantry Division. Each crew consisted of four members -- the vehicle commander, a driver and two gunners.
The leadership and multitasking skills of vehicle commanders were put to the ultimate test during this training with its simulation of combat scenarios. Its tempo highlighted their knowledge and performance under pressure.
Vehicle commanders must be confident in their knowledge due to their various roles in leading the crews. In addition to commanding the vehicle, they must operate weapon systems, plan and navigate, as well as review and submit reports, said Kerregan.
The NBCRVs are designed to operate in contaminated environments. Sealed with an over-pressure system, they can engage the enemy without being hindered by CBRN elements.
Currently on a nine-month deployment to Korea, with 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at Camp Humphreys, the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, helped Soldiers complete NBCRV Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, or HEAT, training, marksmanship qualification, an air-ground integration class and training to survive aerial attacks.
Enduring the tough challenges, Kerregan faced some hardships with his crew-members but their struggles fostered crew cohesion and unified the Iron Soldiers in their mission.
"It definitely helped us with our communications inside and outside of the vehicle," Kerregan said. "This was my second time participating in the exercise, but I learn something new each time."
Not to be overshadowed by the multitude of 1ABCT training and live-fire exercises, this event highlighted a rare breed of Soldier -- the CBRNE specialists of a chemical battalion. Adding versatility to the division's capabilities while reinforcing the "second to none" standard, these Soldiers go above and beyond the technical aspects of their duties.
"This type of training greatly improves our operational readiness," said Capt. Nicholas Bell, assistant operations officer with 23rd Chemical Battalion, 1ABCT, 2nd Infantry Division, and a native of Goshen, Ind. "Whenever we are in a CBRN environment taking engagement from the enemy, this exercise can give Soldiers knowledge and confidence to engage the enemy back. Repeated practice helps Soldiers with familiarization of the equipment and improves our ability to fight tonight."