FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadet Leaders Course (CLC), 5th Regiment, Alpha Company Cadets struggled to maintain calm demeanors after being exposed to CS gas at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Facility June 28.
The purpose of the gas chamber is for Cadets to gain mask confidence while learning how to effectively operate in a CBRN environment, according to 1st Lt. Michael Boyett, 21st Chemical Company at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“When you are issued this equipment and you’re told to go into a contaminated environment, you have confidence in that equipment,” Boyett said.
At the CBRN Facility, platoons rotate through four stations learning how to wear protective suits and masks. They then decontaminate themselves and their equipment after being exposed to CS gas.
Cdt. Meghan Smith, a senior business administration major at Auburn University, said the experience made her “definitely trust” her mask.
“I liked it a lot better on than with it off,” Smith expressed.
It was her first time going through the gas chamber.
“I was a little nervous because I wear glasses and I was a little blind without them, and then it was a lot worse than I thought,” Smith shared.
Cdt. Grant Martel, a senior criminal justice major at Truman State University, said it was “much worse” going through the gas chamber a second time.
“It hurt a lot more. The last time I did it was at Ft. Benning, Ga. It was much more difficult to see and breathe. Almost instantly when I took the mask off, it was game over,” Martel shared.
Although the experience is unpleasant for most Cadets, Boyett said it will be valuable to their leadership development.
“They can put on their equipment with confidence and assurance that it’s going to work so they can lead their Soldiers and their personnel into a contaminated environment,” Boyett noted.
CBRN Committee Deputy Maj. Mirella Gravitt, assistant professor of military science at Western Kentucky University, shared what she wanted Cadets to learn from the exercise during the training brief.
“You need to be adaptable leaders who are able to operate in any type of environment,” Gravitt continued, “In the past, Soldiers have operated in a CBRN environment. You can be sure Soldiers will operate in a CBRN environment in the future.”