U.S. Military Insights Why we need to train our warfighters to operate in contaminated environments

Imagine that your job involves potentially being exposed to contaminated materials. You must wear protective masks, gloves and outerwear while conducting your duties. And those duties include advancing, running, fighting, loading, shooting, maneuvering, scaling, repelling and climbing.

Once you complete these tasks, you must go to a "safe area" and decontaminate yourself, your equipment, and anything else that may have been in contact with the hazardous substance.

It's not easy to work in such an environment. But this is the situation that our warfighters are in as the threat of chemical attacks continues to be a major concern.

During a chemical threat or attack, troops must ensure that they are donning their protective gear properly as they maneuver. Afterwards, they must decontaminate themselves and their equipment, including large-scale items such as tanks, ships, aircraft and unmanned aerial systems. These items are built with thousands of parts, and warfighters must know how to decontaminate each of them.

Without preparation, these scenarios can be overwhelming. That's why we must ready our troops to operate in contaminated environments by providing realistic training scenarios. They need to be regularly trained on recognizing chemical agents, properly maintaining their protective gear, and thoroughly decontaminating their equipment. Reinforcing these skills will give warfighters the confidence and readiness they need to react effectively and safely during a chemical threat or attack.

The threats that troops face on the battlefield are constantly evolving – but regular, thorough training can prepare them for any challenge.

Cpl. Jim Truxel, US Marine Corps, 1977-1981
VP of Marketing and Sales for Military Programs, Support and Services Division
Saab Defense and Security USA

This post is part of Saab USA's U.S. Military Insights blog series, where our employees who have served in the U.S. military offer their thoughts on the issues affecting their branch.