North Dakota ANG regional training site hosts CBRN training

  • Published
  • By David Lipp,
  • 119th Wing Public Affairs, North Dakota Air National Guard

FARGO, N.D. – Chief Master Sgt. Kristi Erickson, the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management superintendent, hosted 10 emergency management members from units across the country to test their chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) equipment and tactics in cold weather conditions March 7-9.

“Our goals were to train in cold weather conditions to decide if we had the right equipment, how operations would differ from normal CBRN operations, and see if any additional tactics, techniques and procedures would be developed from this training,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jon Pieters, the Air National Guard emergency management region three chief from the 133rd Civil Engineer Squadron in Minneapolis.

The Fargo temperature conditions were ideal, hovering just over zero degrees Fahrenheit, with a fresh layer of snow from the previous night and snowbanks piled along roads and parking lots at the North Dakota Air National Guard Regional Training Site.

Training in cold weather can present unique challenges with detection equipment that uses electricity because batteries don’t last as long.

The emergency managers wore layers of clothing under and over their chemical ensembles to capture data on the efficacy of staying warm while completing their tasks, which also presented challenges.

“Things are a little different in the cold because of all of the layers. You lose a little of the dexterity,” said Tech. Sgt. Amanda Ptacek of the 179th Civil Engineer Squadron, Mansfield, Ohio.

Recent thawing and freezing created patches of a thick layer of ice under the snow, forcing participants to adapt to the slippery conditions because they could not drive stakes through the frozen ground to secure equipment.

“A lot of our CBRN training is more commonly conducted in warm weather conditions, and our military forces have to be prepared to operate in any weather, so this cold weather training really gives us the experience we need to be better prepared,” said Erickson.

One of the goals is to aid in updating tactics, techniques, and procedures that will be the baseline for CBRN operations in extreme cold weather environments.

The participants are hoping to conduct another cold-weather training event next winter.

“We all learned something new regarding our equipment limiting factors for our cold weather standard operating procedures. It was a very successful training event, and we want to expand on it for the future,” said Erickson.