RAF MILDENHALL, England --
The air is cold and crisp, but my face is red hot. I’m sweating, wearing an extra heavy layer of protective gear and inhaling the unmistakable rubber stench from my gas mask.
That’s right, I’m in mission oriented protective posture gear, better known as MOPP gear.
The protective gear is hot, sweaty and most certainly cumbersome to don. But, as an Airman, I understand the importance of putting on the equipment properly and quickly.
Today’s warfighting climate can be unpredictable, and it’s a priority of the Air Force to maintain readiness for all possibilities. Driving that message home, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe–Air Forces Africa, recently stated, “Warfighting readiness is the cornerstone of our deterrence posture in Europe.”
Part of that readiness is making sure Airmen are up to date on chemical, biological, radiological and neurological defenses.
That’s why I’m here – in my suit, boots, mask and gloves – at the CBRN defense survival skills class, making sure I am confident in my skills and ready for any scenario.
Here at RAF Mildenhall, the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight is responsible for providing this critical training for all Airmen on the installation.
“It is crucial that we have 4,000 Airmen fully CBRN trained at all times,” said 1st Lt. Eugenio Vives Alvarez, 100th CES readiness and emergency management flight commander. “Our enemies are out there, and we’re just being aggressive towards being ready for that, because we never know when that rapid response will be happening to support our sister services, U.S. military branches, or NATO allies.”
The training course covers basics about protective gear, CBRN detection and decontamination equipment, and running a CBRN reconnaissance route around a facility.
“I think it’s important because it helps us stay sharp,” said Amn. Justin Skiver, 100th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, who also attended the training. “It’s been a while since basic training and it was a good experience to get back into it.”
Since readiness is a high priority for the Air Force and for the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Airmen must be current in CBRN operations at all times.