The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School held its 2020 Chemical Regimental Week June 23-26 at Fort Leonard Wood with the majority of events being held virtually due to the pandemic.
The theme for the week was “The Chemical Corps: Adaptive and Ready for a Complex and Changing World.”
Col. Daryl Hood, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School commandant and the 31st Chief of the Chemical Corps, said that the corps was making history with Chem Week, just as Dragon Soldiers have made history in their response to the pandemic with CBRN active-duty, National Guard and Reserve units supporting COVID-19 responses across the country and overseas at sites in Germany, South Korea and elsewhere.
“At camps, posts and stations across the land, our Dragon Soldiers are quietly and professionally contributing, wherever needed,” Hood said as he opened the week with the annual State of the Regiment address June 23. “Their contributions are numerous and varied as we demonstrate, once again, how versatile, adaptable and competent Dragon Soldiers are and how we always answer the call when our nation needs us the most.”
Following Hood’s remarks, the annual Sibert Awards were presented for excellence in mission readiness and achievement in unit training, maintenance, discipline, safety, reenlistment and overall organizational excellence. The awards were presented as follows:
— The 2020 Active Component Award was presented to the 11th CBRNE Company, 110th CBRN Battalion, 48th CBRN Brigade, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, D.C., and was accepted by its company commander, Capt. Brendan Hales, and 1st Sgt. Daniel Totten.
— The 2020 National Guard Award was presented to the 54th Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team from Madison, Wisconsin, and was accepted by its commander, Lt. Col. Joe Davison and 1st Sgt. Ken Prieur.
— The 2020 Army Reserve Award was presented to the 379th CBRN Company, 472nd CBRN Battalion from Chicago, Illinois, and was accepted by its company commander, Capt. Andrew Deal, and 1st Sgt. Scott Yeoman.
Hall of Fame
Later that afternoon, the annual Hall of Fame/Distinguished Member of the Corps Ceremony was live-streamed on the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School Facebook page.
Prior to the presentation of awards, attendees celebrated the life of the late retired Command Sgt. Maj. George Murray, the Chemical Corps’ last surviving Pearl Harbor veteran and the first command sergeant major of the Chemical Corps, who died in October of 2019 at the age of 100.
The ceremony featured the posthumous induction of retired Col. Harry Tyson into the Chemical Corps Hall of Fame, followed by the induction of retired Lt. Col. Britt Estes as a Distinguished Member of the Corps.
“Mankind has always found ways to honor those who perform above the call of duty, in a variety of ways,” Hood said in his remarks. “The Chemical Corps established the Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Distinguished Member of the Corps Program in 1991 to do just that. Today, we honor two individuals who have served with distinction and have demonstrated extraordinary service that sets them apart from all others.”
Hood noted that Tyson served in the Army for 25 years, was a combat veteran of both World War I and World War II and was the inventor of the MIC-LIC mine clearing line charge as well as a smoke-launching system for U.S. tanks and Fragmacord, for which he donated his patents to the Army.
Tyson’s son, Peter, accepted the award, responding with thanks on behalf of the Tyson family through video.
“It is indeed a great honor to accept this award for my father, Col. Tyson, and to have his accomplishments recognized by his induction into the Chemical Hall of Fame,” he said.
Hood also praised Estes’ many years of service, both during his military career and in his role as a civilian instructor.
“He has remained a constant champion of the Chemical Corps, a mentor to countless CBRN Soldiers and officers,” Hood said. “As a civilian instructor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, he is an advocate on behalf of the Chemical Corps and volunteers extensively to benefit CBRN Soldiers and activities that support CBRN missions encountering weapons of mass destruction.”
In a video statement accepting the award, Estes said he was surprised and honored to be named a Distinguished Member of the Corps, and thanked all those who inspired, supported and helped him become an effective mentor to others.
“When I was on active duty, it seemed like every job I had after I made captain involved teaching, coaching and mentoring the Soldiers of our branch,” Estes said. “As I look back on it, we should all recognize that any time you are placed in charge of younger, less experienced Soldiers in any position you are assigned, it is your sacred duty to prepare them for what they will face if called upon to defend our nation.”
On June 25, the annual Regimental Update/Lessons Learned Forum was held via webconference with a number of speakers providing reports on recent and upcoming changes and improvements in training and methods developed throughout the Chemical Corps.
The featured speaker was Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team director at Army Futures Command in Orlando, Florida. Gervais formerly served as the 28th Chief of Chemical and USACBRNS commandant. She talked about her team’s work to leverage technology to help the Army reach the next level of innovation in training.
“What we want to do is take advantage of some of the available commercial technology advancements, especially in things like virtual (environments), gaming and telecommunications,” she said. “We want to be on the front edge of those commercial technology advances and help shape those so that they can become useful, not just in the commercial sector but can also address our needs. We want to be on the cutting edge of being able to take advantage of those new capabilities.”
Gervais said that CBRN Soldiers are currently responsible for 400 different tasks that require training, many of which can be aided by synthetic training environments, which could include a variety of simulations on various platforms. She noted that while synthetic training environments can’t replace real-world training, it can provide Soldiers with an increase in “reps and sets” to build on their experience.
“I think the way we have to look at how we revolutionize CBRN training is we really have to clearly identify and understand the challenges of managing increased numbers of required Soldier-training tasks,” she said. “We really have to think differently about how to solve problems. I think with the changes in technology, and with a lot of our Soldiers already being digitally savvy from a very early age, we really have to think about how do we become digital versus analog in our thinking and our training.”
Gervais said her team has already had some successes in several areas, most notably in the use of 3D terrain and virtual environments. Using the concept of a smartphone app store as an example, she said one of the goals for the future of Army training is to develop platforms that allow a variety of developers to provide innovative programs.
“I’m working with this technology each and every day; we’re doing demonstrations and working with vendors,” she said. “I don’t think we yet appreciate what’s in the realm of the possible. I think we have a great opportunity to revolutionize the way we do CBRN training, and our only limiting factor is going to be us.”
Chem Week is scheduled to conclude June 26 with a Virtual Regimental Run, with participants collaborating through the Facebook page.
This year’s Chemical Regimental Week marked the 102nd anniversary of the Chemical Corps.