Civil Support Team Visits Chemical Company

Story by Sgt. Joel F. Gibson
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

Soldiers from the 6th Civil Support Team out of Camp Mabry, the Texas National Guard Headquarters in Austin, demonstrated their capabilities to Soldiers of the 181st Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, through a briefing and static displays at the 2nd Chemical Battalion motor pool here Feb. 8.

The mission of the 6th CST, and all Civil Support Teams, is the reconnaissance, assessment, and identification of suspected weapons of mass destruction, said Maj. Samuel A. West, physician for the 6th CST.

The day started with a briefing by Lt. Col. Michael Cain, commanding officer of the 6th CST, in which he outlined the capabilities of his unit to the Soldiers of the 181st.

After the briefing, the Soldiers of the 181st visited the CSTs' static displays.

The four static displays featured the 6th CST survey team, operations center, communications center and laboratory.

The first display visited by most of the Soldiers was the survey team.

"When there's a biological or chemical incident, we suit up in level A suits, grab the necessary equipment, and look for, what I like to call, the bad stuff," said Spc. Stephen A. Snyder, a survey team member with the 6th CST.

Snyder continued, "A Level A suit has 3 layers of protection, and will protect the wearer from inhalation or skin-contact hazards."

After collecting samples, the survey team uses their equipment to analyze the chemical composition of the samples, said Snyder.

"We can identify powder substances in one or two minutes," said Staff Sgt. Reggie E. Book, a survey team member with the 6th CST.

"Once we have tentatively identified a substance, we bring it to our laboratory for further testing," continued Book.

After the survey team has established a tentative identification of the substance, they bring a sample to the laboratory section, which establishes a presumptive identification, said Sgt. 1st Class Art B. Phillips, the medical NCO of the 6th CST.

"Every chemical has its own fingerprint.we use chromatography to break chemicals down to those fingerprints so we can identify it," said Phillips.

"This stuff is pretty high-speed," said Pfc. John L. Stinebaugh, a chemical operations specialist with the 181st.

"Some of this equipment performs the same functions as our equipment, but does it better," said Stinebaugh.

"A lot of their equipment is similar to what we use, but smaller, more compact, and easier to handle," said Staff Sgt. Albert Ivey, recon squad leader with 44th Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion.

"I think it's a great training opportunity because we both have similar chemical missions," said Capt. Kelly T. Allen, commanding officer of the 181st.

Allen continued,"I invited the 6th down here because it's a great opportunity for my Soldiers to see aspects of the chemical field they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to see."

"We were invited by Captain Allen to share info," said Cain, "I think it's a great opportunity to share information back and forth between a chemical company and a specialized unit like the CST."

"This is the most unique unit that exists in the Department of Defense, because of how we're equipped and what we train for," concluded Cain.


Staff Sgt Reggie E book
Staff Sgt. Reggie E. Book, survey team member with the 6th Civil Support Team, shows chemical identification equipment to Soldiers of the 181st Chemical Company at the 2nd Chemical Battalion motor pool here Feb. 8. Photo by Sgt. Joel F. Gibson, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs