ZEMIANSKE KOSTOL’ANY, Slovakia — Radiological, chemical, biological and nuclear security teams representing 12 NATO nations took part in Slovakia’s 10th annual exercise Toxic Valley September. 5-16.
The Slovak Republic hosts the exercise to offer world-class training for participants in NATO. NATO alliance.
The exercise, held by the CBRN Training and Testing Center Zemianske Kostol’any, provides soldiers the chance to learn in the sampling and identification chemicals used in warfare under real-world circumstances.
773rd Civil Support Team from Kaiserslautern, Germany represented the United States in the exercise together with participants from EUCOM Weapons of Mass Destruction Office as well as the NATO Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence in Vyskov, Czechia. Army Colonel. Michael Firmin, director of the Education, Training and Evaluation Department at the NATO Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence acknowledged the significance of the exercise.
“Toxic Valley 22″The Next Generation brings together CBRN samplers and lab analysis experts from various NATO member states,” said Firmin. “This exercise will allow interoperability between our NATO partners in CBRN military operations.
“What is special about this exercise is its ability to test the warfighters in different CBRN defense scenarios using real chemicals,” He said. “This gives them a real-world and difficult training.
“Additionally it gives the warfighters with an opportunity to share the best practices and lessons they’ve learned through this exercise, thereby increasing the professionalism of these crucial NATO unit.”
The JCBRN Defence COE is a NATO military body and a multinationally funded organization that offers a reputable expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the alliance as well as other partners. The organization’s focus is working on the NATO transformation process and operational support, which includes guidance and support for CBRN defense education, training and exercises.
Every team was involved in two scenarios of training each daily for 3 days, operating according to the guidelines in NATO Allied Engineering Publication 66, Handbook for Monitoring and Identification of biological, Chemical , and Radiological Agents. The scenarios for training included an abandoned plant which terrorists use to create chemical warfare agents, an illegal drug lab, as well as underground bunkers.
“Exercise Toxic Valley is important for all units participating as it provides soldiers with the chance to build trust in their protective gear and allows commanders to ensure that their troops are adequately trained to complete their job in a dangerous area,” said Slovakian Army Colonel. Oliver Toderiska, commander of the Slovakian CBRN Corps and exercise director for Toxic Valley 2022. “This exercise is also crucial to the NATO alliance since it lets us collaborate with each others, and in some instances enhance our methods, or at a minimum increase our capability to cooperate in the common defense of our countries.”
“Because analysis and sampling are both time-sensitive activities Each of the scenarios is time-bound,” said Toderiska. “You will notice that all team has different procedures, but in the end, the outcomes will be identical.”
The Slovakian Army is extremely happy with the way they have conducted Exercise Toxic Valley for the 10th time. They also created an incredibly small souvenir for participants to remember the event.
“Each year, we develop the new motto to use for this exercise,” said Toderiska. “This year’s theme, The Next Generation, is a reference to the need for the current generation of professionals to transmit our knowledge and expertise on to future generations.”
The demand for the exercise from NATO members has consistently grown over time, with 12 nations signing for 2022 as participants in the SIBCRA teams.
The facility isn’t large enough to hold 12 teams at once eight teams trained in the first week, followed by four new teams in the second week.
The United States team participated the second week, along alongside teams from Belgium, Lithuania and Slovenia.
“The capability in conducting training sessions for live agents is essential for CBRN soldiers especially in this area,” said Lt. Col. Mary Durham, the commander of the 773rd Civil Support Team. “We have the chance to improve our proficiency and increase our skills in CBRN response from both an U.S. military and a relationship standpoint in conjunction with our NATO allies.
“Usually CBRN Soldiers are given real-time agent instruction at our top Chemical Defense Training Center in the U.S. which is located in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
“They take part in”the Chemical Defense Training Facility as young Soldiers or later later in their career, however, they don’t have the opportunity to practice often and they aren’t often allowed to use equipment that is a part of their unit.
“This opportunity in Slovakia lets our soldiers collaborate with live agents on their own equipment. This is essential to establish confidence in their equipment as well as to ensure that they are at ease working in a hazardous environment,” she said.
The day that concluded the exercise was designated for reports on the after-action exercise as well as team assessments.
“The Slovakian Army did a amazing job during this mission,” declared Firmin, “and I would like to express my gratitude for the hard work they put into each year to increase their professionalism. CBRN defense teams throughout NATO.”
For more information about U.S. Army NATO Brigade go to our website at www.usanato.army.mil.
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