Marine Corps News 25 April 2000


By Sgt. M.C. Miller

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (April 25) -- The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit recently evaluated the new Enhanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (E-NBC) system for its upcoming six-month Western Pacific deployment.

The "Fighting 13th" is the first Fleet Marine Force unit to be issued the complete system. The equipment will enhance the skills of NBC teams to detect, identify and decontaminate certain types of chemical and biological agents.

The E-NBC system gives the 13th MEU a better way of protecting its Marines while they are in a potentially hazardous situation, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Louis Renteria, Battalion Landing Team 3/1 NBC officer.

According to CWO2 Dale Ferguson, 13th MEU NBC officer, the new E-NBC full-body suit also allows Marines to conduct normal physical tasks while remaining fully protected from harmful contaminants.

To test the new NBC system, a 6-man team donned their protective equipment and marched in formation to a warehouse 150 yards away. Carrying a cooler, a black briefcase and a yellow and gray box, the team arrived at the simulated contaminated site. The team quickly moved into action to test the contaminants, gathering dirt, liquid and air samples.

Although the team members were protected from head to toe, the E-NBC suit allowed the Marines to maintain effective communication. The E-NBC system has a clear plastic facemask, a compressed air tank and a small radio installed in the facemask, which allows team members to converse.

"It helps you respect what you are getting into if the suits are going to protect you this much," said Cpl. Marc Rudolf, a 36-year-old team leader from Norfolk, Va.

"This can give us immediate results," CWO2 Renteria said. "We used to have to take samples and send them out to a lab. It could take days or weeks to find out if the area was safe for Marines to occupy. With this equipment, we can instantly make that decision in most cases."

The hardest part of the training was learning how to decontaminate and identify chemicals, but it is also the most important, said Cpl. Andrew Bunce, a 22-year-old team member from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "You have to do everything exactly right or you don't get the right reading." And Marines' lives are at stake.

Testing team members completed three weeks of intensive E-NBC training to master the new system, according to CWO2 Ferguson. There is at least one more planned exercise during the workups, he added.

"We are infantrymen and we train as such all the time," said LCpl. Raymond Godoy, a 22-year-old team member from Los Angeles. "If we are going to be proficient with this equipment, we need to practice this constantly also."

Marines train to fight and win battles. With the new E-NBC equipment, 13th MEU's NBC detection teams will be able to identify contaminants quickly and safely - keeping Marines in the fight.