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JBLM unit trains for nuclear forensics mission

Exercise Prominent Hunt took place last week in Delaware

Spc. Dong Hyun Kim, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialist, assigned to the 9th CBRNE Technical Escort Company out of JBLM scans for nuclear fallout debris during Prominent Hunt, April 4-7. Photo credit: Marshall Mason

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BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Highly specialized American Army units from the U.S. Department of Defense's premier all hazards command trained for interagency nuclear forensics missions during Exercise Prominent Hunt at Bethany Beach, Delaware, April 4-7.

The 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command's Nuclear Disablement Team 2 and 3rd CBRNE Response Team, 9th Chemical Company, qualified to serve as a part of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collection Task Force.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center also qualified to support the task force during the exercise. NTNF members who have recently served on prepare-to-deploy orders for the task force, including members of NDT 3, 2nd CRT from the 46th Chemical Company, Army Public Health Center and AFTAC, served as observers and controllers during the exercise.

As a part of an interagency task force lead by the FBI, the NTNF Ground Collection Task Force gathers and packages samples of radioactive fallout that enable partner agencies to determine the source.

The NDT 2 and CRT 3 are both part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense's premier all hazards formation.

Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Active Duty U.S. Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.

From 19 bases in 16 states, soldiers and civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy to confront and defeat the world's most dangerous hazards during joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.

Soldiers from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based 3rd CBRNE Response Team, 9th Chemical Company, trained for their NTNF mission of collecting ground samples through crawl, walk and run phases.

"Prominent Hunt promotes tactical and operational readiness to react in a nuclear emergency to meet the Army's current demands," said 1st Lt. Samantha K. Roberson, the team leader for CRT 3. "This mission specifically gives our soldiers a further understanding on the radiation and nuclear portion of our mission-essential tasks. These lessons they can internalize and apply to future missions and carry on to their future soldiers."

According to Roberson, CRTs have to stay ready for all four weapons of mass destruction threats: chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.

"This task force gives us a rare opportunity to exercise our radiological and nuclear capabilities. In this particular mission, we stress our ground sampling and escort tasks alongside the FBI and Department of Energy to create a joint task force," said Roberson.

A former enlisted soldier from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Roberson was commissioned into the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in August 2019 after earning a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Toxicity from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana.

"I felt drawn to the Chemical Corps as it naturally pairs with my degree," said Roberson. "The Chemical Corps has provided me with the opportunity to learn more of what I'm passionate about, while protecting my fellow soldiers from any CBRN threats."

NDTs directly contribute to the nation's strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological WMD infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries. They also facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.

As the U.S. Department of Defense's nuclear subject matter experts, Nuclear Disablement Teams serve as an informed interface between the CBRNE Response Team and the Department of Energy technical experts. The U.S. Army's three Nuclear Disablement Teams - NDT 1 "Manhattan," NDT 2 "Iron Maiden" and NDT 3 "Vandals" - are all stationed on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

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