FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets from Eighth Regiment, Advanced Camp suited up in full MOPP4 gear, grabbed tightly to the shoulder of the Cadet in front of them and braced for impact at the CS Chamber on July 14.
The CS chamber is an exercise Cadets must pass through in order to fulfill their CBRN requirement. CBRN, which stands for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, is a part of Cadet Summer Training that helps to foster Cadets’ confidence in their gear.
“The intent of CBRN is to build confidence in our abilities and our gear,” said Cadet Zachary Stuart, Texas Christian University. “Our instructors did a really great job at teaching us how to put on our gear correctly and the gear really held up in the chamber, but once you break that seal and take off your mask, it all kind of goes out of the window. “
CS gas’ composition and side effects resemble that of tear gas. Common side effects include, coughing, choking, watery eyes and clearing of the sinuses.
“There were tears,” said Stuart. “And snot. Lots of snot.”
Cadets arrived to CBRN around 7 a.m. where they were debriefed on what to expect during their time at the CS chamber. They then broke into platoons to discuss in depth the purpose of the MOPP4 suits and how to properly apply them.
After, Cadets were then evaluated on what they had learned during their time at CBRN.
“Here they’re being evaluated on whether they can successfully put their gas masks on in under nine seconds as well as their entire MOPP4 suit in under eight minutes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Watson.
“So far every Cadet we’ve seen this summer has passed.”
Sgt. Watson stressed that the importance of this exercise wasn’t just to build confidence in their equipment, but to also build confidence in themselves and their abilities.
“This is a story that every soldier has,” said Watson. “I think it’s because you’re forced to conquer your own fears. Every one of these soldiers has done us proud.”
Following their evaluations, Cadets then made their way to the CS chamber.
“I was really nervous that my mask wouldn’t seal properly and that I would start choking as soon as the doors to the chamber opened,” said Cadet Nicholas Leaply, Norwich University.
“But all our masks seemed to seal properly and no one choked – not until we started taking off our masks,” said Leaply.
For these Cadets, however, standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of their platoon could also be seen as an ulterior source of motivation and confidence when passing through the CS chamber.
“We all suffer together,” said Leaply. “It’s miserable and your eyes will water, but there’s strength in knowing you’re not alone.”