FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Confidence Chamber comes down to those seconds the Cadets have to stand and breathe in the CS gas, which is similar to tear gas, and whether or not they can stand the discomfort.
CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) training hosts many parts, but the capstone of the training is for Cadets to walk in and brave the Confidence Chamber.
Cadets take off their masks and expose themselves to the full brunt of the CS gas, or tear gas, in the confidence chamber at Fort Knox, Ky. July 17, 2019. | Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office
It serves as a mental barrier, and after braving it, 9th Regiment Advanced Camp Cadets walked away more than ready to tackle the rest of camp.
Cadet Emily Campos, a Lagrangeville, New York, native, said that she had been nervous coming into today’s training.
“I’ve heard some horror stories about it, so I wasn’t too excited,” Campos said.
However, after facing the horror head on, the University of Connecticut Cadet said it wasn’t nearly as bad as she had thought.
“I feel relieved,” Campos said. “It’s pretty horrible once you’re in there, but as soon as you come out, it’s over pretty quick and you’re back to normal.”
Cadet Nico Pacheco, from Carson-Newman University, was another Cadet who came in with horror stories, but left with new found confidence.
“I got nervous once they said we were going to take the mask off, but the feeling isn’t that bad,” the Clarksville, Tennessee, native said. “Once you start breathing that’s the only part that’s bad.”
He added that this was a great way for them to be able to trust their equipment, as many others have found in the past. But Pacheco found confidence in another part of the training that most probably don’t find all that interesting.
Cadre move onto the different levels and steps to properly putting on the MOPP gear when dealing with a chemical attack at Fort Knox, Ky. July 17, 2019.| Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office
“The whole class itself was good because not a lot of us get to experience this before we come here,” Pacheco said. “The class beforehand exposes what it’s going to be like in the chamber, and so we get to mentally prepare before we go in. If we would’ve just went in, a lot of us would’ve panicked.”
Finding confidence and putting horrors to bed is one of the hallmarks to going through the chamber. But for others it serves as a launching point to greater heights.
Cadet Owen McDade, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, noted that he kept faith in his trainers and equipment to help keep the nerves at bay.
Cadet Gavin Januszewski, Northern Michigan University, shows off after being able to put on his mask with little issue at Fort Knox, Ky. July 17, 2019. | Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office
“I definitely tried to not let the butterflies get to me,” McDade said. “It’s not that bad as long as you trust your equipment and trainers. Definitely a good kick off to the FTXs.”
And now that this part of training is over he’s ready to tackle the rest of Advanced Camp.
“[I feel] Definitely good,” the Duquesne University Cadet said. “I’m ready for the FTXs to get started. Like I said with the trusting your equipment, same with rifle marksmanship, it’s just trusting your rifle or your equipment. And I definitely feel more confident in my equipment and in myself.”