Friday, February 25, 2011

All In A Day’s Work: Inside ECBC’s Detection Engineering Branch

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Detection Engineering Branch (DEB) actively supports the sustainment of multiple detection items. In addition to providing sustainment support of various Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) equipment items in the traditional sense with technical expertise for lifecycle management, DEB also provides hands-on technical support to the warfighter through their Chemical Biological Equipment Repair Team (CBERT) and DEB Contact Team. In today’s ECBC blog entry, go inside a CBERT mission and the training provided by ECBC’s Contact Team to learn how the Center helps to keep Warfighters knowledgeable about their CBRN equipment.

Chemical Biological Equipment Repair Team
In the last three years, ECBC’s DEB has supported 77 CBERT missions, aiding U.S. Army units returning from active duty in theater to inspect and repair their CBRN equipment. Personnel from DEB travel to the Brigade’s home location, and conduct inspections and repairs of their CBRN equipment on-site. The technical expertise and support provided by CBERT prepares the unit’s CBRN equipment for their next deployment and allows soldiers to focus on other duties.
On CBERT missions, DEB is tasked with providing technical support for the M22 Automatic Chemical Agent Detector Alarm (ACADA), working alongside technicians from Pine Bluff Arsenal. When required, DEB also provides Chemical Agent Monitor/Improved Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM/ICAM) technical support.
“For the first few missions in 2007-08, DEB was crucial to the development of a standard method for CBERT ACADA support, integrating logistical and technical requirements for the mission. For example, DEB worked on the mission equipment requirements and the training and certification of mission personnel,” Kyle Phillips, DEB chemical engineer, said
For each CBERT mission the equipment must be accepted from units using a hand-receipt. Physical deficiencies are repaired and missing components are replaced. Afterwards, each ACADA is sent for operational testing where the ACADA team performs functional checks and confidence sample tests to ensure the items are able to detect agent and alarm appropriately.
Since October 2007, and over the course of 77 missions, the CBERT team has inspected and/or repaired over 16,000 ACADAs. The average mission is Brigade-size, with approximately 200 ACADAs requiring a two-week turnaround. Occasionally, CBERT requires additional support for large missions.
One such occasion arose this past December when DEB provided increased support to CBERT to inspect and repair over 700 ACADAs in two weeks in Fort Lewis, Wash.
 “This was a big mission,” said Nichole Au, a DEB chemical engineer, said. “We sent four people from our branch and another person from ECBC’s Acquisition Logistics Division to support the mission, and they worked alongside three technicians from Pine Bluff Arsenal and an equipment specialist from TACOM-Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC). It took a lot of manpower and coordination both before the mission and on the ground.”
According to Au, all CBERT missions require coordination and organized logistics for personnel, equipment, spare parts, building facilities and work space. A mission like the recent one in Ft. Lewis that is almost four times the normal capacity requires additional organization, preparation and stream-lined processes, as well as flexibility and extended work hours to meet the mission time frame.
“The success of [the Ft. Lewis] mission is attributed to the dedication and commitment of our subject matter experts,” Au said.
The support DEB provides to CBERT places ECBC Engineering in a unique position to understand sustainment issues and maintenance concepts that pertain to both the Institutional and Operational Army. Since October 2007, ECBC has maintained a strong relationship with TACOM-LCMC through their support of CBERT. As a result, this support has benefitted the overall sustainment and management of the CBRN items for DEB and TACOM from both the programmatic and field perspective.

“Knowing that soldiers depend upon the equipment that we repair makes our work more fulfilling and awarding,” said Kyle Phillips, DEB chemical engineer.

DEB Contact Team Training
One of the initiatives of DEB is to provide refresher training to the warfighters on the operation and maintenance of the detection items that DEB supports. Due to the frequent turnover within the Army units, refresher training helps the warfighters to remain knowledgeable about their CBRN equipment.
When requested, DEB Contact Team provides hands-on training support to soldiers and civilians and is currently offering operator-level maintenance training for the CAM/ICAM and Operator/Unit-level and direct support-level maintenance for the M22 ACADA.
“Our training services showcase ECBC’s support to soldiers,” Phillip said. “We have provided training to the soldiers and civilians both on contiguous U.S. and outside of contiguous U.S. installations. It is rewarding to be able to answer questions and provide information for the actual operators and maintainers in the field.”
Providing this training also increases DEB visibility on problems that may occur in the field. DEB Contact team has advertised their free training services by contacting TACOM Logistics Area Representatives (LARs). The DEB Contact Team plans to contact more LARs and open the offer for refresher training to more installations and units.
 “The support that is provided during both CBERT and Contact Team missions improves unit readiness, increases the operational availability of fielded chemical detection items and directly supports combat unit commanders,” Phillips said.

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