Story by Pfc. Valentina Y. Montano, 302nd MPAD
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – Soldiers from the 690th Chemical Company, Alabama Army National Guard, participated in the Joint Warfighter Assessment 2019 at Yakima Training Center April 23 to May 9, 2019.
A CBRN Specialist’s primary job is to protect their country from any chemical weapons and catastrophes. Soldiers have been working with the M1135 Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle and its first generation robotics prototype, a rendered autonomous vehicle.
The NBCRV provides nuclear, biological and chemical detection and surveillance for battlefield hazard visualization, as well as situational awareness to increase the combat power of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
“What impresses me the most about the Stryker vehicle is how fast they put this prototype together because the fight is heading in a direction that teams up with robotics,” said Sgt. Brittany Mattison the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Stryker team. “The fact they’re pairing robotics with soldiers is pretty cool.”
Mattison who is originally from Pensacola, Florida first became interested in Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear because of the direction it’s future is heading.
“I hope that these technologies continue to get pushed in the robotics aspect to help keep the Soldiers safe,” said Mattison.
JWA19’s mission objective has been dedicated to enhance overall readiness through the execution of effective live experimentation. The results produced by the Stryker brigade Soldiers provides essential feedback on emerging robotics technologies while executing live missions.
Joint Modernization Command no longer aims to match adversaries with soldiers, but utilize smart system capabilities that remove the soldier from high-risk zones and minimize the risk of casualties.
“We’re trying to test all the limits of the first gen so that when it comes time to issue these Strykers to Soldiers, it will be the best piece of equipment NBCRV Soldiers have in the field,” said Sgt. Cornelius R. Cody, a chemical specialist with the 690th who’s hometown is in Birmingham, Alabama.
The reconnaissance vehicle carrying the Stryker Sensor Suite is the Army’s primary tool to detect chemical and radiological contamination in its immediate environment, which identifies a hit as ‘purple’.
“The best thing about this vehicle in contrast to the classic Stryker is that Soldiers operating this Stryker utilize standoff distance,” said Cody. “They can still make their detections without having to be in a contaminated area.”
The NBCRV enhances warfighter efforts by performing nuclear, biological, and chemical reconnaissance within the battlefield. When NBC, ‘purple’, agents are detected, soldiers will deploy the autonomous vehicle to pinpoint exact location of contaminated area without risking lives of Soldiers. This means going, ‘Deep Purple’.
After the autonomous vehicle deploys, the ‘Deep Purple’ drone is released to pinpoint exact location of contaminated area through live-feed visuals transmitted to sensors on both pieces of equipment, which is then relayed to the Stryker.
“As a collective, this is the best technology we have related to NBCRV missions,” said Cody. “After that, it’s game over.”
The personnel assigned to the M1135 NBCRV have been able to put their input and it’s been responded to, said Sgt. 1st Class William Anderson, CBRN non-commissioned officer in charge with the 690th Chemical Company. It’s important those designing these complex systems take their input seriously, and it has.
JWA19 is a multi-national training exercise that allows units to enhance their readiness while integrating and assessing innovative concepts and capabilities in a challenging operational environment.
“It’s been an honor to observe the upcoming future of the fight,” said Mattison. “This has been once in a lifetime experience for me.”