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New Technology Protects GIs Seaports Against NBC

File photo: US marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit land with their military armor in their Kuwaiti naval base, 70 kms south of Kuwait City, 15 May 2005. Photo courteys of Yasser Al-Zayyat and AFP.
by Sgt. Crystal Rothermel
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait (SPX) May 10, 2006
Service members at Kuwait's crucial seaports can focus more on their missions and less on the worries of chemical or biological attacks with the arrival of new NBC warning technology.

The Kuwait Naval Base is the newest recipient of Contamination Avoidance equipment, part of a Department of Defense sponsored program to increase warning, awareness and protection at seaports in the event of contamination.

"If you can detect it, you can avoid it," said Lt. Col. Pete Winston, safety officer in charge of the 143d Transportation Command. "If you avoid it you won't get contaminated."

The CASPOD package at Kuwait Naval Base includes chemical detectors, sensors, computer systems and training. The nearby port of As Shuaybah is also equipped with CASPOD equipment. Together, the ports are the first CASPOD sites in a combat zone.

The technology arrived after years of testing, monitoring and concerns, after a General Accounting Office investigation found shortfalls in decontamination equipment and warning systems at critical points. The CASPOD equipment underwent further tests, demonstrations and improvements. Finally, the package was proposed to U.S. Central Command in 2001.

Today, CASPOD is more versatile than it was in its early stages. "CASPOD is not just for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare," said Chris Vontomaszewski, CASPOD technician for SPOD and KNB. "It is for command, control, emergency response and NBC."

The future of the CASPOD looks even brighter. The system will be simplified and "the ultimate goal is information sharing at a new level," said Vontomaszewski.

Ideally, commanders will have the ability to see data from all ports on a single screen.

Vontomaszewski added that until then, service members living and working in Kuwaiti ports enjoy a safer environment without the danger of a chemical of biological attack. The CASPOD is a proactive step towards protecting lives and property - now and in the future.

"The longevity and future development is important because worldwide political winds do change," he said. "The presence of CASPOD at seaports is a daunting reminder that, in such an event, the equipment is ready to detect any chemical or biological attack."

"In just a matter of days, international matters can change," says Winston. "We are here to defend and protect our forces and people."

He added that future forces may see newer versions of CASPOD - and that the present installation is a stepping stone.

"I understand that some poor chemical officer down the road may have to defend this port," he said. "This will help him."

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