Soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood have been exposed to some of the most deadly nerve agents known to man – intentionally. A select number of members of the 5th Engineering Battalion, awaiting deployment to the US’s Central Command, primarily based in the Persian Gulf, have gone through the post’s chemical defense training facility. There, they suited up with every piece of protective equipment possible – shoes, pants, jackets, gloves, mask and even a hood – and they are then exposed to actual deadly nerve agents – VX and sarin – which can kill a person with as little as a drop the size of a pin head. Sergeant First Class Thomas Nard is the unit’s chemical defense trainer. He says the people going through the facility are rank and file soldiers, not chemical warfare specialists. Nard says when these soldiers see they can survive the actual real thing, they pass that along to their fellow soldiers giving the whole unit more confidence in their chemical defense equipment and training.
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