Capt. Daniel B. Collins, Nuclear Medical Science Officer (left), and Sgt.1st Class Keith A. Benson, Medical NCO (right), both with the Delaware National Guard’s 31st Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team, conduct analysis procedures in the Analytical Laboratory System Increment 1 A1 System during operational testing at Mayberry Point, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (U.S. Army photo)

By Lt. Col. Jeron Washington, Senior Test Officer, Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Maryland and Delaware National Guard warfighters here are testing a new chemical and biological threat response system that can quickly deploy to contamination sites.

“The Army needs to prepare and respond to potential chemical and biological threats with a ‘next generation laboratory,” said Sgt. 1st Class Crystal G. Wright, Test Operations and Samples Control NCO with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (OTC).

To that end, Maryland’s 32nd and Delaware’s 31st Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) are involved in the Limited User Test (LUT) of the Analytical Laboratory System Increment 1 A1 (ALS INC1 A1).

Their training scenario is the stage of a fictional chemical and biological laboratory that suffers detrimental destruction and loss of several hazardous materials following Hurricane Zelda.

Over five days, Chemical Soldiers are given several chemical and biological samples to test the ALS’ suite of analytical equipment with built-in network-ready connectivity.

Staff Sgt. April-May C. Ridenour, Medical NCO (rear) and 2nd Lt. Christopher M. Vinciguerra, Nuclear Medical Science Officer (front) of Marylands National Guard’s 32nd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team, work together to confirm an analysis of a biological sample ran on the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) inside the Analytical Laboratory System Increment 1 A1 System during Day 1 of record test at Mayberry Point, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (U.S. Army photo)

Each day, Soldiers report to the Incident Commander (IC), and after checking their ALS equipment for proper functions, they are ready to begin their day testing samples delivered by a Chemical Operations NCO.

The samples are processed off-site and detailed analysis and advice on how to mitigate effects are provided to the IC.

“The ALS will provide the WMD-CST the ability to quickly move to a possible contamination site, analyze chemical, biological agents and radioisotopes, and provide analysis results to the Incident Commander in real-time,” Wright said.

The system can be transported via C-5 and C-17 Cargo Aircraft and from ship-to-shore by Landing Craft Air Cushioned hovercraft.

“When deployed as an integrated component of a WMD-CST team, ALS provides detailed, on-site chemical and biological analysis of suspected materials,” said Mrs. Danielle M. Huckabee, OTC Test Officer and Operational Research Systems Analyst.

The ALS INC1 A1 test determines whether or not its advanced technologies to detect and identify a vast array of toxic agents, are effective, suitable, and survivable on the modern battlefield, according to Huckabee.

“The ALS can take environmental samples and allows operators to prepare, analyze, and temporarily store those samples so that environmental conditions can be documented,” said Huckabee.

“Incident commanders rely on observation and analysis results within the Analytical Information Management Systems (AIMS), and system operators also have the capability to communicate with the IC, subject matter experts, and other decision-making authorities on the results analyses.”


About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

Operational testing began Oct. 1, 1969, and as the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC is celebrating “50 Years of Operational Testing.” The unit enlists the “Total Army” (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.

The Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate conducts operational tests of combat engineer, chemical, transportation, military police, quartermaster, ordnance and medical service systems in order to provide our senior leaders with the necessary information to field the highest quality equipment for the warfighter.