820th SFG field tests chemical warfare garments

  • Published
  • By Airman Eric Schloeffel
  • 347th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
The 820th Security Forces Group here began the first military field durability tests on new chemical warfare garments Oct. 24. 

The 820th SFG, which provides force protection for expeditionary air forces, is putting the latest version of the chemical warfare suit to the test to assess its fit, comfort, compatibility, performance and effectiveness in combat environments. 

U.S. Aberdeen Testing Center officials will oversee the test, which runs through Feb. 6, and they will also evaluate the results.

“Each service was given the opportunity to participate,” said Chuck Trageser, test director at ATC. “It’s a resource effort, and we needed a unit that could provide us sufficient testing hours for the garments. The 820th Security Forces Group could give us that.”

The many hours of testing will also provide the 820th SFG with additional training, an added benefit to the project.

“It is good to train like you fight,” said Col. John Decknick, 820th SFG commander. “In the future, we may face chemical weapons, so working with these chemical warfare suits will serve as great training.”

His Airmen will test a two-piece garment for ground troops, a one-piece garment for combat vehicle crewman and updated versions of gloves and footwear.

The Airmen will fill out data sheets daily to document problems that arise with the garments. The sheets also ensure the required wear hours are met for the test.

The two-piece garment for ground troops, the Joint Service Light Weight Integrated Suit Technology II, known as the JASQ II, is similar to the chemical warfare suit the military currently uses.

One disadvantage with the current suit, officials said, is the carbon beads inside. These beads, which protect the wearer from chemical and biological agents, are currently provided by a single foreign supplier.

The JASQ II provides an additional source of chemical warfare suit materials in case of a supply disruption, said ATC officials. The tests will be the first time the JASQ II is tested to see how it compares to the current suit.

The Joint Service Coverall for Combat Vehicle Crewman, known as the JC3, is made of semipermeable material designed as the next-generation chemical warfare suit for the armor community, said ATC officials.

Some of the features of the JC3 include reduced heat stress, increased breathability and state-of-the-art protection against chemical and biological agents.

“The main feature of the JC3 is its flame-retarding ability,” said Mr. Trageser. Pilots currently wear suits with similar material to prevent injuries associated with fires.

“The materials in the (chemical) suit will allow our Airmen to breathe easier and allow them to operate in all sorts of temperatures,” Colonel Decknick said.

The gloves being tested, the Joint Service Integrated Suit Technology Block 2 Glove Upgrade, provide up to 24 hours of protection against chemical and biological agents for up to 30 days of wear. The gloves also feature improved dexterity from the current gloves used by the military, said ATC officials.

When the test period ends, the garments will be assessed for durability and compatibility, and then advance to chemical testing to evaluate their performance.

During the test, officials said no Airmen will be asked to wear the items in hazardous conditions outside of their normal military training.

ATC officials credit Airmen testing the new chemical warfare items with undertaking a key role in helping the military develop advanced technology to protect servicemembers. 

“These Airmen are just getting back from Kirkuk, Iraq,” said Colonel Decknick. “They already served our country by deploying in a combat environment. Now they are helping out the country in garrison by performing these very important tests on the new chemical warfare suit.”