Marines Learn How To Detect Invisible Threats

I would love to say this is a post about ghost hunting, but that would be silly.  Ghosts aren’t always invisible.


An AN/PDR-77, a device used to detect and measure radiation, sits outside a simulated disaster site during a 2nd Marine Logistics Group training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Devin Nichols)

Deadly radiation kills if it goes undetected, so it falls upon specially trained Marine to alert units of the unseen danger.

More than 30 Marines from various units within the 2nd Marine Logistics Group learned how to counter radiation by using the AN/PDR-77 during the Monitor Survey Reconnaissance Course.

“Every unit is responsible for having a select number of Marines who are certified with this equipment,” said Sgt. Steven D. Potts, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd MLG.

It could possibly save the lives of many service members, he added.

CBRN defense specialists trained the Marines to use the AN/PDR-77, a small, box-shaped sensor that detects alpha, beta, gamma and X-ray radiation.

“This [course] provides a tool for the commanding officer if we ever face a CBRN attack,” said Sgt. Jason L. Stacy, a CBRN defense specialist with CLR-27, 2nd MLG. “These reconnaissance teams can find the extent of the contamination or radiation, what type of chemical is present or how much radiation is present, and we can use the area or find a clean route through or around it.”

The students underwent more than ten hours of classroom lectures and then had to test their skills during practical application to meet the Marine Corps’ requirements.

The students donned protective suits and gas masks, which formed a barrier against contaminated environments. They then responded to a simulated radioactive catastrophe, where they measured and plotted contaminated areas.

The mission-oriented protective posture gear, better known as MOPP gear, can be a challenge on its own.

“Wearing MOPP gear is not fun,” said Stacy. “It’s hot and even the simplest tasks become difficult while you are in MOPP gear.”

The students filtered their way through the area in groups of three, preparing them to respond as a team to natural or manmade disasters that can cause harmful radiation.

“Not knowing exactly what the contamination is and how much there is can be a challenge,” said Stacy. “The terrain and the time it takes to find the extent of the contamination and spending a long time in MOPP gear can be exhausting.”

Each Marine used the equipment to measure the simulated radiation levels at specific points along the course. They placed the sensors on the ground and then evaluated the results.

The training is conducted once a month so service members  specifically 2nd MLG Marines, can stand ready to respond to radioactive disasters.

Story by Lance Cpl. Devin Nichols
2nd Marine Logistics Group


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