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Mountain Home airmen train for a chemical weapon attack

Posted at 10:30 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 00:30:18-05

Airmen at Mountain Home Air Force Base have a new way to train for a very timely scenario.

They are spending this week practicing MOPP drills, which involve identifying chemical weapons threats.

With President Trump considering sending troops to Syria, where chemical weapons have been used, this week of drills at Mountain Home Air Force Base takes on added significance.

"The most deadly nerve gas is VX, and a tiny bit on your skin can kill you," said Staff Sergeant James Mulhall

That is why airmen train every year to deal with the threat. They practice, covering all skin and donning gas masks. They also learn to use special paper sensors that change color depending on the type of chemical agent they are exposed to. But this year, instead of a base-wide exercise, they are breaking the training into manageable units.

So while one crew is practicing decontamination drills, "ten feet away, we have an airman actually launching jets. Not being affected by the exercise. In the past, it was base-wide, which stopped the mission, which was not great," said Staff Sergeant Mulhall.

This is the first time Mountain Home has trained this way, and the airmen say the shorter drills are great.

"Yes, it's nice to be able to plan prior to it because it's such a short exercise so that I can really concentrate: 'am I doing this right,' and go step-by-step through a checklist," said Staff Sergeant Jonathon Scott

The practices are important, but it is not about jumping through hoops.

"The goal is not to say we succeeded. The goal is to show where we have issues and problems and highlight the problems and fix them for the future," said Staff Sergeant Mulhall.