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Extra protection at seaports.

Servicemembers at the port of Ash Shuaiba, Kuwait can breathe a little easier knowing new technology will provide extra security in the case of chemical or biological contamination.

The Contamination Avoidance for Sea Ports of Debarkation (CASPOD) equipment is part of a Department of Defense sponsored and funded program to increase warning, awareness, protection, and restoration of equipment and capabilities at seaports in the event of contamination.

"The equipment will mitigate the effects of a chemical or biological attack or disaster," said Thomas Smith, Advanced Technology Demonstration operational manager for the U.S. Army Central Command.

The 143rd Transportation Command, from Orlando, Fla., is the first recipient of the CASPOD package which includes chemical detectors, sensors, protective masks and suits, computer systems, a medical network and software for medical surveillance, and decontamination shelters.

The equipment also includes backpacks with spray solutions and a GL 1800, or modified commercial de-icer, which is used for dispensing foam-based solutions on vehicles and contaminated equipment.

"If there was some sort of incident, deliberate or by accident, we can restore capabilities much faster here and with fewer disruptions to the mission for Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLLC) in regard to everything from logistics, rotations, or other missions," said Maj. Steve Misczenski, nuclear, biological and chemical officer, CFLLC.

Providing proper training and execution of the new technology is also ensured through the training packets and a full time contractor on site at the port. The contractor will remain for a year and a half, said Smith.

"143rd personnel trained on the computer system and the GL1800 decontamination truck, including involvement in staff exercises which simulated chemical releases at the SPOD," said Capt. Andrew Ziegenfus, the CASPOD project manager for the 143rd.

The CASPOD ACTD is a result of years of research and preparation.

In 1996, the General Accounting Office began investigations and found shortfalls in decontamination equipment and warning systems at critical theaters of operations. In 2001, after years of development, the CASPOD ACTD was proposed to U.S. Central Command. The program continued undergoing tests, demonstrations, and improvements until its final demonstration in September 2004.

The CASPOD program arrived in Kuwait in September 2005.

"The program is good because it gives us enhanced capabilities with newer and more tailor-made equipment for our environment," said Misczenski. "It gives us the capacity to work faster and better than with the standard equipment we already have."

In the past, eliminating effects from chemical and biological decontamination were accomplished through the help of the fire company, M8 decontamination paper, protective wear, and military and civilian contractor equipment, said Smith.

The new program functions through a series of events which take place both indoors and outdoors.

In the event of a chemical or biological incident, sensors would alert the port, both outdoors and indoors. The sensors, which were placed throughout the port, provide an auditory alert outdoors as communicate the information to a centralized hub. From there, the next steps in the decontamination process would begin, said Smith.

Depending upon the degree of contamination, personnel would either seek shelter until the air is clear or transition to the next stages of the program. If the incident is of a more serious level, personnel would move to the Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter for individual decontamination or also the Expeditionary Medical Support System, which offers a contamination free environment and protection.

The port and equipment would be cleansed through the various CASPOD equipment and solutions.

The port of Ash Shuaiba is the first to receive the package, but it is not the last, said Misczenski.

"The CASPOD ACTD will remain at the port until the Army replaces it within its own inventory, or decides to replace this package years down the road," he explained.

The port of Ash Shuaiba serves as an example for the CASPOD ACTD and the future of port security.

Recently, Sue Payton, deputy under Secretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and Concepts and the acting director of Defense Research and Engineering, visited the Soldiers at the port to see first hand how mission essential the CASPOD ACTD is to troops and ports.

Demonstrations, such as these, may help provide the future funding and CASPOD technologies for other ports, said Ziegenfus.

"She is here to take a look at how we are utilizing the program," Misczenski said. "She will report back to the Secretary of Defense and update him on how the units are utilizing and training on the equipment."

Until the funding is approved and more CASPOD ACTDs are distributed to other ports, the Soldiers at the port of Ash Shuaiba continue training and demonstrating the equipment which will not only provide extra security, but help servicemembers at other ports breathe a little easier, as well.

Story and photos by Sgt. Crystal Rothermel 143d TRANSCOM, Kuwait (FWD)
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Title Annotation:New technology
Author:Rothermel, Crystal
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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