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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 25, 2024

Coast Guard Academy graduates receive weapons of mass destruction training

By Jennifer Osetek, Coast Guard Office of Specialized Capabilities/Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Program

The Coast Guard Academy Class of 2024 is semper paratus for any threat — even a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident (CBRN). As these threats increase, it is critical to train our members and to raise awareness and for them to take this knowledge into the field with them. 
During the Ensign Transition Course in May, (previously known as Pre-Graduation Week), the Coast Guard Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Program in the Office of Specialized Capabilities (CG-721) held its third annual CBRN training at the academy. The cadets participated in online training and then took part in the practical steps of donning and doffing various types of personal protective equipment (PPE) in sessions run by the Special Missions Training Center (SMTC). The office aims to offer this training across the Coast Guard—from the academy, to boot camp, to Officer Candidate School (OCS).  
The cadets were excited to don their protective equipment as they studied their roles for the exercise. In the course introduction, cadets learned about the history of CBRN events, including anthrax attacks on Capitol Hill, the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics, the Fukushima reactor meltdown, and chemical weapons in Syria. The range of circumstances, responses, and their successes and failures show that the diverse nature of these threats makes the Coast Guard’s CBRN capabilities so critical.  
Capt. Ed Hernaez, the Coast Guard Academy’s commandant of cadets, observed portions of the course and the practical CBRN personal protective equipment (PPE) training. The Office of Specialized Capabilities will continue to work with the academy's faculty members to incorporate CBRN training into coursework and the curriculum there. 
CWMD program manager Tom Murphy stressed the importance of CBRN knowledge, training, and awareness across the service. “CBRN may not be a statutory mission of the Coast Guard,” he explained, “but it’s an ongoing threat that servicemembers could well encounter. That’s why it’s critical for graduates of the academy, for example, to be educated and trained before arriving at their first unit.” The Coast Guard counters global and domestic proliferation of weapons, dual-use materials, and weapons components transported by the high seas.  
“Our first line of defense to prevent proliferation of these substances and their delivery systems is the identification and interdiction of these threats before they enter or depart a U.S. port,” Murphy said. “Early interdiction and identification can limit the magnitude of any incident, particularly in the case of WMD/CBRN release.”  
CG-721 is eager to offer training across the Coast Guard. If your unit is interested in receiving CBRN training, please contact the SMTC CBRN Scheduler at D05-SMB-SMTC-CBRNTRNG@USCG.MIL


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