Company E recruits fit their gas masks on their heads to ensure a proper fit before going into the confidence chamber during field training at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. The confidence chamber is designed to build the recruits’ confidence in their gas masks.
The Marines of Company E stood around the inner-perimeter of the dark, empty bunker illuminated by a single, rickety fluorescent light, anxious for what would happen next.
“Gas! Gas! Gas!” shouted Cpl. Jason Parks, nuclear, biological, chemical defense instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Edson Range, Camp Pendleton Calif.
They were just introduced to chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, commonly known as CS, during field exercises in the second phase of boot camp.
Company E Marines gathered together in the confidence chamber where they became familiar with and gained trust for their gas masks.
Pvt. J. D. Lopezluna, Platoon 2102, Company E, feels the burn after being introduced to CS gas and emerging from the confidence chamber in Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. CS gas is used as a riot control agent and causes irritation of the eyes, skin and throat. It causes coughing and excess mucous production.
The gas used to train Marines with their masks is used as a riot control agent similar to tear gas. Parks said the Marines Corps uses this to train recruits and Marines because it is non-lethal. However, he said that individuals who come in contact with the gas definitely feel its presence.
The Marines learned every aspect of their mask, how to don and clear their mask to ensure they were breathing clean air and most of all, they learned that if used properly it can save their lives.
“I was kind of excited about going in the confidence chamber because of all the stories I heard about it before boot camp,” said Pvt. Eric S. Engleking, Platoon 2101, Company E. “I was a little skeptical about the equipment at first because it seemed so simple, but I saw what a difference it made when we had to take it off inside the chamber.”
Engleking said going through the confidence chamber and experiencing it first-hand boosted his confidence in his gear and agrees that it is vital for each Marine to go through the training.
Recruits inspect every part of their masks before entering the confidence chamber to ensure there are no rips or tears that will result in a leak.
“Going through NBC training is a major milestone recruits look forward to completing in boot camp,” said Parks. “It gives them a basic knowledge of NBC which they will need in the case of NBC warfare.”
When introduced to CS gas, an individual may experience burning skin, irritation of the nose and throat, coughing, excess mucous and watery eyes.
Recruits from Company E submerge their gas masks in water after emerging from the confidence chamber in an effort to rinse off excess CS residue.
Company E Marines remained in the confidence chamber for about 10 minutes with their mask off for a total of about two minutes throughout their three exercises.
With NBC behind them, the Marines of Company E leave recruit training with the confidence and education to survive chemical attacks. NBC training is one of many factors that builds a well-rounded Marine, versatile enough to withstand almost any threat he is faced with.
A Company E drill instructor helps a recruit create a seal on his mask inside the chamber. Without a proper seal, CS leaks into the mask causing discomfort and irritation of the skin and sinuses.
With NBC training behind them, the Marines of Company E graduate today, ready for new challenges and experiences.