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News | Feb. 18, 2022

USARCENT participates in exercise Protection Shield III

By Staff Sgt. Anri Baril U.S. Army Central

The third iteration of military exercise Protection Shield concluded Jan. 27 following nine days of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) survivability training between the United States and Saudi Arabia at the 5th Air Defense Group Base.

During the exercise, over 400 participants from multiple organizations were synchronized to train in a real-world threat environment demonstrating their readiness to respond as a team to regional threats. This biennial training event involved U.S. Army Central’s Task Force Spartan, U.S. Air Force Emergency Management, U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal, U.S. Air Force medical experts, Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Civil Defense Force, Red Crescent, Ministry of Health, and other Kingdom of Saudi Arabia civilian organizations working side-by-side toward a common goal.

“Protection Shield III is a great opportunity for the U.S. military to come together with Saudi Arabia and represents a unique opportunity to both learn from and teach our training partners, honing our crisis response capabilities,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Hartley, the Task Force Spartan CBRN officer in charge. “We remain committed to increasing our interoperability with our key partners; such tactical cooperation maintains our ready, responsive forces and reinforces our commitment to regional stability.”

The culminating event of Protection Shield III involved a response to an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) chemical warfare attack and a mass casualty event. During the event an enemy UAS was dispatched to deliver notional chemical munitions as friendly forces observed the threat and neutralized it. After the threat was neutralized the U.S. and Saudi forces responded to decontaminate the area, vehicles, and each other to restore operations.

"We had to make a few adjustments to follow strict COVID-19 protocols that were implemented but we adapted the training and we continue to practice measures to mitigate and minimize the spread of COVID-19,” said Maj. Juan Rodriguez the lead exercise planner from the Build Partner Capacity Directorate at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. “Working with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides a valuable opportunity to mutually improve our regional postures and cooperatively safeguard against specific threats."

During the exercise participants were provided with interagency and mutual support components of a weapon of mass destruction incident from the Red Crescent, Ministry of Health and information on civil defense. Leading up to the culminating event Soldiers and airmen participated in mission analysis, command post exercises, detecting chemical agents, chemical munitions delivery systems, chemical decontamination practices, and major incident responses to chemical attacks.