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Greetings from Utah, the Beehive State!

May 06, 2012 | Captain Christian Keller

One of the cool things about being in a Chemical battalion is that we get to go to different places for training, rather than just the TAs in JBLM. This time our travels bring us to beautiful and expansive Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The sheer size of this post is incredible. It's about an hour's drive just to get to where we did the gunnery tables, and that's not even on the edge of the area.

An additional benefit of being out here is not only do we have great Chemical experts, but we can actually do our training to the fullest extent without being encumbered by all the environmental laws of Washington state that prevent us from even using hot soapy water in the field because the ant hills are endangered. Out here, though, the platoons are able to use super tropical bleach (STB) in their decon instead of simulating the entire thing as we usually have to do. Also, I heard that yesterday they blew off 70 pounds of C-4 to create a cloud, and then had to immediately MOPP up because of the inherent hazards of creating a cloud in an area that was used to test live nerve agent for years. There is some very cool stuff out here, to be sure!

On the Signal side of the house, my section was charged with setting up not one, but TWO retrans sites to enable us to communicate from our TOC out to the gunnery tables. It was a bit of a headache and required working around the clock for the first few days as we struggled to piece together two 92 systems out of spare parts, and then had to switch out parts when it became obvious that sometimes our power mount just wasn't pushing the signal out strong enough to reach. All together, our retrans reached over 50km straightline distance and covered over 1600 sq km, and still provides better coverage than Verizon out here. I'm very proud of how much my section has accomplished.

It's a great last hurrah for me as we have a real, live, actual trained Signal captain who has just PCS'd to the unit and will take my S-6 OIC position and will accompany my unti in its move to Korea. I'll be moving over to the S-3 shop soon and learn about how operations run on that side of the house. I've been extremely fortunate so far in my lieutenant career. I've gotten to be everything I wanted to be, PL, XO, and now a staff primary. I wanted some experience in the 3 shop(I may be the only person who has EVER wanted to be in the S-3 shop, in the history of the Army) before I PCS'd so I'm looking forward to learning more about how the battalion operates and being part of the machine. Until next time.

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