Innovation of 184th Airman leads to first CBRN University

By Staff Sgt. Alex Brun, 184th Wing Public Affairs.

Master Sgt. Ross Chappell, superintendent of Emergency Management, 184th Civil Engineer Squadron, brought military members from different branches together for an intense two-week training at Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii, July 29 through Aug. 9.

The class, called CBRN University, provided classroom and hands-on training for specific skill-sets in the career field.

CBRN – Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear – was a main focus area for emergency management personnel during this training.

The EM career field is small compared to other vocations within the Department of Defense, and training opportunities are limited.

“There hasn’t been any joint service training in a CBRN atmosphere for Guardsmen,” said Chappell. “We needed a CBRN University, where you get down and basic with the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and the Air Force.”

Each military branch prioritizes CBRN in their own unique way. For instance, the Marine Corps focuses heavily on battlefield emergency response tactics in correlation with their mission.  The Air Force trains with an emphasis on base protection.

While deployed and with differing focuses, it’s important for emergency managers to understand how each branch approaches their response.

“Deployments now are more and more a joint operation, especially in emergency management,” said Chappell. “CBRN specialists are a tiny group, so getting to know other service components’ capabilities, limitations and what they are trained on will help pull everyone together quickly to accomplish a mission.”


This training opportunity came about because Chappell recognized a gap, built connections and pursued a solution.

“We called the first week CBRN 101,” said Chappell. “Each service took a lead during the day for the first week of classroom work and taught the basics of a skillset.”

The 184th emergency management Airmen got the opportunity to see and work with the equipment of other branches, observe their tactics and apply knowledge learned to real-life scenarios.

The class allowed EM personnel to sign off on training items that are critical to their skill progression.

To sharpen skill and develop as a team, joining together as a joint force to prepare could be instrumental to future success.

“As long as we can continue with this type of training, that is going to make us much more complete emergency managers for the Air Force and the Air National Guard,” said Chappell.

Participants who attended CBRN University hope this will become an annual training opportunity.

“Don’t operate in a bubble, look outside of it and find out what we are lacking,” said Chappell. “Then, recognize what we are doing great and how we can help someone else with that.”