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New chemical ensemble; a breath of fresh air

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Pelham Myers Jr.
  • 169th FW/PA
The SCANG is issuing a new chemical warfare suit designed to better protect Airmen, while eliminating the mess of residual charcoal on uniforms and everything else the old chemical gear came in contact with. The Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology, or JLIST, chemical warfare suits are deemed to be more lightweight, charcoal-free, and will eventually replace the Battle Dress Overgarment (BDO).

"I love the fact that the new suits have less charcoal, and are much lighter than the old ones," said Master Sgt. Michael Burgess, Warehouse Supervisor of the 169th Logistics Squadron. "To add to that is the convenience of having the more comfortable M50 masks which is being issued along with the JLIST. "The new mask has two filters, instead of the one, which should enable members to breathe easier," said Burgess. "But I guess that won't be confirmed until we begin our ORE/ORI in the year to come."

Staff Sgt. Christopher Cahill, Material Management Journeyman, said that McEntire received approximately 1,200 masks for the swap-out, and hopes to complete the issue during the November UTA. Cahill said that he and Master Sgt. Andrea Hopwood, of the169th Mobility Readiness Spares Package, helped speed the issuing process by inspecting more than 300 masks for possible defects before UTA. "It's also helps save time if the members know their sizes before coming over," said Cahill.

Hopwood said that another important part of completing the swap-out process is to have a fit test done on the new mask in Bio-Environmental to insure that the seal is good. This one-time requirement will also test the drink system. Hopwood said, "This fit test takes about 5-10 minutes to complete, and does not include the gas mask inserts, which must be ordered through your optometrist."

The new chemical ensemble that personnel will receive is the result of a DoD effort to field an 'across-the-board' chemical protective clothing ensemble that is more lightweight than its predecessor. According to the U.S. Army Study Guide, the JLIST has undergone extensive user evaluation and field and laboratory testing, and should reduce heat stress, last longer, and withstand more washings than the previous ones.

Staff Sgt. Sharon English, of the 169th Logistics Squadron, who works with mobility equipment, and is responsible for issuing equipment, such as the JLIST, Masks, Field Gear, and boots said she hasn't heard many complaints about the new JLISTs during the swap-out. "On the contrary, most of the personnel who came in seem to think that the new suits are much better than the old ones because of the elimination of the charcoal," said English. "Others have said that they like the fact that the hood is attached to the jacket, instead of on the mask itself. That alone, should reduce the time it takes to put the suit on."

The JLIST suits are designed to be effective for up to 45 days and can be washed up to six times without reducing their efficiency against chemical agents. They are also designed to easily shed liquids. The fabric is backed with a thin "liner laminate that incorporates carbon beads, and also serves as a "selectively permeable membrane" that lets moisture out, but does not let chemical agents in.

Based on Staff Sgt. Cahill's experience, the combination of the new JLIST and the M50 masks should prove to be a hit among SCANG members. He said that he trained with the M50 in basic training, but when he got to his base, he received the old MCU2P mask. He said he turned and asked someone, "What do I do with this? "I love the new mask, and even ran a 5k with it on," said Cahill. "Quite honestly, the old ones felt like you were sucking air through a straw."

With OREs and the ORI looming in the near future, the JLIST and the new masks are sure to be a breath of fresh air for the Swamp Foxes.