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NEWS | Nov. 29, 2023

CBRN Soldiers bolster combined defense posture near Korean Demilitarized Zone

By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command

A deployed U.S. Army Chemical Corps company is training together with U.S. and South Korean military forces near the world’s most heavily guarded border.

American Soldiers from the 59th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Company (Hazardous Response) “Mountain Dragons” are bolstering the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance combined defense posture during a rotational deployment near the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Since arriving in South Korea in July 2023, the Fort Drum, New York-based CBRN company has trained with maneuver forces for a wide variety of combat missions in support of the 23rd CBRN Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and Eighth Army.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philip M. Ellis, the 23rd CBRN Battalion warrant officer, said the Mountain Dragons have integrated with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; 210th Fires Brigade; and 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade.

“The 59th CBRN Company has focused on warfighting first during its nine-month rotation to South Korea,” said Ellis, a native of Honolulu who has served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps for 16 years. “The Mountain Dragons regularly practice their ability to quickly assemble and perform their mission of providing CBRN reconnaissance and decontamination support.”

The 59th CBRN Company has also focused on supporting counter weapons of mass destruction training missions, including combating chemical, biological and nuclear hazards.

“The Mountain Dragons put their skills and experience to the test with an intense seven-day validation exercise where the company’s performance was exemplary, exploiting chemical, biological and nuclear targets across a non-continuous area of operations consisting of underground facilities,” said Ellis.

During the validation exercise, the Mountain Dragons tested their tactical and technical proficiency to conduct their wartime missions, including complex night and day chemical, biological and nuclear training missions.

“I observed 'greatness' from the 59th CBRN Company,” said Ellis. “The company performed at a high level and overcame all obstacles, even with a rigorous timeline, and achieved validation status. I’ve observed six rotational chemical companies in the Republic of Korea and the 59th stands out by far as the best rotational chemical company to fight tonight.”

The company also trained together with numerous Republic of Korea military units during Exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield in August.

Republic of Korea Army Brig. Gen. Jaehoon Yoo, the commanding general of the ROK CBRN Defense Command, recognized the Mountain Dragons for their service on the Korean Peninsula.

The 59th CBRN Company (Hazardous Response) is part of the 83rd CBRN Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier CBRNE formation.

American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.

Units from the 20th CBRNE Command routinely deploy to South Korea.

The ROK-U.S. Alliance marked its 70th anniversary in October 2023. The alliance was officially established by the Mutual Defense Treaty that was signed on October 1, 1953.

Forged in the fire of war, the ROK-U.S. Alliance provided the security on the Korean Peninsula that enabled one of the greatest success stories of the 20th century — the rise of South Korea from the ashes of war to become one of the world’s leading economic and cultural powers.

Capt. Evan P. Shortsleeve, the commander of the 59th CBRN Company (Hazardous Response), said it was an honor to uphold the storied legacy of generations of American Soldiers who have served in the alliance that has defended liberty on freedom’s frontier for more than 70 years.

"I am proud of the Mountain Dragons service on the Korean Peninsula as the most forward hazard response company in the U.S. Army during the 70th year of the ROK-U.S. Alliance," said Shortsleeve, a native of Litchfield, Connecticut, and graduate of Norwich University. "The Mountain Dragons are fighting well above their weight class as we focus on warfighting to increase the proficiency of the interoperability between U.S. forces and ROK partners."

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