KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Defense Nuclear Weapons School helps teach identification and assessment of threats and response to weapons of mass destruction.
Weapons of mass destruction can be chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents. The difference between radiological and nuclear agents is, radiological material goes through a small but continual rate of atomic decay releasing energy at a stable rate. Nuclear material can be forced to create a chain reaction in the atoms to release a large burst of energy at once.
When used in weapons, the blast from a radiological weapon, Radiological Disbursement Device, is meant to spread the material and is not for the sole purpose of destruction from the blast. The opposite is used for nuclear weapons where the intent is damage from the blast and disbursement of radioactive material.
“We try to teach the frame work of response, from local to national level, and standardize the communication,” said Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician and DNWS instructor Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Raymond Kassow Jr.
In 2013 as part of the force reduction, the budget for EOD was reduced. Prior to 2013, approximately 160 personnel were being trained in EOD. After the budget cut, that number is closer to 900 personnel.
Part of the reason for the increase in people trained, is the sharing of information among government organizations, from the FBI sharing information and education to state and local bomb squads.
“We have to be stewards of our budget, to give citizens the most protection for the lowest cost,” Kassow said.
Another factor is the reduced cost for training. Government agencies only have to pay for travel costs. DNWS can also send instructors to a site to train several people at once.
“We teach assessment and awareness of weapons of mass destruction,” Kassow said.
This means DNWS is teaching people to identify and create solutions using sites such as nrc.gov before an event with a weapon of mass destruction has even happened and to be cognizant of what material and items are in use around local areas of operation.
DNWS teaches students how policies between agencies and national response architecture impact all levels of response. The school also teaches how the response of organizations can shift if radiological activity is detected at an incident or accident situations.
“Incidents are hostile intent, while an accident is basically an act of God,” Kassow explained.
The classes EOD teaches are DNWS Advanced Diagnostics Training-1, ADT-2 and Joint Nuclear Explosives Ordinance Disposal.
The advance diagnostics classes cover the policies of response to a radiological incident. ADT-1 also covers threat awareness and detection, while ADT-2 provides further in-depth training. JNEODC teaches technicians how to respond to a nuclear weapon situation.