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Mission Ready: mask, suit, boots, gloves

Airmen setting up equipment.

Airmen from the 19th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight assemble a TMQ-53 tactical meteorological observing system during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training, Feb. 6, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The TMQ-53 measures temperature, humidity, wind direction, speed, rainfall, cloud heights and can detect lightening. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Airmen don MOPP gear.

Airmen from the 19th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight buddy check one another to ensure their mission oriented protective posture gear is properly worn, Feb. 6, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Full MOPP gear is established when a unit will be operating within an area of contamination, or if there is an imminent threat of attack. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Airmen inspect TMQ-53.

Airmen from the 19th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight read a TMQ-53 tactical meteorological observing system in mission oriented protective posture gear Feb. 6, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Weather technicians identify hazardous incoming weather that could limit flying missions and must do so in any environment, which includes, but is not limited to; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Performing every day duties, like hauling bulky equipment down the flight line in 90 degree weather or relaying important information to multiple agencies on base, can occasionally be challenging. Imagine the difficulty of completing those tasks with the same mobility you have when wearing an oversized snow suit.

Sweat dripping down your face, pooling at the bottom of your mask, limited mobility, and reduced dexterity are all factors Airmen wearing mission oriented protective posture gear must endure during specific training exercises and real life situations.

The 19th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight performed chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training while assembling TMQ-53, a tactical meteorological observing system, Feb. 7, 2018, at Base Operations on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

“Weather flight identifies hazardous incoming weather that would limit flying missions,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Parsons, 19th OSS Weather Flight NCO in charge. “It’s up to us to get information to the flying units and commanders so they can quickly implement any changes to mitigate negative impacts the weather would cause.”

EXERCISE. EXERSICE. EXERCISE. WE ARE OPERATING IN MOPP LEVEL FOUR. Attack is imminent.

Airmen puts on gloves.
Senior Airman Roy Martinez, 19th Operations Support Squadron weather technician, dons his mission oriented protective posture gear Feb. 6, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The 19th OSS completed a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training to enable Airmen to perform in any environment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)
Airmen puts on gloves.
Mission Ready: mask, suit, boots, gloves
Senior Airman Roy Martinez, 19th Operations Support Squadron weather technician, dons his mission oriented protective posture gear Feb. 6, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The 19th OSS completed a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training to enable Airmen to perform in any environment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Codie Collins
VIRIN: 180206-F-SR928-0137
Weather technicians grab their gas masks, quickly tightening the straps to adjust to their facial structure in under nine seconds. The Airmen don their suits and buddy check one another to make sure no skin is exposed.

The exercise begins.

“During this exercise, we performed our day-to-day operations like we would any other day,” Parsons said. “The main difference was I evaluated the personnel on their ability to do it under the stress of being in full MOPP gear. It gave them a sense of how different it is to setup the equipment outside with a gas mask and gloves.”

Airmen wear full MOPP gear when operating in an area of contamination, or if imminent threat of attack. Full MOPP gear consists of a mask, hood, footwear covers, glove inserts, rubber gloves and over garments.

The extra amount of protective layers can limit mobility and may make it challenging for Airmen to perform any task.

“There are nuts, bolts, screws and wires, so with both glove inserts and rubber gloves on, it gets a little tedious to get the job done,” Parsons said. “Wearing a gas mask limits your vision. You have to turn your whole body in situations where you would normally turn your head.”

The weather flight was able to not only practice in a simulated CBRN environment, they were able to use a tactical meteorological observing system, which is an instrument typically used on deployments.

“The TMQ-53 is essentially a weather station that can be boxed up and transported anywhere,” Parsons said. “It measures temperature, humidity, wind direction, speed, rainfall, cloud heights and can detect lightening.  That’s important because when we deploy anywhere there is an airfield, there needs to be a weather sensor. This particular weather station can be setup anywhere from forward operating bases, bare bone air strips, to well-built bases.”

The TMQ-53 takes anywhere from 30- to 40-minutes to set up, and 19 OSS was able to do just that, even while in full MOPP gear.

“We have to be able to perform our job at a consistent basis, even in MOPP gear,” said Staff Sgt. David Richmond, 19th OSS weather technician. “There are some dexterity issues when wearing it, but overall it didn’t impede our progress. We set the TMQ-53 together pretty fast. It was a great exercise for us to perform and increase our full spectrum readiness.”

Whether rain, shine or operating in full MOPP gear, weather flight remains committed to keeping Little Rock AFB mission ready.

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