On 9 February 2024 the JCBRN Defence COE was honoured to host the Command Team from the 97th Chemical Battalion (US Army Reserves) out of Wackernheim, Germany. This meeting was in response to a chance meeting between the author of this article, Director of the Education, Training & Evaluation Director, COL Michael Firmin, and the unit’s Command Sergeant Major, CSM Dmitriy Yurganov, at a defence leader’s conference in Warsaw in November 2023. From this meeting, the two leaders decided to seek out further areas in which each organization could support the other.

Although the current 97th Chemical Battalion just activated in September 2023, their lineage goes back to May 1944 when they were stood up in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in preparation for duty in the European Theater during World War II. Serving honourably and making significant contributions during the Rhineland Campaign and Campaign of Central Europe, the unit only lasted sixteen months, deactivating in September 1945.

The visiting command team of Battalion Commander LTC Joe Garcia, Executive Officer MAJ David Benning, and CSM Yurganov, was eager to begin the 97th Chemical Battalion’s new legacy; the JCBRN Defence COE was just one of many organizations they were reaching out to in this endeavour. Throughout their visit, the leaders discussed establishing an enduring line of communication between the organizations that includes an exchange of expertise and best practices, and how the Centre supports the NATO community.

As with many of our visitors, Vojenský výzkumný ústav provided the 97th Chemical Battalion’s command team with a tour of the Kammená Chaloupka live agent training facility (LAT). This tour highlighted the Centre’s annual LAT Course, a course in which the Centre takes great pride.

The JCBRN Defence COE thanks the leadership from the 97th Chemical Battalion for a productive visit and looks forward to an enduring partnership.


Author and Photos: COL Michael Firmin