III MEF Get New M50 Gas Masks
CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa - The III Marine Expeditionary Force will be the first MEF to receive the new M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask starting Monday, according to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear officials at Camp Courtney.
Camp Hansen-based units will be the first to receive the masks, Camp Foster and Kinser will follow with gas masks being issued from Consolidated Storage Facilities aboard each camp. Camps Schwab and Courtney and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will be issued masks through a mobile Mask Issue and Recovery Point.
CBRN sections will coordinate with units to ensure accountability of the old M40 gas masks to expedite the trade-in for the new M50 masks.
About 10 percent of the Marine Corps CBRN community met to train with the JSGPM, develop a letter of instruction for MEF units and address the way ahead for the CBRN community as it fields new and emerging capabilities and technologies to better deal with CBRN threats.
The M50 JSGPM's features include: lighter weight, larger field of vision, 24 hours of chemical and biological agents protection, self-sealing valve for filter exchange in a contaminated environment, breathing resistance reduction, modular lightweight load-carrying equipment compatible carrier and a service life indicator.
The new mask will also have improved speech capabilities. It is adaptable for use in air traffic control and combat vehicles. When used with combat vehicle attachments, the M50 becomes the M51.
Some of the additional authorized list items for the mask include: carrier extension strap, sunlight/laser outsert with outsert pouch, vision correction assembly, audio frequency amplifier and individual equipment carrier components.
When used by air traffic control, the mask has AAL items including: ATC microphone, M51 microphone adapter, cable assemblies and microphone cable.
The mask's combat vehicle components include: M51 combat vehicle hose assembly, M51 combat vehicle protective hood, M51 combat vehicle communications lead, M51 combat vehicle microphone, carrier extension strap and M51 combat vehicle microphone adapter.
The mask is important because of its increased level of protection and ability to operate in chemical and biological environments as well as some toxic industrial chemical environments with the addition of external filters," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Albert Andriotti, CBRN officer-in-charge, command element, III MEF.
The new mask is specifically designed to keep Marines alive and able to perform the mission in a CBRN environment; the new mask will greatly increase confidence levels and ensure Marines succeed when faced with this threat, Andriotti said.
"Chemical attacks can happen at any time in any place. It is one of the most far reaching, universally emerging threats. Just because the threat has not been there in this war does not mean the threat is not there," Andriotti added.
Though the components of the M40 and the M50 are different, the new masks feel similar when worn, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert J. Andrews Jr., CBRN chief, command element, III MEF.
"If you're at all familiar with the M40, then the new mask will seem familiar," said Cpl. Andrew V. Lopez, CBRN noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF.
All services plan to use the M50 JSGPM, said .Andrews.
"It's exciting to have new equipment, and it's good to know we have joint service standardization. The CBRN program has more relevance if every branch of service has the same equipment," Lopez said.
This standardization will allow Marines to find parts for the gas masks while stationed at any unit or service, Andriotti commented.
"This mask will greatly increase the comfort and confidence of Marines while performing mission essential tasks," Andriotti said.