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MOPP-level awareness important for UCI success

MCCONNELL AFB, Kan. -- With McConnell's 2008 Operational Readiness Inspection approaching, it is important people get their minds on the "ability to survive and operate," or ATSO, mindset.

One of the pillars of ATSO involves mission oriented protective postures, more commonly called MOPP levels. People should also be familiar with the different MOPP options and split MOPP levels. Understanding these tools and how the base implements them will help people survival during chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear and explosive operations.

MOPP levels are threat-tailored and offer five levels of protection. Each level dictates which items of a ground crew ensemble, which includes all nuclear, biological or chemical threat protective gear and field gear, Airmen should don.

The levels are as follows:

MOPP level 0 - Individual protective equipment must be within arms reach for immediate donning. Carry additional equipment in C-Bag. This MOPP Level is primarily used during pre-attack or when a nuclear, biological or chemical threat exists.

MOPP level I - Wear overgarment and field gear. Carry overboots, protective mask and gloves. Additionally, aircrew personnel are required to carry a hood. This MOPP level is used during pre-attack operations or when an NBC threat exists. At this time, M-9 paper, a type of NBC detection paper, must be placed around wrists, biceps and ankles.

MOPP level II - Wear overgarment, field gear and overboots. Carry protective mask and gloves. This MOPP level is used during pre-attack and post-attack. This protective posture may also be authorized when an NBC attack occurs with little or no warning.

MOPP Level III - Wear overgarment, field gear, overboots and protective mask. However, aircrew members wear only overgarments, protective masks and hoods. Carry gloves - except aircrew members who are not required to carry gloves. This MOPP level is primarily used for pre-attacks and post-attacks, as well as during periods of increased alert.

MOPP Level IV-This level involves all aspects of the ground crew ensemble, including the overgarment, protective mask, hood, gloves, overboots and field gear. Aircrew members follow previous instruction but will also don an overcape. This MOPP level is designed for post-attacks or when NBC attacks are imminent or in progress.

MOPP options are variations of the MOPP levels. The "no mask" option authorizes members to don only their protective masks; however, Airmen following this MOPP option must wear their battle dress uniform sleeves rolled down.

The "no BDU/flight suit" option allows authorizes members to wear physical training gear rather than BDUs/flight suits under their GCEs. People wearing a previously contaminated IPE should not use this option.

The ventilation option allows Airmen to unzip their or joint service lightweight integrated suit technology, or JSLIST, jackets about half way. This option is automatically revoked with each MOPP-level increase.

Split-MOPP divides the airbase into multiple sectors and assigns each sector a threat-based protective action and MOPP level. It allows us to pass from one sector to another using a zone transition point. People should call their unit control centers before passing through a ZTP. Every ZTP has signs that include information such as a zone designator, a zone's MOPP level, the time and date a zone's criteria was established and individual actions people must take prior to entering a zone.

Before entering a dirty zone, Airmen must assume the required MOPP level, have a full canteen, M-8 Paper (NBC detection paper), and decontamination kits. Each ZTP has supplies, which assist people in performing required actions. Supplies include M-8 and M-9 Paper, potable water, decon kits, and glove and boot decon troughs.

People wishing to return to a clean sector must get UCC authorization, check themselves and their assets for contamination, decontaminate themselves and their assets and mark any contaminated assets.

People should also apply identification markings to their gear. These markings should be placed on the back and front of both the helmet and hood and on the wearer's right breast. The markings should have a person's name, rank and service component written on them.

Following these instructions will help Team McConnell members successfully negotiate the upcoming ORI and will ultimately increase their chances of survival during real world contingency situations.