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Training to Fight Hussein - 2002-11-13


According to U.S. officials the Iraqi government is trying to buy 4 to 5 million doses of the drug Atropine, which can be used among other things as a treatment for nerve gas exposure. The Iraqis have also been trying to buy large amounts of Cipro, which can be used as a treatment for anthrax. It is the amount that Iraq is allegedly trying to buy that has officials in Washington concerned, because as we go down the road to a possible war, chemical and biological weapons could be used. Brian Purchia has details.

One reason the Army trains like this so much is because the Bush administration believes Saddam Hussein -- under pressure -- might use chemical and biological weapons. For American soldiers, protective gear may save lives, but using it is unpleasant.

Everything they do becomes much more difficult, from talking on the radio to trying to repair a truck. Sometimes they might have to stay in this gear for hours or even days. Sgt. Greg Mayo of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain division.

SGT. GREG MAYO, U.S. ARMY 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION
"No one likes to put on the gear. It's hot. It slows you down. But they also know that it's going to save their life if we have to use it."

When monitors indicate no more danger, there is a highly unusual procedure for making sure the area is safe.

One soldier--usually the lowest ranking-- is ordered to take off their gas mask first. Major Darin Lewis of the 10th Mountain Division.

MAJOR DARIN LEWIS, U.S. ARMY 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION
"We try to select the person that is well, expendable, sir."

On this day, it's Private Shevonne Macias.

PRIVATE SHEVONNE MACIAS
"I feel like a guinea pig."

In war it's a deadly serious business for the so-called "volunteer"... a way to make sure the rest of the unit survives.

MAJOR DARIN LEWIS, U.S. ARMY 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION
"We isolate that individual. We remove the weapon from them so they cannot cause bodily harm to themselves or repercussions for being the selected one."

If that person showed signs of illness, another soldier would inject that person with an antidote like atropine. Even the THREAT of this kind of attack can cause massive disruption. Capt. James Wisniewski of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division.

CAPT. JAMES WISNIEWSKI, U.S. ARMY 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION
"It is a technique the enemy could use against us. We have to, unfortunately, react to every attack like it's the real thing."

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