MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- There’s an acrid smell of chlorine and someone around yells ‘Gas!’ and you reach for your mask, in this moment the last thing on your mind is who last performed maintenance or how long it sat in storage you just want to know it works.
The Joint Equipment Assessment Unit conducts repeated evaluation of individual protection equipment, performs field mask repairs, assists commanders in determining the readiness of their assets and monitors and reports the condition and degradation of the IPE for Camp Lejeune and surrounding installations, said Greg Steffne, retired Marine and officer in charge of the JEAU on Camp Lejeune.
“We provide another level of quality control above the unit by randomly selecting 20 percent of their IPE every three or four years for testing. Through this we can get a good idea of how well a unit is taking care of their gear,” said Steffne.
It’s not only important to physically look at the equipment, but to also inspect the facilities where the equipment is stored and how the unit inspects the gear, said Steffne.
“Gear can sit in a box in a warehouse for years and that warehouse can get into the hundreds [of degrees] in the summer and below freezing in the winter; mix that with the moisture we get here on the coast and gear can become unserviceable fast,” said Steffne.
Specializing in the testing and repair of field masks on Camp Lejeune the unit has five testing stations in house to conduct mask leak, outlet valve, drink tube leakage and drink tube resistance tests, said Steffne.
The unit also brings the tests to the unit through the use of their mobile test facility.
“We have some units who have so much equipment, that it would be a huge burden for them to have to bring their IEP out to us, so we bring the testing to them,” said Steffne.
After testing and analysis of the results, the JEAU recommends to the unit’s command how to resolve the issues causing the damage to the IPE with immediate and long term solutions, said Steffne.
Providing ‘cradle to the grave’ care for units IPE gives the JEAU unique perspective and allows them to take usage data back to their parent command the Joint Equipment Assessment Program, said Steffne.
“There was an exhaustive look at the M40 field protective mask and it showed that it had problems with the nose cup chaffing the user so it was brought up to the JEAP and we were able to have the problem fixed at the supply level and have unit replacements sent out,” said Steffne.
The JEAP, replacing the 1984 Marine Corps Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Test and Evaluation Program, is a single point of contact for the surveillance of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense equipment though out the Department of Defense, according to the JEAP website.
“If we can give Marines confidence in their IPE through the testing and advising then we’ve done our job,” concluded Steffne.