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These Marines go in right after chemical and biological attacks

Some of the most dangerous threats that could be employed against the U.S. military or homeland are the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.


While attempted dirty bombs or anthrax attacks have usually been stopped by the intelligence and police services before the attacks took place, there's a group of Marines and sailors who train and constantly prepare to react to a successful attack.

Dubbed the Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, these Marines are ready to go into nightmare attacks after they happen.

"CBIRF is the only unit in the Marine Corps trained to respond to the worst scenarios imaginable here and abroad," Erick Swartz, senior scientist with CBIRF and designer of the CBIRF battle drills, told a Marine Corps journalist. "At any moment CBIRF can and might be called on to save lives."

Here's a look at America's 911 call for a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack:

1. The CBIRF is capable of deploying on short or no notice. Once they arrive, they have to confirm what the chemical and biological weapons in play are.

Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), show Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, commander of Joint Task Force Civil Support, how they collect samples of chemical agents during an official visit at Naval Annex Stump Neck, Md., Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Herrera)

2. While operating in a chemical, biological, or nuclear-contaminated area, the Marines wear special gear to protect themselves.

Sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, examine a contaminated chamber using a Multi-Rae monitor while donning their Class A personal protective equipment which includes self-contained breathing apparatus during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

3. When they arrive in a disaster area, platoons deploy throughout the area to start rescuing trapped people.

Marines with search and extraction and technical rescue platoons, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIIRF utilize high-pressure lifting air bags to remove rubble to free a simulated victim of a notional nuclear explosion during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

4. In a city that has suffered an attack, the Marines would face many technical challenges, so they train on the most difficult possible rescues.

U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescues simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

5. The Marines' mission requires a lot of specialized equipment, like these Paratech struts for lifting light structures and vehicles.

Marines with technical rescue platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, use Paratech struts to stabilize a truck and extricate a simulated victim during training with soldiers from 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

6. The unit has to be prepared to rescue people from factories, warehouses, and other challenging structures as well. Here, they practice a medevac from a simulated steam plant explosion.

U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescue simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

7. The CBIRF has to search from the top to bottom of each structure while shoring up damaged areas to make sure the building doesn't collapse.

U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous simulated casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

8. The unit even trains to recover people from the wilds. Here, a Marine trains on rescuing a parachutist trapped in a tree.

Cpl. Mitchell Reck a rifleman with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, climbs a tree using proper harness and rope techniques to save a simulated parachutist that got caught on a tree during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 24, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

9. The Marines could face a continuing threat, so they train to find and defuse or destroy dangerous devices.

U.S. Marines with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBRIF) participate in a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responding to and deactivating a notional explosive threat found at a steam plant on Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

10. The recovered survivors need lots of medical care, so the Marines evacuate them to field decontamination areas and hospitals as quickly as possible.

U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

11. As areas are secured and cleared, the teams write notes at the entrances to let other Marines know the status of the building and the local rescue efforts.

A Marine with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, marks an X to indicate the area covered and casualties found during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

12. At decontamination areas, the Marines clean each victim before they're taken to the medical platoon for treatment. This gets most contaminating agents off the of the victims and protects them, the Marines and sailors, and other patients.

Marines with decontamination platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, decontaminate simulated victims that were pulled out of the "hot zone" (contaminated area of operations) before each victim gets seen by medical platoon during a 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

13. Thankfully, the Marines haven't had many real-world incidents to respond to, but they do have real missions. For instance, they protected both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

Marines from the search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, line up for accountability after a deployment drill during Democratic National Convention, DNC, in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. CBIRF's Marines and sailors worked alongside federal and local agencies to provide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, CBRNE, response capability for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

14. The CBIRF Marines and sailors constantly work to make sure that the rest of us can be rescued if the nightmare scenario ever comes to pass.

U.S. Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon (IDP) part of the primary assessment team, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) locate and assess casualties found at a steam plant during a training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall's Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

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