Soldiers test new gas masks at Fort Gordon

Soldiers of the U.S. Army's 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) trained at Fort Gordon in Georgia last week to field test the newly-issued M50 Joint Service General Purpose Masks.

The M50 kit could replace the M40 series masks as the universal CBRN protective mask throughout the U.S. military. The 67th ESB, which is part of the 35th Signal Brigade, tested the features of its new masks in a real chemical environment, Dvidshub.net reports.

"The good thing about it is it protects your face and airways better, it's easier to maintain, it gives you better sight vision because the sight is all the way across the face now," Sgt. 1st Class Dawnmarie White, a CBRN noncommissioned officer for 35th Signal Brigade, said, according to Dvidshub.net. "You have two filters instead of one so you don't have to hold your breath to change the filters and you can change them out one at a time."

During the test, the soldiers went through instructional stations to learn about the maintenance, functions and components of the mask. The 67th ESB then went into a chamber filled with CS gas, a riot control agent, where the battalion performed movements to ensure a proper seal and changed out of their canisters. The 67th ESB is the first in the brigade to receive the new piece of equipment.

"(The M50s have) been out for a while, but we just so happened to get them filtered down," White said, according to Dvidshub.net. "Now we have to get the soldiers not only validated, but certified on them and part of that is knowing how to (perform preventive maintenance checks and services) and going through the chamber to make sure they fit properly."

The M50 kit is more compact, lightweight and comfortable than the M40 series protective mask, which has been around since the 1990s, Dvidshub.net reports.