Kadena Airmen to receive new gas masks starting March 1 Published Jan. 27, 2009 By Staff Sgt. Angelique Perez 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- New gas masks will be issued to approximately 6,000 Kadena Airmen beginning March 1. The 10-year project to upgrade the "legacy" MCU-2P gas masks has resulted in the new Joint Service General Protective Mask or M-50, a model that will be used by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. "I think it is a positive improvement," said Master Sgt. Randall Maurer, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron Installation Deployments flight. "I have been in over 20 years and the current mask was just coming online back then. The old mask is outdated. It has seen its day and needs to be retired." The distribution will be set up by squadron and will run similar to a deployment line. The Installation Deployment Readiness Center will produce and run five 35-person chalks per day in coordination with Unit Deployment Managers. "We've got one for every in-position fighting force at Kadena," said Tech. Sgt. Edmund Burke, 18th LRS Readiness Flight. Upon being issued a new mask, Airmen will receive training and a fit test. "With the new mask, you will require a new fit test," said Sergeant Burke. "However, this mask should eliminate about 60 to 70 percent of the hard-to-fit cases that cause people to require an extra-small M45 mask." The new masks are designed to provide a better fit and a better seal for every user. They can be used with the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology Gas Chemical suit and come with hoods that are designed for ground combat action. Some other upgrades include: an updated drinking tube equipped with a switch that will rotate the tube out of the way when it is not in use; an updated carrier system that is adaptable to Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) gear; and a new filter system with an additional filter. "It has self-sealing disks on the filters," said Tech. Sgt. Burke, "so if you were in a contaminated environment and had to exchange one of your filters, you could exchange them one at a time and not expose yourself to any hazards." The new gas masks also have an integrated insert feature with lens inserts that attach to the mask. "Now, you'll actually wear your reading glasses during whatever the tasking is and then, to don the mask, you will remove your eyeglasses and your inserts are already in the mask. So there's no worry about breaking a seal or not getting one by wearing your inserts," said Tech. Sgt Burke. Additionally, the flat front of the new mask will make it easier to shooting the M-16 rifle, according to the sergeant . In conjunction with the distribution of the new masks, there will be an inventory of all training gear on base as well as a recall of the old gas masks and real-world C-bags. These bags will now be stored at the Individual Protective Equipment shop as part of an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiative to have all the gear under one roof. For questions, Airmen should contact their Unit Deployment Manager, or if necessary, the Installation Deployment Readiness Center at 634-0801.