VICKSBURG, Miss. (July 16, 2014) -- As the 401st Chemical Company out of Boston prepared to deploy, they shone as a top unit in their field.
The unit, currently deployed to Kuwait, was awarded the 2014 Major General William L. Sibert Award in the Reserve category, recently at the 2014 Chemical Corps Regimental Ball at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
"It feels great to win this award. This is the first time in [our] unit history [we've received] this award," said Capt. Aaron J. Salter, commander of the 401st Chemical Company, in an email. "The Soldiers put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to complete all of the required (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) training prior to the mobilization."
The Sibert Award is an annual acknowledgment of the best chemical units in the Army.
The competition is broken down into Active Component, Reserve and National Guard categories. Its objectives are to recognize excellence in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and to instill pride and reinforce mission readiness, leadership, discipline and organizational excellence.
Earning this achievement took a lot of commitment from the Soldiers in the unit.
"Some of the Soldiers have been actively engaged and away from their families and civilian jobs since October 2013," said Salter.
But that drive is what, according to Salter, set the unit apart.
"The hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of the Soldiers, family, and friends of the 401st Chemical Company is a true testament to the Army Reserve and its mission by 'enabling the Army to do more with fewer resources, by providing a flexible, well-trained, complementary force that can expand and contract to meet the specific needs and challenges of each new mission,'" said Salter.
Commitment from the unit members wasn't the only reason for their success, according to Salter. They also had other support to make sure they were successful.
"The unit had the support of ARCENT (U.S. Army Central); 1st Army; the 371st Chemical Company; leadership from the 412th Theater Engineer Command to include the 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and the 479th Chemical Battalion; Fort Leonard Wood; and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, to find the funding, equipment, and training resources to meet the requirements of the mission," said Salter.
To earn the award, the 401st was evaluated on individual training, collective training, maintenance and inspections, organizational excellence and a narrative summary from the commander.
In individual training, the unit was evaluated on all 15 Army Warrior Tasks and averaged a first time pass of 99.4 percent. Additionally, they were the first Army Reserve unit to complete two months of training on the M1135 Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle, with 25 Soldiers earning an additional skill identifier to operate the vehicle. They also certified more than 100 Soldiers as hazardous materials technicians.
In collective training, the unit was able to evaluate all their mission essential task list tasks as trained. These tasks evaluate a unit's specific skill set, as well as combat skills, to assess if a unit is prepared for deployment.
The unit stood out in the maintenance category by sustaining more than 99 percent of their equipment as mission capable for the past year.
In organizational excellence the unit's Soldiers earned six Army Achievement Medals, eight coins of excellence, eight Physical Fitness Excellence Badges and a certificate of achievement.
Additionally, the unit routinely conducts joint exercises with other units in Kuwait. They have also initiated a partnership with the Chemical Defense Unit, Kuwait National Guard and have conducted two leader engagements.
According to Salter, this achievement means a lot to the 401st, and shows their dedication.
"This award allows the 401st Chemical Company to be recognized by the rest of the CBRN and Army Reserve community," said Salter. "It also immortalizes the hard work and dedication this unit has shown to towards this deployment and the Army."
Soldiers in the unit agree, hard work was key to accomplishing this.
"When you speak of the unit as a whole, you have to take in to account all the long days, late nights, planning, trials, failures and accomplishments and coming together as a team to accomplish an end state," Staff Sgt. Shafeek Karamat, 401st CBRN Reconnaissance non-commissioned officer and 2014 CBRN NCO of the year, said in an email. "The Sibert Award embodies the overall hard work and dedication each Soldier demonstrates to the unit and the imprint they wish to leave in their Army career and their legacy."
There is no higher level to compete at, but Salter wishes there was because, "We would win that award as well."