FORT MEADE, Md. -- The company that Capt. Katie Nisbet commands may only have 33 Soldiers, but it delivers a big bang.
She commands the 722nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She is also one of just 28 company-grade officers and warrant officers from across the Army’s three components selected this year for the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
“I like being in a small group,” Nisbet said of her company. “I get a lot more one-on-one interaction.”
With only two lieutenants in the unit working on their EOD certification, Nisbet often has the opportunity to serve as the duty officer and go out on calls with ordnance teams.
Her teams have recovered over 100 pieces of unexploded ordnance from Fort Bragg and surrounding communities. For instance, in February, a civilian found a live grenade while magnet fishing on post and her team responded.
The 722nd EOD Company is also one of only two conventional airborne-capable EOD companies in the Army. While maintaining emergency response proficiency, her company trains to support the 82nd Airborne Division and the Immediate Response Force mission.
Nisbet said that focusing on both missions is a balancing act, but she believes that building a climate of teamwork and positivity can lay the foundation for success.
“I find a lot of joy in the work I do,” she said. “I actually get to come to work every day truly loving my job.”
Nisbet said she admires the talent and professionalism of her Soldiers, adding “I definitely feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The key to leadership comes down to commitment and genuinely caring for people and their well-being, she said.
“Respect is the cornerstone,” she said, along with integrity.
“Respect for yourself” and respect for others is so important, she explained.
She met her husband, Capt. Justin Holmes, through the Reserve Officer Training Corps while at Boston College and University of Arkansas, respectively. They were married in 2016.
Although the size of her organization allows her to take a more personal approach, sharing leadership challenges with her husband is tremendously helpful, she said.
“I can always count on him to tell me the hard truths,” she said.
Before taking command, Nisbet served as an aide-de-camp for Brig. Gen. William King, who commanded the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive materials Command before he recently retired.
She traveled a lot in that position, she said, as the 20th CBRNE Command covered a geographically dispersed area over 16 states. She also had the opportunity to travel several times to South Korea and to Iraq while with the command, she said, which had a profound impact on her perspective and leadership style.
She hopes to have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., in October for the MacArthur Leadership Award ceremony. The awards are normally presented by the chief of staff of the Army at the Pentagon in late May or early June, but the ceremony was postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Editor’s note: This is the final MacArthur Leadership Award profile in a series of four.)