ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The 1st Area Medical Laboratory conducted a change of command ceremony at Mallette Hall here July 23.
Col. Matthew J. Grieser assumed command of the one-of-a-kind U.S. Army medical laboratory from Col. Mark C. Carder during the ceremony, which was hosted by the 44th Medical Brigade.
The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 44th Medical Brigade and the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command exercise training and readiness authority over the 1st AML.
From 19 installations in 16 states, 20th CBRNE Command Soldiers deploy around the world to confront and eliminate all hazards from Weapons of Mass Destruction to unexploded ordnance. One of the largest medical brigades in the Army, the 44th Medical Brigade provides health service support and force health protection in support of joint full spectrum operations.
Soldiers from 1st AML deploy as a unit or in task-organized teams to perform surveillance, laboratory testing and health hazard assessments of environmental, occupational, endemic disease and CBRNE threats to support force protection and WMD missions.
Col. James D. Burk, the 44th Medical Brigade commander, highlighted the accomplishments of 1st AML during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe crisis brings out the best in leaders and Mark (Carder) has certainly answered the call,” said Burk, adding that 1st AML was one of the Army’s first operational units to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the pandemic, 1st AML deployed diagnostic capabilities to five different areas around the world, including Japan, Korea and Germany. Soldiers from 1st AML assisted with contact tracing for the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam and helped authorities in the Northern Mariana Islands and America Samoa to develop surveillance laboratories and testing infrastructures.
At their home station of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 1st AML Soldiers also supported vaccination operations.
Brig. Gen. Antonio V. Munera, the commanding general of 20th CBRNE Command, praised the efforts of 1st AML Soldiers during the pandemic.
“When we talk about warrior scientists, you absolutely embody that description,” said Munera. “I don’t know of any organization that has more technical expertise than this organization.”
Munera worked with the predecessor unit to the 1st AML, the 520th Theater Army Medical Laboratory, when he served in Iraq. The general said 1st AML continues to leverage its critical technical and tactical skills to support joint and allied forces.
“You have made a lasting difference not only for our Army but for the nation and that was evident in everything you’ve just done during the pandemic,” said Munera. “Your dedication to enabling lethality and safeguarding the force is essential to keeping us ready to confront and defeat any hazard we might find on the battlefield.”
Following his two-year command tour, Carder will become the director of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board in Silver Spring, Maryland.
A native of Cleveland, Tennessee, Carder thanked his team and said he was blessed to “serve a free country in the greatest Army with the most awesome unit.”
Coming from Fort Detrick, Maryland, Grieser previously served as the director of the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injuries in Combat Program.
A seasoned combat leader who started his U.S. Army career as an enlisted infantry Soldier and a medic, Grieser has deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq five times and has also served in Haiti, Panama and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Grieser, who is from Mulino, Oregon, said he was excited to take command of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory – a small command with a big impact.
“You punch way above your weight class,” said Grieser.