FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky – Two Nuclear Disablement Team officers from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command graduated from the U.S. Army Air Assault School on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Maj. Mark S. Quint from NDT 3 and Capt. Derek D. Whipkey from NDT 1 graduated from the rigorous Sabalauski Air Assault School Aug. 10.
The Air Assault Course begin with 303 students and less than half graduated.
According to Quint, in addition to classroom and hands-on training, each student had to pass a nine-event obstacle course, a two-mile run in duty uniform, a timed four-mile run in the PT uniform and six and twelve-mile marches hauling a 40-pound rucksack.
“In order to prepare for these challenges, the NDT hosted several fitness and team building events,” said Quint. “This included coordinating with the Maryland National Guard in order to use their obstacle course (on Gunpowder Range), verifying that each Soldier could complete the foot marches and running the required distances as a team. Each of these events improved our individual fitness levels and fostered strong bonds within our team.”
According to Quint, the NDT Health Physics Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge Sgt. 1st Class Liberio Miguel-Pablo developed training with instructional videos and flash cards to prepare the Soldiers for the course.
A 14-year U.S. Army veteran from Paulsboro, New Jersey, Quint served as a field artilleryman from fire support officer to battery commander before becoming a U.S. Army Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (FA 52) officer. Quint is also a graduate of the Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“After having the privilege to command, I looked to broaden myself both personally and professionally,” said Quint. “FA52 officers have the opportunity to earn graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines, including my personal choice, nuclear engineering. Furthermore, our functional area has a diverse mission, which allows our officers to explore unique opportunities across the breadth of the U.S. Government.”
As frontline warriors who directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence, FA 52 officers advise military leaders and policymakers on counter WMD and nuclear issues and they serve in 20th CBRNE Command’s three Nuclear Disablement Teams. NDTs exploit and disable nuclear and radiological WMD infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries and they facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.
In addition to three NDTs, the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Active U.S. Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal and CBRN forces, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity and five WMD Coordination Teams. The command has Soldiers and civilian based on 19 installations in 16 states.
“Perhaps the most unique aspect of serving with the Nuclear Disablement Team and the 20th CBRNE Command is that while our mission is technically demanding, we must always maintain our fundamental tactical competencies,” said Quint, who has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan as an artilleryman. “As we enable the lethality of our supported units and partner agencies, we must be ready to deploy on the battlefield by any means necessary.”
Whipkey, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer from NDT 1, said the Air Assault Course contributes to molding CBRNE teams that are trained and ready to support maneuver units, special operations forces and interagency partners during large scale combat operations.
“I attended Air Assault School to prove to myself that I could do it and add another military skill that I can use later on in my career,” said Whipkey, a Canton, Ohio, native who previously command the 718th Ordnance Company (EOD) in South Korea.
“The highlight of the school was definitely repelling out of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters,” said Whipkey. “Truly an awesome experience.”
Col. John P. Kunstbeck, the chief of staff and senior FA 52 officer for 20th CBRNE Command, said NDT officers must be fit, disciplined and ready to accomplish their mission.
“Our NDTs have a tremendous responsibility both in our homeland and in overseas large scale combat operations,” said Kunstbeck, a native of Altoona, Pennsylvania. “NDTs are small and each member are WMD technical experts with sound tactical and operational skill, so every member of the team has to pull his or her weight to achieve optimal performance.
“This new opportunity for Soldiers to attend Air Assault School reinforces the NDT requirement to be operationally focused, disciplined and physically fit at all times,” said Kunstbeck.