ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – The U.S. Army’s three nuclear disablement teams were selected for the Army Deployment Excellence Award in the small unit category.
Soldiers from the NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals” excelled in the Army-wide competition designed to assess a unit’s deployment discipline program.
Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams won the award for fiscal year 2020.
Part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the nuclear disablement teams directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological weapons of mass destruction infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries. The teams also facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.
From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of military operations and civil authorities.
In addition to the three NDTs, the 20th CBRNE Command is also home to 75 percent of the Army’s active-duty chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists and explosive ordnance disposal technicians, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity and five weapons of mass destruction coordination teams.
“We must remain capable of rapid deployment in support of combatant commanders worldwide,” said Maj. Mark S. Quint, the chief of Nuclear Disablement Team 1. “As the NDTs enable the lethality of our supported units, we strive to remain agile, technically proficient and tactically sound to best support maneuver commanders across the globe.”
A native of Paulsboro, New Jersey, who has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, Quint said the NDTs have demonstrated their ability to deploy, move and exploit nuclear infrastructure and safely redeploy to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
The NDTs also support the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Compliance and Verification Team for exercises surrounding their nuclear infrastructure exploitation mission.
Maj. Ariel A. Alcaide, a nuclear operations officer with the NDT 2, said the Army-wide award recognizes the importance of the highly specialized and deployable units.
“The Army recognizes the NDTs adeptness in deploying the teams and their equipment in short notice, anytime and anywhere,” said Alcaide. “The NDTs frequently travel to train or support exercises at home and abroad, and sometimes this entails mobilizing a fully equipped team involving coordination with other services and agencies for transportation and support.”
According to Alcaide, the teams spend an average of 13 weeks on the road every year.
“Most of the time, we travel with or ship our equipment to the destination in order to execute our mission,” said Alcaide, a Granada Hills, California, native who has deployed to Afghanistan. “The plethora of training and experience within the teams are also significant contributing factors, but most importantly, having the support of the professional and hardworking staff of the 20th CBRNE Command enables the success of the NDTs.”
Maj. Stacey M. Yarborough, the deputy chief of Nuclear Disablement Team 3, said it takes a unique mix of experience, leadership and initiative to keep the Nuclear Disablement Teams ready.
A native of Felton, Delaware, Yarborough is a former Chemical Corps officer who became a Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction officer because of her love of science.
Yarborough said the NDTs support the 2018 Department of Defense Nuclear Posture Review requirement to have “advanced forensics and attribution capabilities,” which the teams support during overseas and domestic missions.
“First and foremost, the NDTs serve as a nuclear deterrent,” said Yarborough. “On the battlefield, we have the technical expertise to advise and assist maneuver commanders by identifying and mitigating radiation hazards posed to troops.”