ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – U.S. Army civilian chemical engineering technicians from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) conduct critical missions around the world.
CARA is part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command, which is also home to 75 percent of the Active Duty U.S. Army’s CBRN specialists and Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
From chemists to unexploded ordnance technicians, CARA brings together a wide variety of occupational specialists that confront and defeat CBRNE hazards around the world.
Engineering Technician (Chemical) is one of the many professions that keep the one-of-a-kind activity ready.
The highly trained Army civilian technicians conduct a wide array of missions supporting many of the 20th CBRNE Command’s specialized missions.
The missions include supporting the remediation of Formerly Used Defense Sites, conducting Weapons of Mass Destruction characterization and assessment, supporting emergency response overseas and stateside missions for Recovered Chemical Warfare Material and providing technical escort of surety and non-surety chemical material.
“Chemical engineering technicians help to keep our nation’s warfighters and citizens safe through quick response, assessment and remediation of potential and confirmed CBRNE material,” said Jarrod M. Williams, a chemical engineering technician from CARA.
Originally from Somerset, Kentucky, Williams is also in the Air National Guard. He has been at CARA-West Redstone Arsenal, Alabama-based all Army civilian activity for less than a year.
After serving as a toxic material handler for Bluegrass Chemical Activity, he became a chemical engineering technician because he was looking for a new challenge.
Williams said it takes good communication skills and attention to detail to succeed in this high stakes profession.
Trevor V. Donnatien Jr., a supervisory chemical engineering technician from CARA-East on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, said technicians are required to be able to deploy anywhere on short notice. CARA personnel have recently conducted missions in the Pacific area of operations, Arizona, Delaware, Utah, Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey and Colorado.
“Our typical day-to-day operations vary based on what's going on in the world,” said Donnatien, a Felton, Delaware, native who has been at CARA for seven years. “There are many daily initiatives performed that ensure we are prepared and ready at all times. We may set up temporary Weapons of Mass Destruction characterization and assessment sites in the public sector or other Department of Defense locations.”
Donnatien said technicians qualify at the gun range and conduct use of force training to stay ready for armed and unarmed technical escort missions of surety and non-surety materials. In support of their escort missions, the technicians are part of the personal reliability program.
A U.S. Army veteran who served 10 years on Active Duty and three years in the Army Reserve, Donnatien said he was first exposed to the technical escort mission while serving with the 22nd Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort Unit) in 2005.
After leaving the Army, he worked in law enforcement for two years before coming to CARA. One of the reasons that Donnatien became an Army civilian at CARA was to combine his military service with his civil service for retirement purposes.
“During my time with TEU, I worked alongside CARA in two real-world missions,” said Donnatien. “My time in TEU is how I learned of CARA's unique and specialized work.”
Donnatien said a college degree and specialized experience are not required to become an entry-level technician. Military, law enforcement and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Personal Protective Gear experience is helpful but not required.
“We will train the right candidate who possesses the right qualities,” said Donnatien. “Some of the qualities that make a good candidate for the technician position are someone who is hard working, dependable, reliable, trustworthy, possesses the ability to work well in a team environment and works well under pressure.”
Franz J. Amann, the director of CARA, said the chemical engineering technician position is ideal for U.S. Army Chemical Corps Soldiers who are retiring or completing uniformed service.
“They bring the critical skill sets that the Army has already invested in,” said Amann, a retired Chemical Corps officer from Spartanburg, South Carolina. “As a Department of the Army civilian, CARA offers an opportunity for those interested to continue their careers or establishing a second career after a successful military career. The benefit is that individuals can grow in the position without reapplying for the next pay grade. In addition, there is a way for non-retiring Soldiers to apply their years of uniformed service towards their civilian service.”
CARA routinely has open job announcements for chemical engineering technicians. You can find the announcements on USAJobs.gov by searching APG – Engineering Technician (Chemical), job series 0802. Grades can vary between GS-05 to GS-11 depending on the requirements and individual experience.