ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – An Army civilian established the first Surety Office at the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier deployable all hazards command.
Christopher J. Gutberlet serves as the first Surety Manager for the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command.
Gutberlet coordinates staff support and provides surety program oversight for the CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, an all Army civilian activity that conducts technical escort missions of surety and non-surety chemical material.
From 19 bases and 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous weapons in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
“The most important aspects are coordination at the U.S. Army Forces Command, Department of the Army and Department of Defense levels to ensure policy that meets the tactics, techniques and procedures of the technical escort team and the development and execution of a one-of-a-kind exercise program that integrates local, state and federal emergency management agencies,” said Gutberlet.
In May, the 20th CBRNE Command conducted the first major interagency exercise in more than 10 years at the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) Training Facility for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.
Gutberlet said the research enabled by the Surety Program safeguards U.S. troops and American citizens from the threats posed by chemical weapons, which were banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Signed by 165 nations in 1993 and in effect since 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention aimed to eliminate this entire category of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Gutberlet said the DoD Schedule 1 chemical program allows, under the Chemical Weapons Convention, for the research and development of cutting edge personal protective equipment, chemical monitoring devices and chemical decontamination capabilities for DoD agencies.
A former U.S. Army preventive medicine noncommissioned officer, Gutberlet said the Surety Program not only prepares the U.S. military to operate in a WMD environment but also helps civil authorities to prepare for a WMD attack on the homeland.
“Those capabilities trickle down to provide unparalleled equipment at the local and state levels,” said Gutberlet. “The program also allows the Department of Homeland Security to provide state-of-the-art chemical training for local, state, regional, territorial and federal emergency management personnel in the event of a chemical weapons attack on U.S. soil.”
“That capability is paralleled on the military side by the Chemical Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, which trains Soldiers to respond to a chemical attack in combat,” said Gutberlet. “The program is on the tip of the spear for our nation’s ability to prepare for a combat or domestic chemical attack and the consequence management after an event.”
A native of Pensacola, Florida, Gutberlet has served at 20th CBRNE Command since March 2006. He joined the command as the first environmental science officer in the Surgeon Section. In 2008, he moved to the Risk Management Section as a safety manager and worked his way up to the deputy director position.
He also served on a special assignment as the 21st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company (WMD) safety officer for six years. The Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico-based company supports missions to defeat and mitigate the effects of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Gutberlet has traveled across the nation and around the world with the 20th CBRNE Command. He said the highlight of his 14 years at the command was serving as the safety director for Exercise Eager Lion 2010 in Jordan with the responsibility for the safety of more than 12,000 multinational troops during the month-long exercise.