ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Element, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives was formally activated in a ceremony hosted here Wednesday by Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

The new organization, structured as an AMC separate reporting activity, will contribute to the national chemical weapons demilitarization imperative through its mission to destroy the chemical weapons stockpiles at Pueblo Chemical Depot, Colo. and Blue Grass Army Depot, Ky.

Aca,!A"Chemical demilitarization is unlike any other mission in our Army,Aca,!A? Griffin said. Aca,!A"There is no more critical mission than ACWAAca,!a,,cs in the welfare, well being and safety of the people of this nation. When we look back years from now, weAca,!a,,cll owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the work youAca,!a,,cve done.Aca,!A?

Congress created the ACWA program in 1996 to research and develop alternatives to the baseline incineration destruction technology. Since that time, the programAca,!a,,cs focus has shifted from the successful demonstration of alternatives to managing the design and construction of neutralization pilot plants at the Colorado and Kentucky sites.

Its new designation as an Army Aca,!A"element,Aca,!A? an Army organization assigned to a non-Army program, signifies the official change from the programAca,!a,,cs former alignment with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency.

As part of the ceremony, Dr. Arthur T. Hopkins, acting Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs) officially presented ACWA program manager Kevin J. Flamm his management charter. Flamm, a member of the Senior Executive Service, will report directly to the Department of Defense, as mandated by public law.

Aca,!A"Chemical weapons demilitarization is a complex, challenging and dangerous mission,Aca,!A? said Hopkins. Aca,!A"This highly visible program to eliminate chemical weapons from the face of the earth is very important to the entire Department of Defense, as well as the nation and the world.

Hopkins stated that Flamm is Aca,!A"ideally suited to meet the challenges ahead,Aca,!A? noting his decades of experience in similar chemical programs. He added that the new program manager has the Office of the Secretary of DefenseAca,!a,,cs strongest confidence and support.

Aca,!A"It is the men and women of the U.S. Army who have made the United States the worldAca,!a,,cs leader in the safe and environmentally sound destruction of chemical weapons,Aca,!A? Flamm said.

Commenting on the ACWA government and contractor team, he added, Aca,!A"They, like I, do not view this program as a job, but as a duty to our country.Aca,!A?

Music for the ceremony was provided by the Brass Quintet of AMC Band, and the Color Guard was fielded by Soldiers of the 20th Support Command, both stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground.