By Brandon MorrisSeptember 14, 2012
Since 1995, the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity's mission has been concerned with chemical stockpile storage and transport on Pine Bluff Arsenal. On Aug. 14, the 17-year mission for PBCA, which included chemical treaty compliance, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, support for the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility and the Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program was formally completed.
The PBCA tenant command came to an end in a formal ceremony attended by the acting director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, the CMA Director of Stockpile Operations, local elected officials, current and former employees. The ceremony began with the history of organizational flags, as the narrator described the strong symbolism of a military unit's colors under which the command operates.
"The colors of a command are passed from commander to commander but today is different because we are marking the decommissioning of a storied unit," said Mike Carpenter, treaty compliance officer and ceremony narrator. "Today, we celebrate the successful completion of the work of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity. Today when the colors of the PBCA are cased for the last time it is symbolizing the completion of the PBCA's mission."
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Damon Pannell, CMA NCO in charge of operations, passed the unit colors to Steven D. Lowrey, PBCA civilian executive, who in turn passed it to Don E. Barclay, CMA acting director, who returned the colors to Pannell, who furled the flag and placed it in a case. This was the formal casing of the colors signifying the retirement of PBCA.
Barclay expressed his appreciation for the work done by the PBCA leadership and employees.
"Thank you for a job well done," he said. "You accomplished the safe destruction of the second-largest chemical weapons stockpile in the nation. Today's deactivation of the PBCA heralds 17 years of dedication, sacrifice and persistence on the part of everyone involved. There should be no sadness today. You completed your job; you did it well and you did it right."
Barclay said that thanks to the work of the PBCA a safer tomorrow was made possible. "I would like to especially thank Steven Lowrey," he said. "As the Civilian Executive, he faithfully served the commanders, and the men and women of the PBCA."
Lowrey expressed his appreciation and admiration for the leadership and workforce.
"The workforce here has overcome obstacles and achieved a high level of performance," he said. "This has been one of the best chemical weapons storage units in the nation. It takes more than commanders and civilian leaders to be successful. It takes everyone involved. Our mission has reached closure and I am proud to have served alongside everyone involved. It has been my duty, honor and privilege to serve with you here."
PBA Commander Col. David L. Musgrave assured those in attendance that the Arsenal would continue to adapt and serve the needs of its country and community. "You safely supervised the second-biggest chemical weapons stockpile in the nation and in the process you made a dangerous job look easy," Musgrave said. "In all of your transportation operations you had zero incidents of chemical weapons exposure. Pine Bluff Chemical Activity, you have performed admirably."
"The Arsenal will look to new ways of doing business," he said. "We would like to support more commercial use of the facility infrastructure."
PBCA provided maintenance, storage and transportation of 12 percent of the nation's original chemical weapons inventory, and ensured maximum protection of the installation and the community population. PBCA completed the transportation and supported the disposal of 90,409 rockets and two bulk ton containers, according to information provided by unit. In conjunction with the non-stockpile program, 4,682 chemical agent ID set components, 56,764 binary chemical agent canisters and approximately 726 recovered chemical munitions have been destroyed.
PBCA was the third Chemical Activity Command to deactivate. Umatilla Chemical Activity was deactivated in July 2012; the Umatilla Depot is now in closure. Newport Chemical Depot closed in 2009.