US Army civilian chemists deploy to identify suspected chemical warfare material | Article






Kevin Wioland, a CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) chemist, inspects a sample he received, Sept. 12, 2021, during a joint training exercise with the 22nd Chemical Battalion held at the Mission Training Complex, in Fort Bliss, Texas. Wioland operated inside CARA’s Heavy Expeditionary Mobile Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo by Marshall R. Mason)
(Photo credit: Marshall Mason)


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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – U.S. Army civilian chemists protect U.S. troops by providing chemical and explosives forensic analysis to combatant commanders.

Civilian chemists from the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Analysis and Remediation Activity (CBRNE) deploy around the world to detect a wide range of chemical warfare agents ( CWA), CWA precursors, CWA breakdown products, toxic industrial chemicals and materials, illicit substances and explosives.

Based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the Army’s Civilian CBRNE Analysis and Remediation Activity is part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all-hazards command.

From 19 bases across 16 states, soldiers and civilians of the 20th CBRNE Command confront the world’s most dangerous dangers in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

“Our primary mission is to provide combatant commanders and their staff with rapid identification of recovered suspected chemical warfare materiel with a high degree of confidence allowing them to make battlefield decisions based on the results,” said said Matthew Kalfoglou, analytical chemist at CARA.

From maintaining vehicles, equipment and instrumentation to developing new procedures for faster or more reliable data, Kalfoglou said being a chemist requires the flexibility to provide world-class support to commanders. fighters.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Kalfoglou served as a communications, navigations, and mission systems avionics technician on the B-52H Stratofortress, where he maintained radios, navigation equipment, and mission systems. electronics needed to place the bombs on the target. He was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, and he deployed to Diego Garcia and Guam in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

After completing his Air Force service and graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, he decided to continue serving his country.

“After graduating, I started looking for government jobs, knowing that I wanted to serve my country again in another capacity,” Kalfoglou said. “I found a job offer for a CARA internship in 2014, I applied and since May 2015, I have been part of the CARA team.




US Army civilian chemists deploy to identify suspected chemical warfare material



U.S. Army civilian chemists from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Analysis and Remediation Activity deploy around the world to detect a wide range of chemical warfare agents (CWA), CWA precursors, CWA decomposition products, toxic industrial chemicals and materials, illicit substances and explosives. Based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the Army’s Civilian CBRNE Analysis and Remediation Activity is part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all-hazards command. Courtesy picture.
(Photo credit: courtesy)


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CARA chemists help prepare troops for all-hazards operations by building mock, clandestine weapons of mass destruction labs that they can locate, seize, and exploit.

“(Being a CARA chemist) requires an individual to be flexible and self-motivated,” Kalfoglou said. “One day an individual in the United States might be performing preventative maintenance on a vehicle and the next day they might be on a plane heading to a deployment location analyzing a suspect (chemical warfare material).”

Individuals must have at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from an accredited college or university to become a chemist at CARA.

“To become a successful member of the CARA team, an individual must have diverse experience in many areas,” Kalfoglou said. “In addition to a scientific background, experiences in creative problem solving, mechanical equipment, or military background greatly benefit the organization in achieving its goals.”




US Army civilian chemists deploy to identify suspected chemical warfare material



Kevin P. Wioland (left) is a U.S. Army civilian chemist with the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Analysis and Remediation Activity. A native of Jackson, New Jersey, Wioland decided to choose a career with CARA because it was outside of the traditional “chemist” career that most envisioned. Courtesy picture.
(Photo credit: courtesy)


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Kevin P. Wioland is also a chemist at CARA. He decided to choose a career with CARA because it was outside of the traditional “chemist” career that most envisioned.

“I thought my scientific knowledge, soft skills and previous experiences were a good fit with what CARA was looking for in a chemist,” said Wioland, a native of Jackson, New Jersey. “Being with CARA for a while now, I look forward to going into work every day knowing that the work that I and other team members do is helping to make this world a better and safer place. “

In addition to supporting exercises, Wioland has traveled the world to support US forces.

“I’ve traveled to many places across the country as well as outside of the United States in the Middle East,” Wioland said. “The highlight of my career was when I had the opportunity to deploy with CARA in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, knowing that the critical information I provided impacted decisions made. in the real world.”

“There are a lot of things to do to be part of the CARA team and you have to be a well-rounded chemist, driven, eager to learn and not afraid to get your hands a little dirty in the process,” said Wioland, who decided to pursue a career in analytical chemistry and forensic analysis while pursuing his master’s degree.

Franz J. Amann, director of CARA, said army chemists play a vital role in preparing for missions and protecting US service members.

“Chemists are helping to field our expeditionary laboratory capabilities,” said Amann, a retired Chemical Corps officer from Spartanburg, South Carolina. “This is a challenging and rewarding career for chemists who want to serve and defend their country. Our civilian scientists are constantly in the lab honing their skills and developing new test procedures. Our chemists perform complex analyzes with state-of-the-art equipment, giving combat commanders confidence in our in-theatre validation results. This helps the commander and his staff make operational decisions based on our test results.

CARA regularly has open job postings for chemists. Listings can be found on USAJobs.gov by searching for APG – Chemist Job Series 1320. Grades may vary between GS-09 and GS-13 depending on requirements and individual experience. There are also opportunities to do an internship with the CARA lab. If an individual completes their internship, they may continue to work with CARA as a permanent employee or seek other government employment opportunities.