Army Chemical Officer

One of the more recent billets created in the Army is the Chemical Officer.  The Army Chemical Officer is the person considered the expert on issues of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological or other weapons, and in the area of weapons of Mass Destruction. The Chemical Officer is the person responsible for advising the Commander on all radiological and NBC weapons issues, warfare, defense and homeland protection issues.  The position of Army Chemical Officer also deploys Chemical Army units to support combat with smoke and flame weapons, chemical or other technology management items. The Army Chemical Officer is normally a 2nd or 1st Lieutenant, and they may be responsible for: -Controlling and commanding chemical operations with units and armed forces. -Coordination of chemical soldiers at every level from platoon to company, battalion and higher, in both multinational and United States Army operations. After commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant officer in the Army, a Chemical Army Officer candidate will attend the Chemical Basic Skills Officer Course, where you will learn tactics, leadership skills, procedures and practices, as well as operational aspects of serving as a Army Chemical Officer.  Some of the training will be in the classroom and will be very heavy on chemistry and science coursework, while other training will be held in the field and on the job. To be successful as an Army Chemical Officer, you have to be able to exhibit certain qualities.  These are qualities that any one wishing to serve in the Army as an officer must possess. You should have self-discipline, intelligence, confidence, initiative, and be assertive.  You should be physically fit and able to perform under a variety of mental and physical stress situations.  True leaders are able to seize up situations swiftly and make decisions quickly even those that are vital and have a lot riding on them. Leaders focus on mission first, and show respect and provide encouragement for subordinates, and leadership to other military Servicemembers in their command. Chemical Officers often continue in the Operations career field, increasing to higher levels of responsibility and leadership, moving into command and control levels of Army leadership. Chemical Officers may continue in the Operations career field, serving in Chemical Corps at ever increasing levels of leadership and responsibility. An Army Chemical officer will rise until they command a company of Chemical Unit soldiers (200-300 soldiers armed with Chemical equipment).  They act to help develop doctrine, organization and equipment unique for the mission of chemical Army units.

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military dot image Dwight    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

good day what’s the length of the basic chemical officer course?


military dot image disappointing career    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

I am a soon to be former chemical officer and I want it understood that this branch is failing. There are three major areas, all inter connected, that create a downward spiral for success. These areas are a lack of senior-level leadership, outdated doctrine and obsolete equipment.

Lack of leadership: When I arrived at my first BN, the S3 was surprised to find out that not only does BOLC not train Chemical Officers in USR but that it isn’t even our specific duty. He just knew that every unit he had been to did it this way. Though one example, it is very common to be shuffled off to staff and do USR. Even more disturbing is it is easily possible to spend an entire Lieutenancy on staff. The various Generals and Colonels have been so ineffective at defining what a Chemical Officer does that the role is defined for them. Worse is the use of the branch detail program to coerce individuals with no background or interest in the line of work to fill slots that they can’t due to the branch’s undesirability.

Outdated Doctrine: At BOLC we learned about mustard gas, sarin gas, VX and pretty much everything the Kaiser could throw at us. The mention os TICs, TIMs and general HAZMAT was confined to a 2 week portion of a 16 week course. The reality of the Chemical Corps is that the doctrine has grown stale and laughable. There has not been a credible, systematic and organized CBRN threat to American troops in a considerable amount of time. Until this is addressed the Corps will have a proven track record of failure.

Obsolete Equipment: Most equipment fielded to Soldiers for CBRN defense has not seen an update since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although recent strides in modernization have come about, they tend to focus on making the equipment look cool rather than increasing or modifying capability. The NBCRV and the M50 pro mask are just rehashed versions of the M93 Fox and M40 pro mask, respectively.

In conclusion, the life of a Chemical Officer is pretty substandard. In essence, this job becomes a professional operations officer without the training to make the job more pleasant. Maybe someday these structural issues can be addressed and the Chemical corps can become relevant but until then there is a great deal of disappointment in store.


military dot image larryf    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Great post! Thank you!


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