Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM), United States Army
The United States Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) is a support organization focused on the development, response to, and safe handling of chemical weapons. Formed in 1998 from the merger of two earlier groups, SBCCOM is heavily involved in preparedness training for both military and civilians to prevent or, if necessary, respond to terrorist attacks.
In December 1998, the United States Army combined its Chemical and Biological Defense Command and its Soldier Systems Command to form SBCCOM. The new command, which brought together expertise in soldier, chemical, and biological areas, was responsible for research, development, and implementation of chemical, biological, and soldier missions. It would also oversee the chemical weapons stockpile of the United States Army from its headquarters in the Edgewood Area of the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Mission. The mission of SBCCOM is to develop, integrate, acquire, and sustain soldier and NBC [nuclear, biological, and chemical] defense technology, systems, and services to ensure the decisive edge and maximum protection for the United States. Provide for the safe storage, treaty compliance, and destruction of classified material.
To this end, the command is involved in three principal areas: research, development, and acquisition of chemical and biological weapons and defense systems; emergency preparedness and response in the event of attack; and the safe, secure storage, remediation, and demilitarization of chemical and biological weapons.
Realizing mission objectives. Research takes place in two principal centers. At the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, project managers undertake concept exploration, demonstration, validation, and emergency manufacturing development for production of chemical defense systems, aerosol systems, flame weapons, and obscuring smoke. At the Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts, SBCCOM analysts address problems of total life-cycle management for the soldier through centralized development, procurement, and integration. These issues involve matters such as shelters, airdrops, field service, and organizational equipment.
SBCCOM oversees the safe and secure storage of chemical weapons at eight depots scattered across the United States: Edgewood, Maryland; Blue Grass, Kentucky; Newport, Indiana; Anniston, Alabama; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Pueblo, Colorado; Tooele, Utah; and Umatilla, Oregon. At these sites, SBCCOM also regulates U.S. compliance with international treaties on chemical weapons. Additionally, a post at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado is charged with safely destroying old chemical weapons.
In the area of emergency preparedness and response, SBCCOM directs the Army Technical Escort Unit, which is globally deployable and has a history that goes back to the Korean War. (Other aspects of SBCCOM activities date to the period between the world wars, which saw early efforts to control the spread and use of the chemical weapons that had been displayed with such gruesome effect on the Western Front in World War I.) SBCCOM also leads the Domestic Preparedness Program, which in 1998 made the news with education efforts in 120 cities nationwide.
█ FURTHER READING:
Dezelan, Louis A. "Preparing for Terrorism." Law & Order 46, no. 10 (October 1998): 107–110.
Thompson, Neal. "Preparing for Disaster." The Sun. (Baltimore, MD) (March 13, 1998): 3B.
United States Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). < http://www.sbccom.army.mil/ > (January 27, 2003).