By Bethani Crouch
A new exhibit at the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Museum at Fort Leonard Wood features the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity role in chemical weapons history.
The exhibit, installed June 17, highlights CMA’s success in storing and destroying munitions at seven chemical stockpile sites, and its continuing mission to store the two remaining U.S. chemical stockpiles, protect communities surrounding sites, assess and destroy recovered chemical materiel, and comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty.
The activity’s planning team worked with leadership and subject matter experts to develop an exhibit that reflected CMA’s significant role in chemical weapons history. Darryl Briggs, a retired Chemical Corps officer and now CMA Combatant Command Support Integrating Officer, coordinated with CMA public affairs and the museum staff to plan the exhibit’s design and installation.
“We decided it was a good idea to tell our story and show all our former sites and what CMA accomplished there,” Briggs said. “My COCOM team and CMA public affairs worked together to make it happen.”
The exhibit tells the activity’s story in three parts, beginning with Congress tasking the Army in 1985 to eliminate chemical weapons, the United States signing the CWC Treaty in 1997 and the 2003 reorganization that created the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency.
Photos and text describe successful destruction operations at the Army’s former stockpile sites and continued missions at the remaining sites in Colorado and Kentucky. The display also includes background on CMA programs like its Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate and the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program.
The second element, with information provided by the CMA Stockpile Management Office, includes a map of former stockpile locations with details on types of munitions stored, the amount destroyed and the percentage of the stockpile eliminated at each site.
“It’s incredibly gratifying to the workforce at these former stockpile sites to see their decades of hard work recognized and documented for history,” said CMA Chief of Stockpile Management Alan Lott. “We are excited to see our mission on display for the world to see.”
The third feature of the exhibit summarizes the CMA mission — to comply, store, destroy and protect.
“CMA is a quiet, professional organization that has accomplished so much as a key part of the Chemical Corps history, and its accomplishments and capabilities need to be remembered,” said CMA Director Col. Kelso Horne. “There is no better way to demonstrate our history than to have a display at the home of the Chemical Corps, at its museum, so that everyone will have the opportunity to see what CMA has accomplished – a truly amazing organization, people and capabilities.”
The exhibit was installed in time for the Chemical Corps Regiment 101st anniversary celebration June 24 through 28. The event brought an influx of visitors from across the Army, providing a great opportunity for soldiers and their families to learn about CMA’s contributions to the Army.
The museum’s initial plan for the display was to interpret the role CMA plays in the nation’s chemical stockpile storage and destruction operation. The CMA exhibit planning team went a step further, describing not only the activity’s role, but also providing illustrations and statistics previously unavailable to museum staff.
“Our museum storyline covers the role the Chemical Corps has played in the production and use of chemical weapons, and a natural question our visitors have is, ‘Do we still have chemical weapons?’” said Museum Director Kip Lindberg. “The new CMA exhibit helps to better explain how our remaining stockpile is being securely stored and safely destroyed.”
The Chemical Corps Museum serves as a repository for artifacts depicting our nation’s chemical warfare history. It also serves as a learning resource for Chemical Corps soldiers training at the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School.
The museum receives nearly 200 visitors a day, including service members, civilians and families attending military school graduations.
“For most civilians, their visit to the museum will be the only interaction they have with the Army and the Chemical Corps, making it vital that we present our history in an informative, educational and accurate manner,” Lindberg said. “The new CMA exhibit helps us to accomplish this goal.”
As CMA continues to support the Army Warfighter through its programs and capabilities, it will use unique opportunities like the museum exhibit to tell its story.
“There is no organization that does what CMA does for the Army and our nation, and they are doing it very efficiently and effectively,” Briggs said. “That’s why it’s important for us to have this exhibit to share our history and unique capabilities with the Army and others so that they remember.”
(Editor’s note: Crouch is with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity Public Affairs Office.)