Pine Bluff Arsenal, AR (ARKANSAS)

 

Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA) is situated in the Southeast portion of Arkansas. It is located 35 miles Southeast of Little Rock. Its landmarks include the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and the Union Pacific Railroad. Highway 65 is also located nearby.

The primary mission of Pine Bluff Arsenal is to significantly impact the Integrated Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Life Cycle Management System. Pine Bluff Arsenal is the American warfighter’s source of highly sophisticated chemical-biological defense products and services, as well as other intricate munitions. Needless to say, Pine Bluff Arsenal is crucial to the country’s national security and interests.  It is also responsible for the Technology Development Phase, Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase, and Production and Operational Support Phase.

Pine Bluff Arsenal was built just before the United States decided to fight in the Second World War to create combustible ammunitions. Its operations continued after the Second World War but they had to be put on hold for a while after the outrage against Agent Orange. One of the most colorful parts of the history of Pine Bluff Arsenal was in the 1970s, when there was a strong outcry against the production of biological weapons. Agent Orange is one of the strains of biological weapons created by the Pine Bluff Arsenal. It was a highly dangerous element, as 150,000 children affected with Agent Orange were born with birth defects. Extra toes and fingers, cleft palate, and mental disabilities are only the few symptoms of Agent Orange infliction. This enraged many citizens. Because of this, President Nixon had the biological and chemical agents destroyed.

Pine Bluff Arsenal is now considered a safe place for dangerous weapons that are eventually disposed of properly and safely.

Pine Bluff Arsenal is one of the designated areas by the United States Army for chemical weapon storage. There are various chemical weapons and munitions in the PBA containing highly lethal and dangerous elements (e.g. GB or VX nerve agents, HD blister agents, and the mustard blister agent). The army also put up the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (PBCDF) alongside Pine Bluff Arsenal. The former was built to finally destroy the chemical weapons that the Pine Bluff Arsenal was holding until November 2010. After destroying the chemical weapons stockpile, the PBCDF and PBA are now closed down for closure procedures.

Pine Bluff Arsenal and Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility work together to destroy chemical ammunitions. One of the well-known weapons that they destroyed is the M55 GB rocket. They also destroyed GB containers along with the GB rockets. In October 2007, the processing of M55 VX rockets was launched. All the chemical agent-filled rockets were destroyed in February 2008. In December 2008, the destruction of mustard agent-filled ton containers commenced.

Safety is a premium in Pine Bluff Arsenal because chemical weapons can trigger life-threatening diseases. PBA has premium storage security to ensure that the handlers and the people within the vicinity are safe from harm. Transportation, treatment, and disposal of highly sensitive munitions are executed under strict guidelines and requirements. By eliminating the threat of aging chemical weapons, the safety of the community and the nation is ensured. Storage and incineration are guaranteed safe because only devices such as high-temperature incineration technology are used in processing the chemically-loaded weapons.

Pine Bluff Arsenals current commander is Colonel Franz J. Amann. He is a graduate of the Chemical Officer Basic and Advance Course, Airborne and Ranger School. He also studied in the Air Force Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Joint Professional Military Education Phase II at the Armed Services College, Norfolk VA., and the Navy War College, Newport RI.  Colonel Amann took on a lot of responsibilities before landing a position in PBA. He was an S-2 security officer for the  558th U.S. Army Artillery Group in Athens, Greece. His career also took him to Berlin as a G-3 nuclear/biological/chemical officer, commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 5-502nd Infantry Batallion, and commander of A Company.

Pine Bluff Arsenal is run by at least 200 soldiers and 1,000 civilians. Together, these employees manufacture chemical, incendiary, pyrotechnic, riot control, and smoke munitions. Protective clothing and masks are also manufactured in Pine Bluff Arsenal. The facilities of PBA are very important because this is the only place where white phosphorous-filled weapons are loaded.

One of the paraphernalia that is of relevance to the Pine Bluff Arsenal is the Deactivation Furnace System or the DFS. It is one of the important requirements for destroying different munitions. It can incinerate chemical agents, explosives, propellants, and (chopped) rockets. The Chemical Agent Transfer System is also needed in disposing of chemical agents. This airtight glove box is where containers of chemical agents are placed. Afterwards, the containers are attached to a pumping unit for draining. The transfer system is very secure to avoid any fatal leakages. The Raman Spectrometer is used to identify the contents of a Chemical Agent Identification Set. This used to be part of the soldiers training in identification and handling of warfare weapons. The Raman Spectrometer is a set that has a portable computer, Raman spectrometer or laser, and a fiber-optic probe. The Explosive Destruction System (EDS) was created as an on-site treatment of chemical weapons in a safe atmosphere. The EDS is good enough for emergency operations as well. The device is easily transportable for utmost convenience.

Pine Bluff Arsenal has gone through many controversies but today, it remains a legitimate institution. Pine Bluff Arsenal is responsible for the manufacturing of protective gear, as well as destroying dangerous and chemically-loaded warfare agents that may harm the fighting body of the nation as well as the civilians. In November 2010, PBA announced to the public that the remaining chemical agents in the facilities have finally been destroyed safely.

Pine Bluff Arsenals ultimate goal is to protect the United States and its inhabitants. Inhabitants do not only mean the human citizens of the country. Part of Pine Bluff Arsenals goal is to protect the environment from the harsh effects of dangerous chemicals from warfare weapons.

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