The U.S. Army has started to implement a major restructuring of its program to destroy chemical weapons in an effort to streamline the demilitarization process. The Army announced February 18 the creation of the provisional Chemical Materials Agency (CMA), which is expected to become an official Army organization by October.
The new agency will be in charge of both demilitarization and storage responsibilities, which were previously conducted separately under the Chemical Demilitarization Program and the Soldier Biological and Chemical Command. A CMA spokesman said February 25 that the reorganization will increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Michael Parker, currently deputy commander of the Soldier Biological and Chemical Command, has been chosen to be the CMA’s acting director. The Chemical Weapons Working Group, an umbrella civil organization that opposes incineration of chemical weapons, welcomed Parker’s leadership of the new agency. The group expressed hope that his reputation for increasing transparency will help to improve relations, which have sometimes been rocky, between the Army’s program and the communities near weapons destruction sites.