SEOUL, South Korea -- Highly specialized nuclear teams from the United States and South Korea strengthened their interoperability during NDT-NCT Partnership VIII on the Korean Peninsula, March 20 – 24.
U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Teams (NDT) trained with their Republic of Korea (ROK) counterparts from the ROK Nuclear Characterization Teams (NCT) during the defensive-oriented exercise.
Maj. Ariel A. Alcaide, the deputy team leader for Nuclear Disablement Team 3, said the teams have forged an important partnership that contributes to security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in Northeast Asia.
“The NDT-NCT partnership is unique to the NDTs,” said Alcaide, a former military intelligence officer who also served as a nuclear logistics planner aboard the U.S. Strategic Command’s Airborne Command Post. “Due to our similar mission set, the NDT-NCT partnership is the only relationship the NDT has with an allied nation military force.”
Alcaide said the NCTs and NDTs serve as the premier nuclear infrastructure characterization assets for their respective nations.
While there are many similarities, the U.S. and South Korean nuclear teams have different unit compositions and missions. The South Korean teams include Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) personnel from the ROK Army, ROK Navy and ROK Air Force who are part of the joint ROK CBRN Defense Command while the U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Team has the unique on order mission of disablement.
An Afghanistan veteran from Granada Hills, California, Alcaide earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cal State Northridge and a master’s degree in information operations from the Naval Postgraduate School. He said his passion for math and science led him to become a U.S. Army Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction officer (FA 52).
Following his tour at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based Nuclear Disablement Team 3, Alcaide will report to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he will earn his PhD in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
As frontline warriors who directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence, U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Teams exploit and disable nuclear and radiological Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries and they facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.
Nuclear Disablement Team members also serve with U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive (CBRNE) Response Teams in the interagency National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collection Task Force on a rotational basis.
Part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Army’s Nuclear Disablement Teams — the NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals” — are all stationed on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
From 19 bases in 16 states, American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
In addition to the three Nuclear Disablement Teams, the one-of-a-kind 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the U.S. Army’s active-duty Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity and five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams.
Alcaide said NDT-NCT Partnership VIII gave them the opportunity to train together on the Korean Peninsula.
“The NDTs and NCTs were able to plan and execute missions together and work hand-in-hand in areas that allow us to communicate effectively between each other and our Soldiers downrange,” said Alcaide. “This is a giant leap from the previous partnership events. In addition, both teams formed special bonds and friendship that each team member will cherish for the rest of their lives.”
Alcaide said the exercise made both teams stronger and contributed to the readiness of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, which will mark its 70th anniversary this year.
“As an ally and partner over several decades now, it is important we continue to strengthen our relationship with the ROK NCTs and improve our ability to operate together in the same mission space,” said Alcaide. “This goes with our motto of Katchi Kapshida or We Go Together!”