Col. Vance Visser takes command of chemical, biological school

Col. Vance Visser, a 26-year veteran with degrees in biology and chemistry from Vanderbilt University, took command of the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School after an August 17 ceremony at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Visser was, until recently, the deputy director for future plans and deputy director for current operations of the U.S. forces in Iraq. Visser said bringing lessons from Iraq to his new role as commandant of the CBRN School will be a priority during his tenure, according to the Pulaski County Daily.

“It’s not just myself or the commanding general; it pretty much permeates all echelons of leaders,” Visser told the Pulaski County Daily. “We bring in relevant experience and introduce it to the training base.”

Visser has had a leading role in hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and destroying what stores of material Iraq contained that could be used as precursors since 2003.

“From a theater perspective, there’s a lot of what I would consider remediation activities that need to take place; that’s not just a challenge in Iraq but a lot of places around the world, so there’s work to be done, pretty much in eliminating residual stocks and such globally,” Visser said.

At Fort Leonard Wood, soldiers from the compound’s Engineer School, Military Police School and CBRN School meet to plan ways to solve problems in a way that mirrors their work on a battlefield, where they will all have to come together to deal with unexploded ordinance and other potential CBRN threats.

“For us, primarily, the folks who actually do that analytical work are EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) techs,” Visser told the Pulaski County Daily. “Military police as well as CBRN forces and EOD are oftentimes task-organized as part of a first response capability so that all of those complimentary capabilities reach a particular location of a blast concurrently so it can be secured, initial assessment done, and then the analysis.”

This will be the first time Visser has had command of a school, but his background includes time as an instructor at West Point Military Academy, the Army General Staff College and the School for Advanced Military Studies.

“Phil is a warrior, a professional and 21st century leader,” Maj. Gen. David Quantock, Fort Leonard Wood’s commander, said, according to the Pulaski County Daily.