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NEWS | March 21, 2024

Army civilian operational planner recognized for enabling global CBRNE deployments

By Walter Ham 20th CBRNE Command

An Army civilian operational planner was recognized for enabling global deployments at the U.S. military’s premier Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) command.

Nathan C. Cantwell was selected as the 20th CBRNE Command Civilian of the Quarter for October through December 2023.

The 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty U.S. Army’s 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, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams (Infrastructure).

American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and multinational operations.

Cantwell supports these high stakes missions by developing, preparing and publishing operational plans for 20th CBRNE Command units. He has routinely responded to emergent requirements for CBRNE support around the world.

In addition to being an operational planner for the 20th CBRNE Command, Cantwell is the Army Reserve operations officer at Army Material Command – Army Reserve Element (AMC-ARE) Detachment 7, which directly supports the Communications-Electronics Command.

Cantwell serves in the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Current Operations (G3/5) staff office during annual and monthly training.

In this Army Reserve capacity, he has supported exercises, equipment testing, equipment fielding and other events identified by the CECOM commander and staff.

CECOM delivers Command, Control, Communications Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) capabilities, weapons systems, business systems and medical sustainment to enable full spectrum combat operations around the world.

Cantwell is a Field Artillery officer who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served in Germany for 12 years.

He said his service at 20th CBRNE Command as a U.S. Army civilian is an extension of his service for him and his family.

“My time as a uniformed active-duty officer serving the country overseas is what allowed my wife and I to find each other in the first place. Finding a way to continue service in a new role as an Army civilian fulfills that need. It also provides an additional sense of security, work/life balance and predictability than my Reservist time overseas provided in the last few years,” said Cantwell, a native of Phoenix and graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute and New Mexico State University.

“The biggest bonus is the ability to maintain our inclusion to the comradery that exists with Soldiers,” said Cantwell. “The community the Army and military service has provided my family through some truly tough times has been greatly appreciated and we feel a sense of duty to pay it back and to pay it forward.”

Cantwell said his civilian operational planner position has brought together his Army civilian and Army Reserve service since the 20th CBRNE Command and CECOM are both headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

“There are so many instances where life on both sides of the coin come together to my benefit,” said Cantwell. “Whether it be my continued learning through Intermediate Level Education Common Core in the Reserves or just staying informed on daily changes in the big ‘A’ Army as an Army civilian, it really allows me to bring more to the table and be more active to make positive change for our subordinate commands and units.”

In his role as a civilian operational planner, Cantwell said he always works to provide as much predictability as possible for Soldiers serving and deploying at the unit level.

Cantwell said he plans to continue to focus on his family life while leveraging lessons learned to better serve the Army and nation in positions of greater responsibility.

“I am not sure how far that path will take me yet, but it is one that I know will be enjoyable as it has been for the past 24 plus years,” said Cantwell. “My key to success has just been maintaining the course and diversifying. Have the events and paths that I have taken throughout the years been unclear or cloudy at times, sure. But through support, mentorship, resilience and perseverance, I believe I have left some positive mark on the force.”