Kassebaum Assumes Command of USAMRICD
On August 5, Col. Paul J. Kassebaum assumed command of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD) from Col. Robin R. Neumeier. Brig. Gen. Anthony L. McQueen, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, Maryland, hosted the ceremony, which took place at USAMRICD headquarters on Aberdeen Proving Ground South and was streamed on Facebook.
McQueen characterized Neumeier as a commander "full of energy" and "exactly what ICD needed these past two years." Under her leadership, the USAMRICD team made several significant contributions to medical chemical defense research. McQueen particularly mentioned the staff's research supporting the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a higher dosage naloxone autoinjector to protect Soldiers from synthetic opioids on the battlefield, the transition of the field chemical warfare agent diagnostic device ChemDx to the engineering and manufacturing phase of the acquisition process, and the recertification of USAMRICD's clinical laboratory, the only such laboratory within the Department of Defense "clinically certified to analyze human samples for the presence of chemical warfare agents," thereby ensuring, said McQueen, that "service members can receive appropriate diagnostic evaluation and lifelong care for chemical warfare agent exposure."
McQueen further described Neumeier as a "fearless leader" and a "breath of fresh air with a perfect mix of professionalism and humor."
"With her 29 years of Army experience, Robin came to ICD already armed with the leadership traits required for a successful assignment. Within the first year of her command, her initiatives transformed the organization," said McQueen. "After 2 years of challenges presented by COVID-19, the pandemic, Robin helped navigate the team to create new personnel, business and organizational processes."
He also commended her "passion for the institution, its mission and its people," and noted her efforts "to teach, mentor and train ICD soldiers, pushing them to grow professionally."
In welcoming Kassebaum, McQueen provided some impressive details of the new commander's career.
"He was the first Army Pharmacy Officer to be selected for battalion level of command, and he was also the first Pharmacy Officer in over a decade to be selected below the zone for the rank of colonel," said McQueen, explaining that Kassebaum was promoted to colonel a year earlier than his peers.
"Paul's a proven leader who brings value to every assignment," McQueen continued. "He has a history of leaving an organization in better shape than when he arrived, and I am confident that Paul will continue his track record of excellence as ICD's next commander."
Neumeier, who began her tour as commander of USAMRICD in July 2020, just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, recalled, "I took command in a building that was basically empty. "Over time I met most of everybody else and navigated the COVID storm with guidance and support from the amazing command suite."
"To the scientific and staff sections," continued Neumeier, "thank you for continuing to be innovative, dedicated and committed to making a difference for our warfighters and the nation. Each of you stepped up and remembered your why even during the pandemic. Where you might have been scared to come to work, you showed up, you did the science, you crushed your goals and kept pushing forward."
Neumeier welcomed Kassebaum to "the most amazing, resourceful, responsive and resilient team."
"I know from experience that if you take care of the people, the people will take care of the mission," Neumeier said. "I know you are the right person to shepherd MRICD's next chapter. I wish you and all here at MRICD continued success."
Kassebaum praised Neumeier for her leadership of USAMRICD through the pandemic.
"I can't imagine how hard [that] was," he said. "I feed off of your energy and plan to keep that momentum going and keep building upon it."
Addressing USAMRICD's staff, Kassebaum said, "I'm impressed with your history; I'm excited to become a part of this proud organization protecting the warfighters against chemical threats."
"There are definitely going to be challenges ahead," he continued, "but we're going to get through them by working together and being resilient to any setbacks."
Prior to assuming command of USAMRICD, Kassebaum served as chief of the Department of Pharmacy at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and pharmacy consultant for Regional Health Command Europe.
He earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Florida in 2003 and received a direct commission into the United States Army as a Pharmacy Officer (67E) in the Medical Service Corps.
His other assignments have included a tour at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he completed his pharmacy practice residency. Following the residency, he completed assignments of increasing complexity and responsibility within pharmacies at Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and Fort Knox, Kentucky. During his assignment to Fort Leonard Wood in 2009, he deployed with the 47th Combat Support Hospital to Mosul, Iraq, where he completed a 10-month tour as the Chief, Pharmacy Services. He earned board certification in pharmacotherapy in 2005.
He also served as an assignment officer at Human Resources Command and then Chief, Department of Pharmacy at the MAMC at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Kassebaum commanded the Fort Lee Medical Department Activity and Kenner Army Health Clinic from 2017-2019.
Kassebaum is a graduate of Captain's Career Course, Intermediate Level Education, Defense Strategy Course, and Army War College. He earned a Master's Degree in Pharmaceutical Policy and Outcomes from the University of Florida and Master's Degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (five oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Unit Citation (one oak leaf cluster), Superior Unit Award (two oak leaf clusters), Iraq Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon (numeral 2), Expert Field Medical Badge, Air Assault Badge, and German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Gold). He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.