The Richmond Register

July 12, 2012

New chemical activity commander installed at depot


By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

Lt. Col. Christopher Grice was presented the unit flag during a Wednesday morning ceremony symbolizing his taking charge of the Blue Grass Army Depot’s Chemical Activity from Lt. Col. Steven Basso.

The chemical activity, under a separate command from the depot itself, routinely gets a new chief every two years.

“There is nothing easy about the mission that Congress has assigned the Army’s Chemical Material Agency,” Basso said.

But, if he had been able to choose his successor, it would be Grice, Basso said.

The two men first met when they were both lieutenants in the same battalion early in their careers at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Basso has set a high standard for his successor, said Don Barclay, acting director of the chemical materials agency, who presided over the change of command.

A two-year review by the inspector general found no deficiencies at the chemical activity, a rare occurrence, Barclay said.

In addition to improving efficiency and synchronization, Basso had overseen construction of new buildings at the activity responsible for the safety and security of weapons that contain at total of 523 tons of lethal chemical agents.

Under an international treaty, the chemical weapons are slated for destruction by a facility being built on the depot.

Basso and his family are moving to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he will begin a teaching assignment at the Army’s General Command and Staff College.

Grice, a veteran of the Iraq War, comes to the depot from the Pentagon, where he was counter proliferation branch chief for the Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Division.

He grew up in Galesburg, Ill., and graduated with military honors from Southern Illinois University. He also earned a master’s degree in environmental management from Webster University in St. Louis.

The new commander said he has been impressed by the professionalism of the chemical activity staff since arriving at the depot and assured the community that his unit will continue to protect the stockpile, the community and the environment as it has under Basso.

In addition to Iraq, Grice has served overseas in Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and Germany.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@

or at 624-6622.