At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Captain Katie Nisbet commands the 722nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, a small but mighty unit that delivers a big bang in their work.
Her teams have recovered over 100 pieces of unexploded ordnance from Fort Bragg and the surrounding communities. In February, a civilian found a live grenade while magnet fishing on post and her team responded.
“I find a lot of joy in the work I do. I actually get to come to work every day truly loving my job,” Nisbet said.
She admires the talent and professionalism of her Soldiers, adding “I definitely feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.”
She enjoys the small size of her company, as she is able to get a lot more one-one-interaction with the 33 soldiers in her unit.
Due to the small size of her unit, Nisbet is able to take a personal approach to leading her teams. Nisbet often has the opportunity to serve as the duty officer and goes out on calls with ordnance teams.
The 722nd EOD Company is one of only two conventional airborne-capable EOD companies in the Army. While maintaining emergency response proficiency, the company also trains to support the 82nd Airborne Division and the Immediate Response Force mission.
Focusing on both missions is a balancing act, but Capt. Nisbet believes that building a climate of teamwork and positivity can lay the foundation for success.
“Respect is the cornerstone, along with integrity. Respect for yourself and for others is so important,” she explained.
Nisbet is one of only 28 company-grade officers and warrant officers across the Army’s three components that were selected this year for the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
Leadership challenges can be difficult to work through at times. It can help to have a sounding board and she has found that in her husband.
She met her husband Capt. Justin Holmes through the Reserve Officer Training Corps while attending Boston College and University of Arkansas. They were married in 2016.
“I can always count on him to tell me the hard truths,” she said.
Before taking command of the 722nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, Nisbet served as an aide-de-camp for Brig. Gen. William King. Before his recent retirement, King commanded the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive materials Command.
Nisbet had the opportunity to travel a lot in that position as the 20th CBRNE Command covered a geographically dispersed area over 16 states. She also traveled several times to South Korea and to Iraq while with the command. These experiences had a profound impact on her perspective and leadership style.
“The key to leadership comes down to commitment and genuinely caring for people and their well-being,” she said.
The recipients of the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Awards are normally presented by the chief of staff of the Army at the Pentagon in late May or early June. The ceremony was postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceremony is now scheduled to occur in October in Washington, D.C.