As the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) concludes its 100th anniversary, the Center looks to the future and its evolving role in protecting the United States and its allies from chemical and biological threats.
Throughout the year, ECBC held a number of events to celebrate its 100th anniversary, including opening a visitors’ center and hosting a golf tournament, a 5K run, an academic lecture series, and a centennial ceremony. Through these events, ECBC employees, members of the Aberdeen Proving Ground family, and the outside community learned about ECBC’s past and its continuing contributions to Army readiness.
“Reflecting on our organization’s 100th anniversary has been rewarding and valuable, and I want to thank everyone who has been involved in celebrating our century of success,” said ECBC’s director, Eric Moore, Ph.D. “It’s been humbling to look back at how far we’ve come, and I’m looking forward to leading ECBC as we begin the next 100 years.”
First known as Edgewood Arsenal, ECBC was founded in 1917 as the U.S. entered World War I. Its mission during the two world wars was to produce chemical weapons and defenses as the U.S. faced new threats. After World War II, ECBC’s mission evolved in response to the changing world order. The Soviet Union emerged as a world superpower, bringing with it increased threats of chemical and biological weapons, and ECBC led the U.S. efforts to counter and protect against those threats.
As the U.S. unilaterally discontinued its biological weapons program in 1969 and signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, ECBC’s mission shifted from biological and chemical weapons production to focus on the destruction of and protection from such threats. This mission is exemplified by the 2014 mission that destroyed the 600 metric tons of Syria’s declared chemical warfare material at sea in international waters. As the Center looks toward its next 100 years, this legacy continues.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes in technologies and doctrine over the past century, but one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s our purpose: To ensure operational readiness by protecting the warfighter from chemical and biological threats,” Moore said. “The United States and its allies face unpredictable, unprecedented threats in the future: terrorist and non-state actors, violent extremism, urban operations, natural disasters. The only way to stay ahead of the threat is through innovation: anticipating what’s next and creating methods and products that will ensure that our warfighters show up to the fight prepared and are able to combat threats.”
Michael Abaie, ECBC’s director of engineering, said improved optimization and readiness will ensure that ECBC continues to deliver the chemical biological capabilities that have earned it the reputation as a world leader.
“Improving the capability of our warfighter must remain our top priority,” Abaie said. “We’re well equipped to address the needs of the warfighter, but we can’t afford to be complacent. We must continue to lean forward, stay on the cutting edge of capability, be proactive and agile, optimize our processes, maintain our technical superiority, and never forget who we’re working for.”
ECBC’s world-class capabilities, Moore noted, arise from its world-class workforce of scientists, engineers, and support personnel.
“The depth and breadth of knowledge at ECBC are critical to enhancing our defensive capabilities; from the protective gear worn by our forward-deployed Soldiers to the sensors feeding data to the command post, where intricate threat assessment tools are used to make major strategic battlefield decisions,” Moore said of the ECBC workforce. “Their expertise is critical in fulfilling our common purpose of ensuring operational readiness by protecting the warfighter from chemical and biological threats.”
Frederic Berg, Ph.D., ECBC’s acting director of research and technology, said that continued investment in ECBC’s workforce is vital to the Center’s success.
“As the landscape of chemical and biological weaponry continues to evolve, it is vital we continue to challenge our workforce to be one step ahead of our adversaries,” Berg said. “Enabling our workforce to protect our warfighter starts on the home front, and equipping our workforce with the right intellectual and technical tools further advances our mission.”
As it seeks to further develop its capabilities from within, ECBC will also seek new ways to foster collaboration and innovation—not only with colleagues across the U.S. government, but also with partners in private industry, academia, and other nations.
“By expanding partnerships with private industry, academia, and foreign governments, we diversify and strengthen the knowledge base informing our research and development,” said Paul Tanenbaum, Ph.D., ECBC’s director of program integration. “We will continue to use the tools at our disposal, such as our technology transfer program, to actively seek partnerships. And luckily, we really don’t have to do it all ourselves. By coupling our own world-class capabilities with the deep scientific knowledge of academia, the entrepreneurial spirit of private industry, and the carefully coordinated efforts of our international partners, we will produce ever-greater results for the warfighter and our nation.”
More information on ECBC 100th anniversary events can be found at: https://www.ecbc.army.mil/100/
Over the last 100 years the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center has been at the forefront of protecting our Warfighters and our Nation. In celebration of this we will we looking back throughout our history for interesting and captivating stories to share with the Nation.
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ECBC is a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command laboratory and is the U.S. Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. ECBC has achieved major technological advances for the warfighter and for our national defense, with a long and distinguished history of providing the Armed Forces with quality systems and outstanding customer service. References to commercial products or entities in this article does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army of the products or services offered.