Interview with Dr. Eric L. Moore, Director, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center, USA


Could you describe the Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Chemical Biological Center’s (CBC) main activities?

DEVCOM CBC’s mission is to provide innovative chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) defense capabilities to enable the Joint Warfighters’ dominance on the battlefield, and interagency defense of the homeland. To accomplish its mission, the Center conducts research, development, and testing focused on threat agent science, CBRNE protection, CBRNE assessment, biological sciences, and biotechnology. The Center’s technical expertise touches every phase of the acquisition lifecycle from basic and applied research, to concept and product development, chemical biological surety and non-surety product testing, system development and engineering, all the way through to production and sustainment of CBRNE items.

The Center also applies its expert knowledge gained through these research, development, test, and engineering activities to support demilitarization and disposal of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile and found munitions worldwide. To sustain and maintain its world class infrastructure, CBC must use its expertise in chemical biological operations, and real-world applications. Major competencies in this area include live agent handling and surety, environmental analytical testing and validation services, deployable mobile lab services and chemical munitions field operations, field remediation and demilitarization operations.

How does the Center cooperate with other Chem-Bio defense organizations such as JPEO CBRND and DTRA?

DEVCOM CBC, as the key technical enabler of the U.S. chemical biological defense enterprise, partners extensively with both Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Joint Science and Technology Office (JSTO), supporting their respective non-medical research and advanced development portfolios. CBC is unique in its ability to utilize expertise and chemical biological infrastructure to support research, development, testing, and sustainment of warfighter capabilities.

DTRA JSTO directs and manages the Chemical Biological Defense Program (CBDP) science and technology (S&T) programs from basic through applied research. CBC serves as a technical arm to lead and support new research initiatives and numerous programs of record. JPEO-CBRND executes advanced development programs of record in support of the CBDP. In support of advanced development efforts, CBC provides over 150 matrixed acquisition certified personnel directly to the JPEO-CBRND.

What are the biggest challenges ahead of us in CB warfare? What are the new frontiers of Chemical and Biological research and development?

The global environment continues to evolve toward increasing levels of complexity and while CBC’s traditional mission remains unchanged, we must be prepared to counter an expanding threat landscape. The convergence of technologies and scientific advancements – in fields such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, combinatorial chemistry, synthetic biology, and advanced manufacturing – is enabling acceleration of new and complex threats in an already dynamic CBRN threat landscape. Global communications networks and supply chains encourage the proliferation of these convergent technologies, and the decreasing cost of these technologies means that even non-state adversaries could potentially use them.

In order to address these challenges and stay at the forefront of chemical and biological research and development, CBC is continuing to expand on its expertise in material science, synthetic biology, and additive manufacturing as well as leveraging its partnerships with industry, academia, other government agencies, and allies. The Center is currently exploring new frontiers in two key initiatives in machine learning/artificial intelligence and bio-manufacturing.

In addition to emerging threats, the evolution of how the services will fight and win in a future joint all-domain operations construct is challenging the Center to think differently. CBC is executing several innovation programs aimed at identifying new approaches for developing and delivering capabilities. The Center is involving warfighters up-front and continuously throughout the design process, forming multi-disciplinary teams-of-teams and working with doctrinal concept developers to develop the right capabilities to be delivered at the right time.

Dr. Eric Moore at NCT USA 2019

How did COVID-19 impact CBC’s mission and activities? Has it changed the Center’s research objectives? How did the center contribute to the war against the virus?

Our research objectives have not changed, because CBC’s mission to protect the Nation and its citizens from CBRN threats is highly applicable to COVID-19 response efforts. While nobody knew that COVID-19 specifically was going to happen, our experts have been researching the implications of biological pandemic events for decades. Our scientists and engineers served as experts on personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination, and additive manufacturing to support the COVID-19 pandemic efforts.

The pandemic spurred the need for rapid chemical and biological expertise and capabilities. Our expertise made us well poised to support the Nation with a variety of COVID-19 response efforts such collecting PPE, researching various types of diagnostic testing, conducting additive manufacturing and fabrication of products to support supply chain issues, supporting the development and training of mobile medical labs, performing filter material evaluation, and researching surface decontamination methods.

Do you think that the pandemic will have an impact on the general public’s perception of biological threats? And in general, of the CBRN sector?

I think that the pandemic showed us that biological events are not just the ideas of science fiction. It is something that we need to be prepared for. If you wait for something to happen before you prepare, you are already too late.

Luckily, the public’s awareness of incidents like this has increased. I think that we can expect to see a population newly aware of its vulnerability to infectious disease. This public awareness could potentially create new markets for chemical biological defense products – like PPE for example – from consumers wanting to take greater control over their safety. A few other areas where we can see impacts to the general public are increased demand for individual protection and decontamination equipment, an interest in national bio-manufacturing and stockpiling, increased use of drones and autonomous logistics, and more widespread use of bio-surveillance, home diagnostics and telehealth/telemedicine.

How does CBC cooperate with industry? What opportunities does the Center offer to the private sector?

CBC’s vision is to be the U.S. Army’s scientific and technological foundation of future force modernization through world-leading research, development, engineering and analysis. We want to strategically partner with industry, academia and other government agencies to enable perpetual modernization. We expand and enhance our capabilities through working with organizations that can supplement our projects or whose projects we could supplement. Building relationships with a diverse set of partners offers different synergistic capabilities and helps us achieve game-changing innovations.

CBC, as a federal laboratory, has a number of mechanisms available to collaborate with industry, academia and other government agencies through its technology transfer program. Federal laboratories have extensive technical capabilities, Research Development Testing & Evaluation facilities, and data that industry may choose to leverage in their proposals. If industry wishes to collaborate with federal labs, they are free to do so to the extent they are willing to fund the effort, negotiate acceptable terms and conditions and are willing to accept the performance risks.

CBC currently cooperates with industry through joint research and development efforts, equipment and facility access and testing availability to help achieve either partner’s goals. Additionally, CBC (and other federal laboratories) has intellectual property available for licensing to achieve dual use for the benefit of the public while aiding with economic development.

Dr. Eric Moore at NCT USA 2019

Who are CBC’s main international partners? How important is international cooperation for you?

The CBC International Program is very important as we are committed to ensuring U.S. Warfighters have access to the world’s best technologies and that they are interoperable with our closest partners and allies. The program is committed to building and maintaining international partnerships and providing science and technology support to the Army, the Chemical Biological Defense Program, and the joint warfighter to meet their technology challenges.

The CBC International Program is broad in scope as we have engagements with 19 countries through 37 international data/information exchange annexes, project agreements and other mechanisms. These engagements allow us to maintain awareness of and ultimately leverage defense capabilities developed outside for the U.S. and access these capabilities. Our program includes an active engineer and scientist exchange program on a select basis with our partner nations.

Would you like to add any final comments?

Yes. While COVID-19 has hurt us in so many ways – from losing loved ones to damaging the global economy – it has also encouraged unprecedented, accelerated innovation. We’ve seen it with how fast the pharmaceutical companies were able to create a vaccine, the development of rapid tests and at-home test kits, and even distilleries producing hand sanitizer. I hope that the DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center can be a potential partner for government, industry, and academia to continue to create groundbreaking solutions that can address a series of both seen and unseen challenges.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss CBC and its mission.

About the Author

On October 29th, 2017, Dr. Eric Moore began serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Chemical Biological Center, the only chemical and biological defense technology center of its kind. Dr. Moore is a member of the Senior Executive Service and is an expert in chemical and biological defense and medical countermeasures.

Prior to his position at DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center, Dr. Moore served in various roles at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) from 2007 through 2016, including Chief of the Advanced and Emerging Threat Division, Chief of the Basic and Supporting Sciences Division and Senior Science and Technology Manager for Chemical Medical Countermeasures.

Related articles

Recent articles