Interview with Mr. Michael Bailey, Director of DEVCOM CBC 


By CBNW Magazine

The Director of the U.S. Army Development Command’s Chemical Biological Center Mr. Michael Bailey discusses the Center’s main activities, priorities, challenges, and more.

Could you describe the main activities and current priorities of DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center (CBC)? 

We are focused on the creation of new and effective chemical biological defense solutions. This is done through our research, development, and engineering, as well as testing, training, and field operations. Our priority areas and unique competencies include threat agent science and toxicology, CBRNe protection and assessment, biotechnology and biological sciences, and CB agent destruction, disposal, and mitigation operations.

Can you tell us a bit about what CBC does in terms of bridging the gap between science and its real-world/battlefield applications? 

The Center is working collaboratively with our partners to develop, integrate, and advance many of the unique technologies on the battlefield to help bridge the gap. The research and development we do at CBC enables commanders and warfighters on the battlefield to make informed decisions in response to CBRN threats. The capabilities we develop in the labs create situational understanding of CBRN real-world environments and allow tactical commanders to make informed decisions. We offer advanced CBRN training for commanders to allow units to apply technical and operational knowledge that enables more effective hazard responses.   

Has the war in Ukraine impacted the CBC’s mission and activities? Do you think the war will affect the future priorities of the CBRNe sector and if so, how? 

Anytime we see a global conflict, it certainly can impact our priorities and we need to be prepared for that. We take pride in the Center’s efforts to ensure our systems are interoperable, capable, and dynamic for any situation and incorporate mission-specific training and support that encompasses the full spectrum of CBRNe battlespace. CBC is dedicated to helping the Army transform into a multi-domain force and support the Nation’s defense technology needs through focusing on priority research areas and adjusting as new threats develop.

DEVCOM CBC’s headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, USA, hosted NCT USA 2023 © NCT Consultants

What are the biggest challenges ahead of CBC, and what are the new trends in chemical and biological research and development? 

Probably the greatest challenge for CBC centers on the complexity of emerging chemical and biological threats. The research and development we do here is critical to ensure we are prepared for whatever may be on the horizon. One of the newer trends is the increased use of robotics and autonomous systems.  

At NCT USA 2023 we showcased our autonomous decontamination prototype, a collaborative effort with other organizations that reduces the time, logistics, and personnel required to conduct contamination mitigation of CBRN hazards. We also see a trend in biomanufacturing processes that we are dedicated to enhancing.  

The recent pandemic taught us that we must invest in synthetic biology to create new high-value materials and bolster supply chain resilience. We must continue to use our Center expertise and institutional knowledge to tackle known and emerging threats.

How does CBC’s partnership with industry, academia, and other government agencies work in practice? Could you give us examples of cooperation?  

CBC has a number of collaboration and cooperation processes that we employ to achieve success. We have more than 13 types of partnership mechanisms that include research and support agreements, educational partnership agreements (EPA), material transfer, and others. The autonomous decontamination effort is a great example of cooperation.  

We worked with several government agencies and industry to prototype, experiment, and demonstrate the initial proof of concept. We are also deeply involved in continuing cooperation with academia. Just recently we signed an EPA with Johns Hopkins University that allows CBC personnel to teach science courses or to assist in developing science courses and materials for the university. All of our partnerships and collaboration efforts are critical to ensure success.

The ninth edition of NCT USA took place at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Edgewood (MD) on September 5-7, and was co-sponsored by DEVCOM CBC. What, in your opinion, was the highlight of NCT USA and why? 

That’s a hard one as we had so many great opportunities for engagement and knowledge-sharing at NCT USA 2023 and there were a lot of highlights. I always enjoy seeing the expo and discussing next generation capabilities as well as the innovative ideas that come out during the Dragons Pitch. This year’s NCT PRO eXperience was very impressive as civil and military first responders were engaged in multiple real-world CBRNe, counter-improvised explosive devices, explosive ordnance disposal, and demining training scenarios. It is always inspiring to see that level of collaboration and teamwork in that setting.

The Dragons Pitch is an opportunity for companies to present their innovative ideas for a stronger CBRNe defense to key stakeholders © NCT Consultants

Your colleague at DEVCOM CBC Dr. Kyle Glover, Acting Division Chief for Threat Agent Science, spoke at NCT USA on “Detecting Threats and Adapting Response Capabilities”. Looking back at discussions at NCT USA, what do you believe are currently the most pressing CBRNe threats worldwide and how must the global CBRNe industry adapt to be able to respond to them? 

I mentioned earlier about the challenges related to countering new and emerging CBRNe threats. I believe it is important to continue to look for innovative solutions and be adaptable to address ever-changing requirements and remain steps ahead of adversaries. I would encourage the global CBRNe industry to communicate and collaborate as much as possible and focus on our people within that make these adaptive response capabilities possible. We have highly skilled scientists, technicians, and engineers who work together to combat some of the world’s most dire chemical and biological challenges and it’s only possible through confidence in our people.

About Mr. Michael Bailey:

Mr. Michael A. Bailey entered his role as the Director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) in May 2023. In this role, Mr. Bailey oversees many of the nation’s key chemical and biological defense research and engineering programs, both classified and unclassified. Mr. Bailey also builds partnerships across the DoD, other government agencies, industry, and academia to enhance warfighter readiness and response to chemical and biological threats. 

He entered the Senior Executive Service in August 2021 as the Director of Engineering at DEVCOM CBC. In this role, he oversaw a staff of roughly 500 engineers, scientists, logisticians, and other highly skilled professionals who work to design, build, test, and sustain CBRN capabilities for joint warfighters and our partners. 

Before his assignments at DEVCOM CBC, Mr. Bailey was the Deputy Joint Project Manager for CBRN Sensors at the Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense. Mr. Bailey served as a strategic planner for the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group. He played a critical role in helping the Army’s senior leaders understand global urbanization trends and what they mean for future force structure and capability requirements. 

Mr. Bailey has performed at many levels in the Army’s Research and Development enterprise, including over ten years as a laboratory scientist working on vaccines against biological warfare agents. Mr. Bailey received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Science degree in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University. Mr. Bailey was also selected to attend the Eisenhower School at National Defense University, where he received a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy. 

Mr. Bailey holds certifications from the Defense Acquisition University in Program Management Level 3 and Science and Technology Management Level 3. His awards include two Superior Civilian Service Awards and a Commanders Award for Civilian Service.

Mr. Michael Bailey and Director of NCT Consultants, Mr. Ilja Bonsen, at NCT USA 2023 © NCT Consultants

This interview was conducted by CBNW Magazine Editor, Patrick Norén.

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