By Kevin Cresswell
“It doesn’t matter how smart, high-tech and critical to the mission an item is, if it’s contaminated, it’s out of play until the problem is resolved and you’ve conceded the advantage to the adversary…and by then it’s too late!” – Tim Meilander, Founder and CEO of M2DCON.
The Joint Force is committed to winning across all domains as warfighters continue to face a more complex battlespace. It is not just the threat posed by traditional chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons that is important, but also the flexibility and the ability to interpret accurate information and make rapid decisions at pace. It requires advanced digital and electronic equipment to operate in all environments and, if compromised in a CBRN attack, must maintain operability as rapidly as possible.
Today’s Joint Force faces next-generation nuclear attack submarines, high explosive rocket assisted projectiles, stealthy, supersonic, semi-autonomous sixth-gen fighters, robots controlled by AI, and new CBRN threats. These include not just traditional chemical warfare agents (CWAs) including low-persistence agents such as sarin, and high-persistence V-series agents such as VX. They also include a newer class of CWAs and Fourth Generation Agents (FGAs), compounds that bind to acetylcholinesterase receptor sites, leading to rapid muscle twitching, seizures, and potential death when inhaled, consumed, or exposed to skin.
These FGAs are persistent under certain environmental conditions and in some cases are considered more toxic than some traditional CWAs, requiring higher levels of scrutiny to remediate contaminated equipment and sites.
The use of asymmetric CBRN tactics and weaponry by rogue states or non-state actors and global pandemics regardless of origin, have indicated that we must prepare and respond to the full spectrum of chemical and biological threats, and rapidly. This includes the initial response, detection, mitigation, and returning personnel and equipment to the fight, thereby maintaining the momentum of Joint Force operations. This is of particular interest to M2DCON.
M2DCON is leading the way in responding to these challenges and has taken a proactive approach to ‘Threatcasting’. Since dealing with the 2001 Amerithrax scare, M2DCON has been known for the development, manufacturing, and distribution of products related to personnel safety in CBRN environments. The core of their business is the removal and/or decontamination of chemical and biological contaminants. Threatcasting guards against strategic surprise to this mission while allowing for the integration of new ideas and solutions around that framework.
Founder and CEO Tim Meilander explains that Threatcasting is “a method used to assist multidisciplinary groups like ours, to envision future scenarios which then provides a process that enables us to systematically plan against threats in the future. When a crisis occurs or an opportunity presents itself, we are better prepared. It is the strategic and manufacturing version of a red team exercise.”
M2DCON has a history of developing and winning U.S. Department of Defense acquisition awards. These programs included the Joint Service Equipment Wipe (JSEW), the Joint General Purpose Decontaminant, (GPD) and the Service Equipment Decontamination System (SEDS).
In addition to their proven technology, the company is now developing and releasing next-generation innovative sensitive equipment decontamination, CBRNe/Hazmat and Fire, collective protection products, sensor mesh systems, forensic collection interrogation and analysis solutions. M2DCON partners with government, academia, industry, and international allies in a concerted effort to push the boundaries of innovation.
“M2DCON engages in strategic business relationships for the collaborative development and sales of products related to our core technologies. We construct ‘teams’ to rapidly find solutions, and deliver the capabilities required for our warfighters to operate in any CBRN environment,” Meilander continues. “CBRNE Atlantic Bridge (CAB) is an example of where we brought like-minded manufacturers, vendors and academia together to form a Special Interest Group to enable information and technology sharing between industry in the US, Canada and UK and those governments.”
Utilizing this methodology, the company and its partners explore mitigating a set of threats in a continuous, multiple-step process with comprehensive inputs identifying potential visions of the future. To this end, the company often turns to history to learn lessons from the past.
The first known biological attack occurred in 1347, when Mongol forces launched plague-infested bodies from catapults over the walls into the Black Sea port of Caffa (now Feodosiya, Ukraine). Since then, there has been a developing CBRN problem. The COVID-19 pandemic not only exposed the vulnerability of supply chain security but also the critical importance and necessity for decontamination of specialist equipment.
While tactics change very little, the equipment used in delivery systems and munitions advanced from edged weapons to chemicals, and from bows and arrows to biological means. As military equipment advances, response and defensive capabilities change. The characters of and responses to war are driven by technological innovation and integration, but, as Meilander says, “it doesn’t matter how smart, high-tech and critical to the mission an item is, if it’s contaminated it’s out of play until the problem is resolved and you’ve conceded the advantage to the adversary…and by then it’s too late!”
Examples of where M2DCON are leading the way include:
- M2DCON Service Equipment Decontamination System (SEDS) solution that provides contamination mitigation capabilities for hardened, sensitive and/or critical equipment that have been exposed to chemical and biological contamination. It permits recovery of contaminated equipment thereby maximizing tactical flexibility and response.
- M2DCON Equipment Decontamination System (CEDS) that provides the capability to rapidly decontaminate chemical and biological agents in the field from critical operational equipment to a level that allows immediate re-use, minimizing the logistical burden and cost of conducting CWMD operations.
- M2DCON R2D2 – Robotics Decontamination provides a gaseous scalable decontamination system for automated decontamination.
- M2DCON has developed a deployable Forward Area Mobility Spray System providing man-portable, autonomous, or mobile platforms capable of rapidly decontaminating chemical and biological agents from vehicles and equipment.
As part of their Threatcasting, the M2DCON team are now studying Emerging Disruptive Technologies (EDTs). These are disparate technologies that are both emerging from the laboratory stage, are a step away from mass production, and pose challenges to the existing technological status quo. They include Additive Manufacturing, Autonomy, Bio-technologies, Space, Novel Materials, Robotics, Swarms/Semi-Autonomous Systems, and Synthetic biology.
“These are potentially very nasty. EDTs may accelerate conflict escalation and lower the bar for the use of WMDs, they may enhance the lethality of WMDs when used in tandem,” warns Meilander.
M2DCON is much more than a decontamination company. It reflects both a strategic focus on assisting commanders in Joint All Domain Operations and an operational focus on compatible and interoperable CBRN capabilities, with the ability to keep equipment in play to deny adversaries from gaining any advantage.
In addition to its government and defense work, M2DCON also serves the following industries: law enforcement, civilian security, first responder services, life sciences, health care, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. It is active in these global markets: United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Turkey.
If you would like to learn more about M2DCON and their solutions please contact: Contact: 6511 Eastland Road Suite 101, Brook Park, OH 44142, +1 216-306-0925 [email protected]
If you are actively involved in the CBRNE sector and are interested in conducting business across the pond in either direction, or you want to share information and experience to assist others, please consider joining the CBRNE ATLANTIC BRIDGE (CAB) Special Interest Group. Contact: [email protected]
Kevin Cresswell is a Los Angeles and London-based contributor.