Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Top Army brass visits Battelle


by Leif Nesheim

Sequim Gazette staff writer


Gen. Barry McCaffrey is a big fish in the political pond. As a leader in the field of national security and terrorism analysis, he toured Battelle’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim April 18, one of the few facilities in the nation that studies the coastal marine environment.


‘One of the great jokes around Washington (D.C.) is “you don’t know what you don’t know,” McCaffrey said.


Battelle scientists studying the coastal marine environment are answering the unknowns about potential maritime attacks, he said. The marine science laboratory, a Sequim fixture since the 1960s that currently employs 100 people, is at the forefront of counter-terrorism and national security as it applies 40 years of expertise to answer questions about potential maritime attacks, McCaffrey said.


“It’s not just the brain power and scientific tools, but it’s also a lifetime of experience,’ the general said, touting the lab’s cadre of experienced scientists and technicians.


McCaffrey noted it’s not just the 100 employed in Sequim that the laboratory has available to draw upon but the experience of thousands of their colleagues with the lab¹s regional headquarters in Richland and Battelle’s national headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.


Battelle is a global science and technology enterprise that develops and markets technology and manages laboratories around the world including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Although the Sequim facility only recently has begun applying its marine science expertise to homeland security issues -- such as using bio-sensors to detect subtle changes in the marine environment potentially caused by terrorist attacks on bridges, ports or other marine facilities -- it’s not a field unfamiliar to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said Mike Kluse, associate director of national security at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory headquarters in Richland.


“There’s a strong precedence monitoring nuclear waste at the Hanford Site (in Eastern Washington),” Kluse said. “Now we’re doing it here and applying marine sciences to Homeland Security.”


Understanding ocean processes and how different factors interact is the same for an oil spill or industrial effluent as it is for weapons of mass destruction, said Walt Pearson, associate director at the Sequim facility.


Last year the laboratory added the Coastal Security Institute to its 120-acre Sequim Bay facility, which is designed to use the lab’s unique maritime research toward the new goal of protecting coastal security.


The Sequim laboratory is expected to do about $15 million of business in 2005; of that, nearly $5 million is national security related, according to the laboratory¹s communications manager Staci Maloof. The facility in Sequim is currently expanding to handle the increased business and building a two-story office building to house 46 staff members. The next expansion phase is to renovate one of the buildings at the beach facility to hold more lab space for marine biotechnology and sensor development work, she said.


“McCaffrey’s visit is all part of getting to know us better,” said Don Bradley, director of the Coastal Security Institute.


McCaffrey said he plans to use his influence to encourage government funding for the Sequim facility to help it accomplish the kinds of studies needed for coastal security. The lab recently developed a prototype remote sensor that detects trace amounts of contaminants in surface waters and could be used to sense chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. It is currently studying contaminants in the marine environment around a Navy base in Alameda, Calif., to determine the type and effects of any contamination before the port can be deactivated and sold to the private sector.


McCaffrey is a consultant to Dr. Carl Kohrt, Battelle¹s president and chief executive officer in Columbus, Ohio. The retired four-star general runs his own consulting firm based in Arlington, Va., and is also professor of national security at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a terrorism analyst for television. McCaffrey is a former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command coordinating national security operations in Latin America and was the most highly decorated and youngest four-star general in the U.S. Army when he retired.


McCaffrey served as the assistant to Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and supported Powell as an adviser to the Secretary of state and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.