Redstone's role grows in explosive research
June 27, 2012
By Kari Hawkins
One of the nation's most valuable tools in defending against improvised explosives devices will soon have a Redstone Arsenal address as building 4940 on Fowler Road.
The Terrorist Explosives Devices Analytical Center, established and operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be an Arsenal tenant in late 2014. A groundbreaking ceremony announcing the new facility was held Monday on Fowler Road, which parallels Martin Road to its south. Sen. Richard Shelby as well as FBI director Robert Mueller and the center's chief, Jorge Garcia, were in attendance along with Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle and other city leaders, and Redstone Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton and other members of Team Redstone.
"This will be a truly multi-agency collaborative center," Garcia told media following the groundbreaking. "A lot of people think it is the FBI's TEDAC. But it is the U.S. government's TEDAC. With this new facility, we are shifting away from an FBI-labeled building to a building that is multi-agency in its presentation. We want to integrate our partner agencies not only in the work we do but also in the leadership of TEDAC."
The center was established in 2003 at the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Va. It was created to recover and seize improvised explosive devices and related materials from the Department of Defense for forensic and technical analysis in support of the ongoing war on terrorism and combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to 2003, no federal agency was responsible for analyzing and exploiting intelligence related to terrorist IEDs, Mueller said.
"Today, TEDAC coordinates the efforts of our entire government, from law enforcement to intelligence to the military, to gather and share intelligence about these explosives," Mueller said. "Given the ever-shifting nature of the IED threat, working together and sharing information is not just the best option, it is the only option. One tiny scrap of information can break a case or save lives."
Shelby, along with other members of the state's U.S. congressional delegation, has worked to bring TEDAC to Redstone Arsenal.
"This is going to help us make Americans more secure and make our Soldiers safer around the world," the senator told those in attendance.
When asked by media about funding, Shelby said "we fight over resources, we struggle over resources and missions. Redstone Arsenal is a safe area to do a lot of research and to continue the mission to combat terrorism."
Since 2003, TEDAC employees have examined more than 80,000 IEDs and fragments from IEDs.
"By using forensic techniques and examinations to analyze IED components, scientists and engineers have made dozens of forensic matches and connections between seemingly unrelated IEDs," Mueller said. "These connections have supplied valuable information to our agents, our analysts, and our war fighters on the front lines. TEDAC's work has resulted in actionable intelligence and progress in the fight against increasingly sophisticated and deadly explosives."
Its employees work side-by-side with representatives of the following 11 agencies: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Defense Combined Explosives Exploitation Cells; Biometrics Task Force; Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization; National Ground Intelligence Center; the Army Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the Army Asymmetric Warfare Office; the National Security Agency; the Central Intelligence Agency; and Counter Terrorism Command, London Metropolitan Police Service. It analyzes IEDs and IED fragments from 23 nations besides Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our submissions are growing by the month," Garcia said. "The work we do helps us to learn about the current threat worldwide, and assess and deter that threat, as well as help us to assess future threats.
"The center will provide greater opportunities to integrate even more with industry partners. This center will allow us to expand our presence significantly."
Nearly all IEDs pass through TEDAC, allowing its technicians, examiners, scientists and intelligence analysts to "see the full spectrum of devices, and to recognize trends in their construction and components. This, in turn, helps us to disarm or disrupt these devices, to link IEDs to their makers and, most importantly, to prevent future attacks," Mueller said.
The new facility at Redstone will provide greater efficiencies in the analysis of IEDs. Redstone is also home to the FBI's Hazardous Devices School and the ATF's National Center for Explosives Training and Research, and it is expected that the co-location of the three organizations will allow for the creation of collaborative partnerships, and will strengthen the government-wide approach to countering IEDs and other explosive devices, Mueller said.
The Arsenal facility will provide processing and examination capabilities in the key
forensic disciplines of latent fingerprints, trace evidence, DNA, tool marks and chemistry. The facility will also support technical exploitation -- circuit board analysis, reverse engineering, and radio frequency characterization -- of IEDs and related devices. Most importantly, the new
laboratory building will facilitate the exchange of personnel among the TEDAC partner agencies, further strengthening TEDAC's interagency role and mission. The center will offer a unique capability that will serve the needs of the military, intelligence and homeland security communities in their efforts to combat terrorist use of explosives.
"Today, we start a new chapter in the book about Redstone Arsenal," Team Redstone's Collyar said. "In 1941, this Arsenal was established for the production of chemicals and munitions used in World War II. It has truly become a hub of technical skills for many, many agencies."
Mueller said Redstone was a good fit for TEDAC's capabilities.
"Here at Redstone, American ingenuity developed the missiles that helped us
win the Cold War, and the rockets that took our astronauts into space, and
eventually, to the moon," he said.
"Today, American ingenuity at Redstone continues to play a vital role in
defending our nation. With the construction of this laboratory, TEDAC soon
will add its own contributions to this proud legacy."