INDIAN HEAD, Md. — For years, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Department at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) has been known for both its subject matter and technical expertise. In order to continually deliver warfighters the level of support they have come to expect, the department has to be flexible with shifting requirements and changes in operational strategy. To meet these needs, the command recently unveiled its newest resource for the warfighter, the Battle Lab Division: a new concept of operations executed within the department to meet equipment needs.

The creation of the Battle Lab leverages the department’s expertise to conduct equipment assessments directly in support of warfighter capability gaps. The new division brings together two established groups in testing and evaluation and operational assessments in the Demonstration and Assessment Team (DAT), and Explosive Detection Equipment (EDE) Branch and creates the new EOD Technology Assessment (ETA) Branch.

“Given the significant increase in the private sector’s capability to deliver EOD relevant technology and the additional flexibility in defense acquisition authorities, the Navy and Joint Service EOD Technology Center are continuing to adapt to meet warfighter needs,” said NSWC IHD Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Correll. “The Battle Lab will support more rapid analysis to drop material solutions into various acquisition strategies in support of evolving requirements.”

The ETA Branch focuses on EOD and force protection capability gaps and is comprised of engineers, scientists, former EOD technicians, and project management specialists with experience in testing and evaluation of EOD and force protection equipment.

“There is a significant shift to purchase commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment along with the need to cut down the acquisition times,” said EOD Department Head Amanda Vehslage. “From our perspective, we have supported traditional programs but need to adapt to meet EOD needs. This new way of supporting EOD and force protection equipment will use our subject matter experts to provide objective reviews of this equipment.”

The Battle Lab conducts technical capabilities and limitations testing, assessments in operational environments, user feedback sessions, and market research to provide actionable data on equipment and technology. The mission is to provide a cycle of equipment review and evaluation to feed capability gap assessment, equipment buying decisions, requirements development, and technology implementation.

The division will provide continuous support and planned events to coincide with the various service acquisition timelines. Multiple evaluation efforts and user assessment events will be executed throughout the year, with the focus of those events being driven by the users’ stated needs and equipment refresh cycles.

While the Battle Lab addresses more than just the EOD mission, a strong emphasis will be placed upon filling existing EOD capability gaps and keeping pace with changing operational environments and a greater focus on near-peer threats.

“Since 9/11, there has been an enormous increase of industry-developed, commercially available items available for EOD use,” said Battle Lab Division Director Catherine Eaton. “The EOD community is turning to these COTS solutions to fill capability gaps due to the long acquisition timelines of traditional acquisition programs and science and technology. Government independent testing and evaluation is needed to ensure users have the equipment they require and understand the capabilities and limitations of that equipment.”

Eaton explained the Battle Lab will maintain close communication with EOD detachments and program offices to ensure their equipment needs are addressed in a timely manner, while also focusing on external growth within both the Department of Defense and industry.

“While the organization is aligned as a key support function for the joint EOD modernization program, the Battle Lab will also pursue other partnerships and sponsorships to ensure emerging capabilities and EOD needs across all four services are being addressed,” she said.

For more information on the Battle Lab, please visit