May 23, 2008
Many of the world's best explosives scientists are located at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. Over 75% of explosives commonly used by the U.S. military have been developed there, including the BLU118/B, termed the "thermobaric" bomb by the Pentagon. It was specifically created to defeat the Talibans’ hideouts in the mountains of Afghanistan. About a hundred scientists and engineers were involved in the successful two-month development of this weapon. The lecture will focus on naval explosives development and weapon transition, and will highlight several efforts in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the BLU-118/B effort.
Anh N. Duong came to the United States as a refugee of war after the fall of South Viet Nam in 1975. She graduated Cum Laude in Chemical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Maryland and earned a M.S. in Public Administration with Honors from the American University. Because of her background, Mrs. Duong feels deeply indebted to the American troops for her freedom and safety. She wanted to work for U.S defense in order to serve our troops and has spent her entire career working in Naval Science and Technology. Mrs. Duong is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in explosives. She directed all U.S. Navy explosives research and development and had successfully put 10 new explosives into 18 different U.S. weapons in the 1990’s. Her unrivaled record in this field was cited in her receipt of the Dr. Arthur Bisson Award for Naval Technology Achievement by the Chief of Naval Research in 2000. Mrs. Duong is most well known for her thermobaric weapon created to defeat tunnels and bunkers used as terrorist hideouts, in order to spare U.S. troops from the dangerous task of clearing them out in foot. In only 67 days, her team of nearly one hundred scientists, engineers and technicians successfully went from concept through fielding of the U.S. first thermobaric bomb for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. This earned Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) at Indian Head, where she worked, a Meritorious Unit Commendation by the Secretary of the Navy and her team the Roger Smith Team Award, while Mrs. Duong received the Civilian Meritorious Medal. She then led her team through a follow-on effort, the Thermobaric Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), which won the 2005 ACTD Of–The-Year Award by the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense. Prior to her Pentagon assignment, Mrs. Duong was NSWC Indian Head’s Director of Science and Technology. She currently serves as Science Advisor to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy, and the Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. With a special focus on the Global War on Terrorism, Mrs. Duong is transforming science and technology into anti-terrorism and force protection capabilities. One example is her team’s creation and deployment of Forensic Facilities for U.S. Army and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mrs. Duong’s leadership and compassion are well recognized. She received the 2004 U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Award of Excellence for Public Service, and has been featured on newspapers, magazines, national and international radio and television networks. She is keynote speaker at national conferences on topics such as Leadership, Diversity and Leading Change. Mrs. Duong appeared in the Sundance Festival award-winning documentary film “Why We Fight”, discussing her perspective on wars, and was featured in the book Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers, by the American Society of Civil Engineers. She was saluted by the Naval Sea Systems Command during Women’s History Month in March 2006 and featured in a Discovery and Military Channel’s documentary series as one of the masterminds behind the world’s “Future Weapons”. In 2007, Mrs. Duong received the Service to America Medal for National Security by the Partnership for Public Service, presented to her by the Secretary of the Navy. Most recently, she was honored by the Department of Homeland Security with the Outstanding American Citizen By Choice Award in January 2008.