As you might expect, security is a major priority when it comes to planning and facilitating operations for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). It’s a hot topic kept at the forefront of our everyday jobs as we work to keep our mission, research, and team secure.

John Moes, our security director, has been working on the ground floor of NBAF for about four years, creating security plans and supporting construction. John brings 26 years of experience serving in various security roles in the Air Force. He also spent time at U.S. Transportation Command, where he was responsible for protecting Department of Defense shipments across the world. His NBAF security team will have a mix of federal and contract employees who will be on the NBAF campus 24/7 maintaining operational security.

All our teams from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) continue to be extremely impressed with the support of our local community. The NBAF security team has been working with local and state law enforcement, fire department and medical responders throughout the construction process to coordinate our efforts in the event we need additional support. Orientations, briefings and site visits have taken place with police and fire personnel, and those discussions and collaborations will certainly continue in the future.

John and his security team also have been focused on building a culture of security with our USDA NBAF employees — making sure they’re aware of any security vulnerabilities and asking them to look out for the site and each other. Everyone who works at NBAF acts as a set of eyes and ears — a sensor for security. In addition to physical security, information security is also extremely important. NBAF security and IT teams are working together to ensure networks are secure and to train every user on his or her role in ensuring network and information security.

If employees can be another set of eyes and ears for NBAF, the community can too. We urge the public to remain vigilant to ensure everyone on the campus and the work being done stays safe and secure. If you think you have information now or after the facility opens related to the security of the NBAF campus, please contact local law enforcement.

Many have asked if the public will be able to visit NBAF. It will be a closed campus, and all visitors coming to NBAF must have official, scheduled business. The level of security complexity at NBAF is the same as it would be for any other national security asset in the U.S. Detection starts as far out on the campus perimeter as possible, and there are continuing checks as you get closer to the working parts of the laboratories.

For those interested in working at NBAF, all applicants will go through a background check similar to military, law enforcement or medical professionals. The objective is to ensure NBAF employees are reliable and trustworthy personnel. Please continue to be on the lookout for openings on USAJobs ( as new opportunities will be posted on a regular basis.

2020 is a big year for NBAF. DHS remains on budget and on schedule to complete construction by the end of the year. Our team has a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re excited to tackle it together!

Ken Burton, DVM, is National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) coordinator.

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