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The Col. Sydnor Memorial Award is presented to Caleb Anderson

February 12, 2018

By Paul Menser

When he was named to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Composite Adversary Team (CAT) in 2014, Caleb Anderson, a security police officer (SPO) at Idaho National Laboratory, said the biggest challenge he faced was learning to think like a bad guy.

Unlike conventional security forces, CAT members have a special mission to role-play as an adversary force during performance tests of protective forces and physical security systems. They are trained in tactics and techniques that replicate adversary capabilities to challenge DOE security measures at nuclear facilities. Using smoke, simulated chemical agents, simulated explosives, specialized equipment and weapons, and marksmanship techniques – no live ammunition – their job is to assail DOE buildings and create simulated havoc.

With a mission to challenge physical security systems and protective forces safeguarding nuclear weapons and materials, the program’s excellence has been recognized worldwide by the nuclear security community.

“It’s a lot of fun; an adrenaline rush,” said Anderson, 41, who on Jan. 11 received the Colonel Sydnor Award. The award is named after the late Col. Elliott P. Sydnor, who, after retiring from a distinguished military career, helped modernize the DOE Savannah River Site’s Protective Force in 1983. After that, he helped develop the CAT, which is composed of 30 SPOs from across the national laboratory complex.

The CAT have given leadership awards for 12 years and in 2014, specifically created the Sydnor Memorial Award. Of the four people who have received the Sydnor Award, three have come from INL. Anderson is the third INL SPO to have received the award.

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Idaho National Laboratory Security Police Officer Caleb Anderson, a member of DOE’s elite Composite Advisory Team, was recently awarded the Colonel Sydnor Award. It is named after Col. Elliott P. Sydnor, a highly distinguished member of the Armed Services, who helped develop the CAT for DOE.

“You ought to be very proud of the talent you have,” said Clay Messer, deputy director with the DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments (DOE-EA), who came to INL to present the award. Messer credited INL’s positive culture and belief in its security mission. “They truly believe in what they’re doing,” he said.

Some years the award isn’t given, Messer said. When it is, it goes to the CAT member who demonstrates the highest level of physical fitness and tactical proficiency, as well as qualities associated with superior character and leadership.

“I’m honored to be selected as part of the CAT team,” Anderson said. His service on the team is in addition to his regular duties at INL. “It’s a special brotherhood.”

INL Special Response Team Commander Kyle Jorgensen credited Anderson with being “very capable and adaptable,” but said he has a team of exceptional people who deserve whatever recognition comes their way. “They want to succeed and they want to exceed expectations.”

The other leadership award winners from INL were Kenny Baxter, David Tomchak, Steve Smith, Zane Green, and Syndor Award winners were Will Toone and Kris Peterson. CAT team members are nominated to that assignment for a term of at least two years. That way new people get the opportunity.

CAT mission requirements can include:

  • Role-playing as the adversary in force-on-force performance tests of DOE protective forces. This includes planning and executing tactical assaults against significant targets to achieve test objectives established by DOE-EA.
  • Role-playing in limited-scope and limited-notice performance tests to assess specific elements of a site’s protection system.
  • Testing the effectiveness of detection and assessment systems and delay barriers with deliberate attempts to penetrate or defeat them.

As the CAT’s mission is to support the performance testing portion of DOE-EA assessments, the CATs themselves are never asked or allowed to evaluate the performance of the site being assessed.

Sydnor died in 2014 at age 87. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role as ground commander in the November 1970 all-volunteer raid on the Son Tay prison in North Vietnam.




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About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted February 12, 2018

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