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Brigadier Genera (Ret.) Dean R. Ertwine: The One Who Stayed

October 2013
Military Assignments
Field Artillery, Company-Grade Positions,
Neu Ulm, Germany

Gunnery Instructor and Battery Commander,
Fort Sill, Okla.

Director of Materiel Testing, Dugway Proving Ground, Utah

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

Commander of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center at Fort Greely, Alaska

Assistant Division Chemical Officer, Deputy G3, and Secretary of the General Staff, 9th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Commander of the Fire Support Armaments Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition at the Pentagon

Deputy Commanding General for Systems Acquisition at the Communications and Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Commanding General of the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.








Born and raised in Ringtown, Pa., a small borough about five miles northwest of Shenandoah, Dean Ertwine recalls an early memory of Aberdeen Proving Ground. “As a youngster, I would visit my cousins who lived on the Proving Ground. My Uncle Fred took us to see a firepower demonstration at the Aberdeen Test Center, and I distinctly remember the impressive firing of the “atomic cannon.”

A possible lasting impression and with additional military exposure from a father, grandfather and several uncles who also served, Ertwine entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1972. “It was at my mother’s prodding and urging that if I was leaning toward the military, look at the prospect of a free education where you actually got paid. Once I got there, however, and got indoctrinated, I was all Army.”

Ertwine was commissioned in the Field Artillery when he graduated from West Point, but he would later earn a master‚Äôs and doctorate degree in chemistry from Lehigh University, eventually teaching the subject back at West Point. Why that specialization? “The Army said, ‘We would like you to teach chemistry,’ so I learned chemistry. I guess my grades were good enough,” Ertwine says with a smile.

While he admits he never expected to stay beyond his required five years of service, he says he is grateful for the friendships and the unique experiences service in the military can provide. “Timing precluded me from experiencing major deployments in my military career, but my assignments gave me and my family opportunities to see some amazing places.” Back-to-back orders early in his military career took him from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to Fort Greely in Alaska. “To see the beauty and extreme physical environments going from Utah to Alaska was incredible. My family and I tried to appreciate the unique offerings wherever we were stationed.”

Five assignments in Army Materiel Command and three senior command tours gave Ertwine extensive exposure to the Aberdeen post and community. “After entering the Army, and because I was familiar with the Post, APG was always high on my assignment preference request, but that did not happen until the very last assignment of my 30-plus-year career when I came from Fort Monmouth in 1999 to command the Army Test and Evaluation Command, which later became the Developmental Test Command. My family quickly grew attached to the quality of life on the upper Chesapeake, and as retirement from the Army approached, it was an easy decision to stay right here.”


When he decided to leave the Army, Ertwine knew he wasn’t ready to retire. Acknowledging that some people at this point in their life will consider drastically changing careers, Ertwine was happy to stay the course. He was offered a position with Battelle in 2002 as defense communities were gearing up for BRAC 2005. As Vice President for the Army Sector, Ertwine is responsible for Battelle’s Army customer relations and business development. “I relished the opportunity to stay involved in Army affairs, understand where the Army is going, and maintain relationships with Army leaders. It was perfect.”

Boards & Committees
Director, Aberdeen Army
Alliance Board

Maryland Military Installation Council

Director, University Center Board

Director, Chesapeake Support
Our Heroes Board

Greater Baltimore Committee

Greater Harford Committee

Harford STEM Summit Participant

Past Army Science Board Member

Past Chair, National Defense Industrial Association,
CBRN Division

According to its website, “Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 22,000 employees at more than 130 locations globally. A 501(c)(3) charitable trust, Battelle was founded on industrialist Gordon Battelle’s vision that business and scientific interests can go hand-in-hand as forces for positive change.” While headquartered since its founding in Columbus. Ohio, their Aberdeen location on Technology Drive is their other major technology center.

“As it turned out, Battelle was the right choice for me,” says Ertwine. “The company has been in business 82 years, with Gordon Battelle’s will as our charter. From what was essentially a specialty metals shop in the 1930s, it has grown to a $6 billion enterprise.” Battelle conducts innovative research, manages national laboratories, and supports educational initiatives across the country. Its unique non-profit structure includes a required contribution of 20 percent of profits each year to the communities where they are located. Because of its scientific founding, Battelle is a leading advocate of STEM-related initiatives.

“Some of the STEM initiatives we support locally include the Aberdeen High School’s Science and Math Academy, two STEM scholarships at Harford Community College, STEM projects at the Highlands School, the John Carroll High School, the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County, the “Y” of Bel Air, and a Habitat for Humanity home designed and built by Harford Technical High School students.”

As part of his job at Battelle, Ertwine is the lead for Army business development and as such must stay engaged in Army issues and activities and represent Battelle in the community. He is active on numerous boards and committees and a frequent resource to local leaders making connections.

“Battelle has so many moving parts and is constantly evolving in response to client requirements and a changing business environment. Consequently I have found this second career to be mostly satisfying, occasionally frustrating, but always interesting and challenging,” Ertwine says.

Challenging may be an understatement in the DoD environment of late. “Our most significant current challenge is coping with the defense budget downturn and the uncertainties of sequestration. Yet even in the current environment, our clients still have important defense work to accomplish. We strive to understand and support their efforts, and continue to make prudent investments in technologies and staff to continue to deliver needed support.”

“Dean is a consummate advocate for the US Army, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and its tenant organizations. His leadership, commitment, and support to the local community is also commendable, specifically his support to the local Harford County School System as well as outreach efforts in support of wounded soldiers and their families.”
-Gary Martin, Deputy to the Commander at Communications Electronics Command

Ertwine explains that he travels to Battelle’s Columbus headquarters about twice a month, as the company constantly tweaks business processes and looks for efficiencies. “I’ve really seen our business operations mature over the past 11 years – partly because of our own initiative and partly because of how the defense budget is trending.” Noting that budgeted R&D funding has been declining and the industry as a whole is seeing fewer contracts, Ertwine says the scenario was made worse after sequestration. “Even after the budget picture cleared up, the additional uncertainty of reduced personnel hours and furlough days made it difficult for organizations to execute programs.”

According to Ertwine, one of Battelle’s strengths is its ability to go beyond organizational boundaries and bring together teams across business lines to collaborate and deliver a product or service. “We’re very well-known in chem/bio defense, but we also provide solutions in defense applied technology, tactical systems, cyber innovations, critical infrastructure, maritime systems, identity management and life sciences.”

As a retired general officer, Ertwine is acutely aware of the Army’s divesture as the country withdraws from current conflicts, but he sees ample opportunity ahead. “We know that the Army is going to get smaller and divest the combat brigades. The remaining brigades will be more robust and more self-sufficient. The idea being that you have a deployable and responsive force that you can move to a theater or point of engagement quickly, and it can be effective and self-sufficient without bringing five times as many people just to support them. With that in mind, we do a lot of work on operational energy, for example working on fuel cell technologies that are not only more efficient, but quieter and more tactically effective.”

“I have known Dean as a sponsor when he was a General Officer in the Army, as a colleague on several STEM/professional related activities and as a friend since I transferred to Maryland as a result of BRAC. He has helped me and many others integrate into the APG community over the past several years, which has facilitated our ability to contribute to the APG mission. We have worked together on several professional activities where he has been a wise councilor. He is a go to person on matters of how best to serve the Army/APG.”
-Bernard DeMarinis, MITRE Corporation

Ertwine continues describing Battelle’s work in areas like solar technologies and mobile ice making machines so that soldiers can deploy forward. “Imagine the efficiencies and savings not having to bring in clean water or ice to a remote place like Afghanistan. The Army spends much, much more money hauling water then they do ammunition. So, if you give the soldiers on the ground the capabilities to drill their own well or, with assurance, purify a local water source, imagine the possibilities. By anticipating what the units will need and the environment they may be stationed in, that’s how we decide to make our internal investments.”

Sometimes the R&D isn’t in new technologies or solutions, but in improving old ones. “Many of our combat systems were built in the 1980s with technologies that were current in the ’80s. We’re not building new weapons, so they’ll be in the field for at least 20 more years. A lot of electronic components are packed full of circuitry – that’s how we did it 30 years ago. Today, a young bright electronics engineer can look at that, play with it a little, and redesign it so instead of having this box packed full of stuff, it’s just a board with a few chips on it. It’s instantly more reliable, weighs less, and takes up a little less space.” Referred to internally as the Technology Refreshment Program, Battelle staff pursues these opportunities, especially looking for ways to save money in legacy systems that are unreliable or are high dollar to repair or replace.

Newly retired from the Army and at Battelle when he was recruited by the Army Alliance to advocate for APG during BRAC, Ertwine was also called upon along with other retired officers at Fort Monmouth to campaign for the status quo in New Jersey. It was a delicate situation that he navigated successfully by not taking a position and balancing his input to ensure opposing arguments were accurately represented. “When I was assigned to APG after two years at Fort Monmouth, my wife didn’t want to leave. But, when we got here, we fell in love with the area. We bought five acres of land near Harford Community College and built our home. It’s our 24th address in our married life and I hope it’s the last. Our house is right near a nursing home so when it’s time …

“At a recent Army Alliance meeting, we were talking about the other retired general officers in the area. We looked around and realized that I’m the only one,” he chuckles. “In spite of the current defense downturn, I still see a bright future for APG, Harford County and Battelle,” he adds. “I hope to contribute on all three fronts for years to come – and maybe even convince a few more generals to stay in the area.” I95

Battelle Eastern Science & Technology Center (BEST)
1204 Technology Drive
Aberdeen, MD 21001-1228