Gaetano “Tom” Cataldo served the U.S. government for over 36 years, combining careers in the U.S. Army, the Joint Staff, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was also an employee of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Technical Secretariat. He is now retired and living in Cape May, New Jersey.
From 1979-1983, while there was a border between East and West Germany, Mr. Cataldo served in the U.S. Army as a staff officer in Fulda, Germany, with an Armored Cavalry Regiment. After three years in Fort Meade, Maryland, training U.S. National Guard and Reserve units for deployment, he was assigned to another border unit, this time for one year with an Infantry Division along the North and South Korean border. Upon returning from Korea in early 1988, Mr. Cataldo was awarded a one-year internship on the Joint Staff. He was assigned to the Joint Staff office to monitor the ongoing negotiating to ban chemical weapons. This coincided with the initiation of the Army’s acquisition of its new binary CW. Mr. Cataldo picked up negotiation skills and negotiated himself an additional two-year assignment to that office, becoming part of the U.S. interagency process to fully develop the Chemical Weapons Convention. In 1991, rather than be re-assigned back to the Army, Mr. Cataldo was able to convince the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to extract him from the Pentagon to be it’s Military Advisor for continued work on the CWC.
He remained with ACDA after the CWC was completed and led delegations to the Preparatory Commission to finalize the treaty’s implementation provisions. As entry into force approached, Mr. Cataldo moved back to the Defense Department in 1996. He became
the Deputy Treaty Manager developing plans and procedures for the implementation of the new CWC within the Defense Department. While there, he accompanied international inspection teams to the Defense Department’s initial and subsequent routine inspection of all its CW research, production, storage, and disposal facilities.
In 2000, Mr. Cataldo moved to The Hague to join the OPCW as the Head of the Technical Support Branch. In that role, he oversaw the acquisition, maintenance, and employment of the OPCW’s inspection equipment as well as the establishment and functioning of the OPCW’s internal laboratory. Mr. Cataldo returned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2002 as the Defense Department’s Treaty Manager for Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Treaties and Agreements. He eventually also assumed responsibility for oversight of the Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Mr. Cataldo retired from the Department of Defense in March of 2015.
During his career, Mr. Cataldo initiated several significant concepts within the U.S. government and presented these to its international partners. These included a challenge inspection nomination and implementation procedure; a means to monitor and inspect the production of discreet organic precursors to chemical weapons; a format for the OPCW Preparatory Commission to develop treaty implementation details using groups of experts; the three-tiered OPCW inspector training program; and a process for the Department to review and adjudicate questions regarding its internal compliance with multilateral treaties.