U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command scientists and engineers are stationed around the globe to explore international collaboration opportunities in scientific research and technology development, opportunities that will potentially close capability gaps for the U.S. Army.
Three regional RDECOM Forward Element Commands, known as RFECs, represent this international endeavor:
- RFEC Atlantic
- RFEC Americas
- RFEC Pacific
From basic science to insights on maturing technology, foreign research contributes to the development of U.S. products and provides solutions that improve American capabilities.
RFEC Atlantic’s FAST teams support two combatant commands: EUCOM and AFRICOM.
In Stuttgart, Germany, FAST members assigned to the U.S. Africa Command have helped solve capability gaps ranging from man-portable water solutions to providing solar power for remote outposts. Their efforts at AFRICOM aim to solve long-range, long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance challenges inherent in a vast area of operation.
The AFRICOM FAST advisor coordinates with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Joint IED Defeat Organization, CERDEC and SOCOM in support of Special Operations Forces Africa and AFRICOM.
FAST members at EUCOM have a strategic focus and represent EUCOM in Joint Concept Technology Demonstration and Coalition Warfare Program initiatives. The EUCOM FAST advisor and staff provide input and endorsement support, and some case management support, to JCTD programs that support command priorities and objectives.
They also maintain a close relationship with the JCTD office. The EUCOM FAST office reviews and provides support and endorsement of CWPs that address EUCOM priorities and objectives.
The USAREUR FAST advisor supports the Army Service Component Command by providing immediate access to the research and development enterprise to expedite technology solutions to Soldiers.
The Joint Multinational Readiness Command FAST advisor and Joint Multinational Readiness Center noncommissioned officer provide S&T support to U.S. and multinational training and exercises at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, Germany, working directly with Soldiers to improve training, interoperability and equipment.
ITCs in England, France and Germany are the European scouts for U.S.-based RDECOM research centers and laboratories and provide direct support to ASA(ALT), DASA DE&C and DASA R/T in international cooperation missions. This includes developing opportunities for the Army’s Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program, Foreign Technology & Science Assessment Support, and Foreign Comparative Testing initiatives.
RFEC Atlantic ITCs maintain links to defense establishments in the United Kingdom and Germany. An Army liaison officer is embedded in each of those nations’ ministry of defense. ITC France nurtures a long-established relationship with the French Ministry of Defense direction Generale De l’Armement – the French Defense Procurement Agency.
These relationships position RFEC Atlantic to link the science and research establishments of these countries in collaborative partnerships with RDECOM.
From London to offices in France and Germany, Army scientists and engineers interact with international researchers at their home institutions. They foster and maintain relationships with an S&T community that is spread over 110 nations in Europe, Africa and states of the former Soviet Union.
ITC scientists blend their awareness of regional scientific development with access to scientists at the RDECs and ARL to provide a core S&T team for collaborations between U.S. Army scientists and researchers in the international S&T community. The goal of these S&T engagements is to build effective international, academic, governmental, and industry partnerships with researchers engaged in cutting-edge research that benefits the Army.
“From the leading edge of international research, collaborative projects not only build lasting relationships,” said RFEC Atlantic Commander Col. Keith Hirschman. “The projects allow the ITCs to leverage a small amount of research money to gain a huge return against the cost of the research effort.”
Occasionally, a small research project with minimal funding grows into a multi-year, multi-service research effort, or possibly a CWP initiative, as was the case with the Battlefield Antenna CWP. From a small beginning as a seed-funded research grant with the University of Siena (Italy) in metamaterials, the initiative evolved into a multi-year project with Italy and the UK resulting in new antenna capabilities for communication and CIED systems.
“All ITC Atlantic-supported basic research efforts have the potential to deliver the same kind of success,” Hirschman said. “The capability to leverage international networks for innovative research is amplified by partnering with other services to collaborate internationally on research and technology of common interest.”
With support from Office of Naval Research Global and European Office of Aerospace Research and Defense, ITC-ATL has daily engagements with foreign counterparts, searching for R&D partnership opportunities that combine efforts and share results — to “invest a dollar to gain two dollars” worth of research.
RFEC Atlantic is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.