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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Feb. 18, 2014) — Army researchers, scientists and engineers are collaborating and sharing to leverage limited resources and discover leap-ahead technologies.
“I think collaboration is really essential,” said Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “No single person or organization possesses a monopoly on innovative ideas. It is critical for us to collaborate with industry, academia, federally funded R&D centers and other government organizations to solve difficult problems. So my vision is that we will collaborate across the board to spur innovation.”
Shyu gave the featured interview in the March issue of Army Technology Magazine, a publication of science and technology news from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Partnership is the focus of the new issue.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 23, 2013) — British and U.S. Army researchers are partnering to enhance biometric and surveillance capabilities as the result of an exchange program between the countries.
Dr. Kevin Leonard, a U.S. Army physicist, focused on advancing facial-recognition technologies during his two-year assignment in the United Kingdom.
“How far can we look and see who someone is? How can we help our Soldiers see better and farther?” said Leonard, who was assigned to the UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory in Salisbury.
Leonard said he wanted to better understand how different countries approach similar scientific topics. When the DSTL chief executive visited Leonard’s organization to talk about possible collaborations, an area of mutual interest was biometrics. The discussions piqued Leonard’s interest.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army Reserve officers are serving a key role in identifying and addressing science and technology needs during a major U.S. Army exercise in the Pacific.
Col. John Olson is leading four officers from the Army Reserve Sustainment Command, Detachment 8, who will deploy to South Korea in August for Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2013.
The team interacts with Soldiers to better understand how Army scientists and engineers can improve capabilities on the peninsula, Olson said.
“These are real-world shortfalls. It’s part of a real-world war plan,” said Olson, who also participated in UFG 2011. “If we don’t begin to address this now, we may not be able to address these issues when a war starts.
“They understand there are important capability gaps that we can begin addressing now prior to actually needing them.”
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — When Soldiers needed to replicate a key part of an OH-58D Kiowa helicopter to return it to duty, they turned to the expertise of a deployed U.S. Army civilian engineering team.
After the helicopter’s fuselage bracket supporting the copilot’s seat sustained damage from incoming fire, the 1106th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group Task Force 14 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, sought a quick turn-around solution.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 12, 2013) — U.S. Army civilian engineers and engineering technicians have deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, for the past two years to develop field-expedient solutions for Soldiers.
They comprise the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, a forward-deployed prototype integration facility and Energy Initiative Proving Ground.
Mike Anthony recently completed a six-month deployment in which he served as RFAST-C director. He returns to his job as the chief of the Mission Command Capabilities Division at RDECOM’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.
In an interview with the RDECOM public affairs office, Anthony discussed how RFAST-C brings expertise of the command’s scientists and engineers directly to theater to empower, unburden and protect Soldiers.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army science advisors are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers’ needs.
The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program’s 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s thousands of subject matter experts.
American Soldiers in Afghanistan were recently challenged in securing a facility for coalition forces. They turned to deployed U.S. Army civilian engineers for a solution.
Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, known as the 1-9 Cav, had been unsuccessful in finding the expertise they needed to design, build and install new force-protection measures. After meeting with the forward deployed engineering cell from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, a fix began to take shape.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Transitioning a technology prototype from an Army engineer’s laboratory to the Soldier on the ground is filled with potential obstacles.
To overcome challenges associated with manufacturing Soldiers’ equipment, from helicopters to helmets, the U.S. Army enlists the Manufacturing Technology Program, commonly known as ManTech.
Andy Davis, ManTech program manager with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said his team is focused on addressing issues in affordability and producibility.
“[Scientists and engineers] develop technologies in the labs. They can make one or two [prototypes] in the lab, but they can’t make them in quantity,” Davis said. “ManTech bridges that gap. In terms of the Warfighter impact, it helps get items more quickly to the [field].”
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A team of U.S. civilian engineers and technicians deployed to Afghanistan recently marked one year of solving Soldiers’ technological hurdles.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, Forward Deployed Prototype Integration Facility provides a platform for its subject matter experts’ knowledge and talents to be translated into battlefield solutions, said Michael Anthony, the team’s director.
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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Explosives along roadways remain an unrelenting hazard for deployed Soldiers.
U.S. Army engineers have developed a system for detecting possible threats by identifying potential threat locations on unimproved roads.
The Shadow Class Infrared Spectral Sensor-Ground, known as SCISSOR-G, could allow Soldiers on a route clearance patrol to achieve greater standoff ranges during missions, said Jim Hilger, chief of the Signal and Image Processing Branch within the U.S. Army Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Fort Belvoir, Va.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – U.S. Army officials announced the winners of its greatest inventions competition Sept. 19.
A team of combat veteran non-commissioned officers, as well as U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command field-grade officers, reviewed and voted for the Army Greatest Inventions of 2011.
Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, commended the scientists and engineers for their efforts to empower, unburden and protect Soldiers.
“The contributions made by these teams promise to improve the well-being of Soldiers and the Army’s capability to contribute to quality of life and our national security,” Ormond said. “All of the nominated inventions demonstrate significant contributions to the warfighter.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Because of Aberdeen Proving Ground’s new role as the Army’s hub for science and technology, officials say the installation has the opportunity to become a national leader in science, technology, engineering and math education outreach.
The thousands of scientists and engineers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG, should spur innovation as the Army promotes interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said Patrick Baker, who recently assumed the newly created position of APG STEM Champion.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A recent college graduate moved from Texas to Maryland so he could work with the best scientists in the field of chemical defense.
Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said his position allows him the best opportunity to use classroom principles for real-world applications.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s senior noncommissioned officer, returned May 13 from a nine-day mission to Afghanistan.
In an interview with RDECOM public affairs, Beharie discussed how the command is providing the technological edge to Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
What were your objectives during your first visit to Operation Enduring Freedom as RDECOM’s command sergeant major?
“It was two-fold. First, we have folks who are doing great work in harm’s way, supporting the Warfighter. I wanted to pay them a visit, let them know who I am, and talk with them; get their concerns and issues they are dealing with; hear about some of the opportunities they had to support our Warfighter; technologies they were able to help field.
Second, [I wanted] to meet the senior enlisted Soldiers in the battlespace and hear from them how [RDECOM is] doing providing them the resources and technology to fight on the battlefield. That part is just as important. If they don’t know that we’re there or don’t know what value we add, we quickly become low-hanging fruit. As [the Army] ramps down in theater, we become the first to go home. That would be a tragedy to leave the Soldiers without the technology or the connection to the technology that we are able to give from our labs.”
As you talked with the Soldiers and civilians supporting OEF, what support do they need from RDECOM?
“When I was a Warfighter, I did not know what RDECOM provided me. Throughout the [Army Force Generation] process and the re-set process, there was a lot of technology that came my way that we, as a unit, had to integrate into our organization.
It’s the same thing with the Soldiers currently in theater. Some do not know RDECOM existed. They received technology and support from RDECOM, but we need to do better with our strategic communications and getting the word out. Part of my reasoning for going to theater is to get the word out [what] we, as RDECOM, provide and how we can better assist our Soldiers.”
How can RDECOM’s scientists and engineers in the United States do better to provide timely solutions to address these needs?
“I think the lines of communication, the resources that we have, and the reachback capability that we have to our labs, scientists and engineers — I think that is what we need to do better.
Our scientists and engineers are doing a fabulous job supporting our Warfighters. They come to work every day energized. For us to have the reachback from [Soldiers and commanders in] theater, our [Logistics Assistance Representative and Field Service Representatives] help by telling us where the gaps are. [We] fill those gaps in our labs with an emerging technology or [with] equipment we already built to increase capabilities on the battlefield. I think our scientists and engineers are doing a great job.”
Where in Afghanistan did you go?
“I had the opportunity to tour the entire breadth of Afghanistan where major commands are. Those are the hubs. If you get the commands and hubs to understand the type of support that we provide on a daily basis, that will proliferate across the subordinate commands.
We met with [Regional Command]-South and talked with them about our lines of effort and support. [We made] sure we are linked [for] them reaching back to us. They have several ways to get to us. The [Rapid Equipping Force] 10-liner will come back to us. The [Operational Needs Statement] [Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement] process will come back to us. Our [Science and Technology Assistance Teams] in theater will bring stuff back to us to action and provide material solutions to Warfighters.”
How does the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center accomplish its mission of providing engineering solutions to Soldiers directly in theater?
“What a tremendous capability to our Soldiers. This is a big win for the Army. This is a battlefield enabler having the RFAST-C that forward in theater. In six months, they have done over 177 projects for theater. That is throughout the [Combined Joint Operation Area], throughout the battlespace. While I was there, they were working on projects for the [Afghanistan Working Group] for the Afghan Army. They are working on engineering projects for the Air Force’s AC-130.
You name it, they are working on it. You have a Soldier who walks up to the RFAST-C and says, ‘Hey, I have a problem.’ I met that Soldier, a specialist. He showed me how he came up with the design, his drawings, what he envisioned, and the problem he had. He walked up to one of our engineers and said, ‘Hey, here is a problem that I have. Here is what I think a solution could be. Can you do something about this?’ Our scientist said, ‘Absolutely we can do something about it.’ They put the engineering mental muscle behind it and came up with a great product to fill that Soldier’s problem. This proliferates on the battlefield. It was a game-changer. This was an adjustment that had to be made because of new technology that we sent to theater to protect our Soldiers. We had to adjust how we placed certain items on vehicles.
I cannot speak enough about how great of a resource [the RFAST-C] it is for theater. I spoke to RC-South, RC-East, RC-Capital. I’ve talked to every command, all the way through [International Security Assistance Force] Command, and they all are singing the praises of what we are doing in theater.”
How will RDECOM leverage the experience gained from establishing RFAST-C in OEF to set up a similar capability for future Army or joint operations?
“The Army is looking at what it calls ‘RFAST-C in a Box.’ It probably will not have all the capabilities that our current RFAST-C has, but it will have a lot of those capabilities. There are some capabilities that the Army had previously within the [Army Field Support Brigades] that are provided in theater; however, not in the quality and quantity that is provided through the RFAST-C. With our emerging technologies, I can see sometime in the future that we are going to have an ‘RFAST-C in a Box’ traveling around the battlespace. I think this was the birth of a great idea that will help the Warfighter for a long time to come.”
How can RDECOM continue to share its initiatives and contributions with the Army?
“[RDECOM Director] Mr. [Dale] Ormond sat down with the Board of Directors and came up with six lines of effort. One of the lines of effort is strategic communications. I think I can impact that in a big way through the senior enlisted leaders engagement throughout the Army.
Seeing the senior enlisted leaders in theater is great. However, I think that communication needs to start back here at home. One of the initiatives that I have started is to go out and see the divisions and the major unit commands at home before they go to theater. Let them know what we are and what we do. The Army has an educational process for deployers. Give them ways that they can enhance the performance of their Soldiers and equipment on the battlefield. One of those resources is RDECOM.
I think that we need to make ourselves part of that educational process. Let RDECOM be one of those stops that those commands will make prior to going to theater. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be an enormous game-changing opportunity for those commands. I will take the message out and let them know what we are, who we are, and what we can do for them as they fight our nation’s wars.”
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soldiers stationed in remote combat outposts face logistics and safety challenges to power their radios, laptops and GPS units.
U.S. Army scientists are researching methods to harness the sun and wind to ease the burdens associated with transporting fossil fuels to dangerous areas.
Marnie de Jong, an electrical engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, is helping to develop renewable-energy based microgrids that work independently of traditional grid power.
Microgrids help to integrate different sources of energy for more efficient use and storage, she said.
“There has been a larger demand from the field for fuel reduction and power in remote locations,” de Jong said. “As that demand has increased, we have increased our focus in those areas.
“Microgrids will be able to take solar, wind and batteries and use them together. You can use solar when there is no wind available. Different pieces of the puzzle work better in different places. By making this a solution set, you can take what you need given your location.”
To provide alternative power sources to Soldiers in combat, de Jong and her colleagues at RDECOM’s Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing two systems — Reusing Existing Natural Energy from Wind and Solar, or RENEWS, and Renewable Energy for Distributed Undersupplied Command Environments, or REDUCE.
EASING LOGISTICS CHALLENGES
CERDEC started work on RENEWS in 2009 under an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act program for photovoltaics in which it partnered with RDECOM’s Army Research Laboratory and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The team has developed RENEWS prototypes and is finishing internal testing, de Jong said.
Units are being sent for operational assessments from Soldiers at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., and U.S. Africa Command.
“The RENEWS system is completely renewable energy [with] solar and wind components,” de Jong said. “It’s meant for smaller, mostly communications systems in very remote locations that are difficult to get to re-supply fuel or [where] it might be dangerous. It would be a self-sustaining system.”
RENEWS is designed to power two or three laptops continuously as long as there is power coming daily from the solar panels or wind turbine, she said. The storage component will be able to provide power at peak demand for about five hours when energy is not being generated by the renewable components.
The RENEWS components weight about 100 pounds, and it is stored in two cases weighing about 70 pounds each.
The Army intends the RENEWS and REDUCE systems to be complementary, resulting in power-grid technology that addresses power generation, distribution, load, renewables and storage.
A major concern for military logisticians is securing routes for fuel-truck convoys. According to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, environment and technology, said one in 46 convoys suffers a casualty.
“There will be a reduction in fuel that is necessary for regular operations,” de Jong said. “That is one of the major concerns in the field in transporting fuel — logistics and safety. We are working to reduce fuel consumption by supplementing generators with renewable energy sources.”
INTEGRATED, INTELLIGENT POWER SYSTEMS
Work on the three-year REDUCE program is in the early stages, de Jong said. It is designed to be towed on a Humvee trailer.
“The key behind the system is the intelligent power management and distribution, as well as the plug and play capability for devices. Automatic-device detection and power distribution make it a network of power systems that is capable of adjusting based on mission demands and needs,” she said.
The REDUCE integrates renewables with traditional fossil-fuel generators to reduce consumption. The goal is to ease the Soldier’s work by having the system manage all the power.
“The problem with a lot of [Army] systems is that they don’t all work together. Pieces from one don’t necessarily work with pieces from another,” de Jong said. “You can’t get two systems to parallel when they’re made from different places.
“Under the REDUCE system, we’re looking to make that all happen automatically. We [will] have an interface defined for all the systems components such that you don’t run into the problem where the different pieces don’t work together.”
UNBURDENING THE SOLDIER
Scientists and engineers across the Army focus on removing obstacles for Soldiers. By integrating smart power systems, CERDEC’s aim is to allow Soldiers to concentrate on their missions instead of monitoring power systems.
“One of the biggest challenges is getting different systems to work together,” de Jong said. “It’s really frustrating for Soldiers in the field when they just want to use this cable with this battery, and it doesn’t work. One of the major technical challenges is having standardization for interfaces and smarts that make all the pieces work seamlessly so the Soldier doesn’t have to configure anything.
“Soldiers will appreciate the plug and play capability. They don’t need to be an expert in power systems. They can just turn it on, and it gives them situational awareness into their power systems. It will report back to them what is going on and if there is a problem.”
REDUCING ENVIROMENTAL IMPACT
The RENEWS and REDUCE systems will also contribute to the Army’s goal of increasing energy efficiency and lessening the reliance on fossil fuels, she said.
“Renewable energy solutions are helping to reduce the carbon footprint. They generate energy more efficiently on-site from renewable sources. It’s good for the Army, good for the Soldier, and good for the environment,” de Jong said.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 7, 2012) — A Soldier treks through treacherous terrain in a dangerous combat zone with a rucksack filled with meals ready-to-eat, first-aid gear, weapons, ammunition, radios and batteries.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is lightening the Soldier’s load by developing smaller and lighter batteries. Scientists and engineers are unburdening the Soldier, increasing maneuverability, reducing fatigue, and cutting time needed for battery re-charging.
Christopher Hurley, an electronics engineer with RDECOM’s Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center for six years, leads the battery development projects team.
“One of the major projects on the battery team is trying to reduce the logistics burden,” Hurley said. “We investigate state-of-the-art battery chemistries that will help us to decrease the Soldier load.”
HALF-SIZE BA-5590 BATTERY
Hurley and his colleagues have reduced the size and weight of the standard BA-5590 battery by half, but the performance and run time has remained the same. The Half-Size BA-5590 plugs into the same equipment, about 80 types of radios and robots, as the full-size version.
“The Soldier can still perform the same [mission] with half the weight and volume in batteries,” Hurley said. “It will lighten their load and increase their maneuverability so they have more freedom to get around on the battlefield.”
The research team accomplished the size and weight savings through improvements in the battery’s materials, he said. One of the battery chemistries under development is lithium-carbon monoflouride.
“A lot of the research is done on the materials. Once we identified a chemistry that has potential to lighten the Soldier load, a lot goes into it in terms of the raw materials — the cathode, anode, and energy-storage components that afford us a high-energy density battery,” Hurley said.
The Army has been working on the battery for five years, and it should be fielded to Soldiers in about a year, Hurley said.
POLYMER CONFORMAL BATTERY
As the Army transforms to meet changing battlefield threats, Soldiers need to be agile without carrying boxed-sized batteries around their bodies. CERDEC is partnering with RDECOM’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop a 0.8 inch-thick battery that can be placed into a Soldier’s vest.
“We’re putting those same battery chemistries into a wearable battery configuration known as the Polymer Conformal Battery,” Hurley said. “The idea is to keep it close to the body so there are not a lot of projections from the body. When the Soldier is in a prone position or tight spaces, you don’t have huge batteries sticking out.
“The next step is to get it into an integrated, wearable vest system so that Soldiers can wear this battery to have it run to all of their equipment.”
SOLDIER WEARABLE INTEGRATED POWER SYSTEM
The Soldier Wearable Integrated Power System, known as SWIPES, supplies a main battery from a central location to power all end-items.
SWIPES places pouch-mounted chargers and power cables for batteries, GPS units, shot-detection systems and handheld communications into the vest. It allows for extended mission times without the need to of swap batteries or power sources by keeping devices charged at all times.
SWIPES won one of the top 10 U.S. Army Greatest Inventions in 2010.
“All of the cabling is routed through the different pockets for radios and equipment. The idea is to have this battery power all of the equipment,” Hurley said.
The Army Rapid Equipping Force and Project Manager Soldier Warrior have started field testing several hundred SWIPES units.
“The major benefit is the weight savings. For a typical 72-hour mission, a Soldier will save up to 12 pounds of batteries they don’t have to carry,” Hurley said.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie assumed duties as the leader of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s enlisted Soldiers March 16. He took over for Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, who served as RDECOM’s senior noncommissioned officer since 2007.
In an interview with RDECOM public affairs, Beharie discussed the role of the command’s enlisted Soldiers, the needs of Soldiers in theater, and how Army scientists and engineers will continue to provide the technological edge for its Soldiers.
What is your message to RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers?
“Being the new sergeant major, I want to get to know who they are, what they do for the organization, and talk to them about their concerns. As a junior Soldier, I wanted to know that my leaders were not only going to give me a mission but care about me and care about what I care about.
I want to get to know them. We have great Warfighters at RDECOM. They are helping RDECOM become a better organization with better support to our Warfighters.”
How is your role different at RDECOM, where the workforce is predominantly civilian, compared with your previous assignments?
“You have to take a different approach when working with Department of the Army civilians. They don’t have any less love for the military. I find they are just as proactive and proud of their service to our Warfighters; it’s just a different uniform.
The things they want to do for Soldiers, they want to know that it matters. [It's the] same thing with Soldiers in the field in an operational organization. We have a mission; we have our marching orders, we know what we need to do for the Army. With civilians, it’s exactly the same.
Everyone wants to do great and wonderful things and to know that we are doing that with one thing in mind — to make a nation stronger by making our Warfighters stronger.”
How do RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers help the command empower, unburden, protect and sustain the Warfighter?
“The Soldiers of RDECOM are subject matter experts within their military occupation specialty, and they bring this professionalism with them to this command. They represent every Warfighter within our Army by using their knowledge to advise our scientists and engineers when they develop materiel solutions for the Army.
We are basically supporting ourselves. We are Warfighters. We come out of the war for a small bit to come to RDECOM and places like RDECOM that support the Warfighter. We bring that wealth of knowledge from the battlefield. We are the ones using all this technology being developed by RDECOM. Knowing and having a feel for that is invaluable to our scientists and engineers. Bringing that to the command is absolutely important.
The second part of that is bridging the connection between civilian scientists and engineers to the Warfighters out in the field. We know them. We were them. To bridge that gap, that is another thing we do well as Soldiers in RDECOM.”
What are the greatest technology needs Soldiers have in Afghanistan?
“We are there to protect the population. We are there to separate the enemy from the population and to give the population a fighting chance to develop into a great nation. That’s what they want.
What we need is the security to do that. Any technology that gives us the edge to be more secure to do our jobs better in and around the battlefield is what [Soldiers] want. Technology gives us that edge. We do it better than any other country in supporting our Warfighters to accomplish their mission.”
How can RDECOM’s scientists and engineers have the greatest impact on Soldiers?
“We have great systems in place within RDECOM. We have the RFAST-C [RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan] in theater. Our Warfighters go directly to the engineers and say, ‘I need this, and I want it to look like this.’ Our engineers at the PIF [Prototype Integration Facility] in theater can produce a materiel solution in very little time.
We have even bigger support mechanisms in place. We have our Science and Technology Assistance Teams. We know what [the Soldiers'] needs are because we are there with them as they go through the throes of battle.
We have reachback capabilities to our scientists who have a wider assortment of tools and materiel solutions to help our Warfighters accomplish their missions.”
What advice did Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin give you during your transition period?
“We knew each other before I was selected for this position. Once I knew I was coming here, we talked about what this command is, what [it] does, and how well it does what it has to do.
This doesn’t always happen in the military where you get time to transition. He and I had time to sit down, and I picked his brain. [We] traveled to see our RDECs [Research, Development and Engineering Centers] to talk to our folks. We have a great tradition at RDECOM of supporting the Warfighter. That’s exactly what I intend to do.”
How can RDECOM better inform Soldiers about in science and technology for Soldiers?
“That’s a continual process. We have a great network of people around the world looking for technology, trying to develop technology with partners in other nations. Just this morning, I had a theater update brief, where all of our folks in different countries dial-in to talk about the challenges that their supported elements are having and what RDECOM can do to help the Warfighters out there.
Our [public affairs office] tells the stories of our organization. [We] use all the multimedia sources to get the information out. I believe that becomes even more relevant for our Soldiers to know what we do, what we can provide, and how we can provide it. That’s the biggest challenge. We have to get after that every day.”
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command toured historic coastal defenses at the Verrazano Narrows March 22 as part of noncommissioned officer (NCO)professional development at Picatinny Arsenal from March 18-23.
Visiting Fort Hamilton, N.Y. on the east side of the narrows and Fort Wadsworth, N.Y. on the west, the NCOs saw historic fortifications, cannons and mortars that are now relics but had once been integral to state-of-the art systems designed to prevent enemy ships from attacking New York City.
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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — After five days of competition that pushed four Soldiers’ physical abilities and technical expertise, Staff Sgt. Markus Whisman and Pfc. Joshua Inserra earned honors March 30 as the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, respectively.
RDECOM’s enlisted corps serves an important role by acting as Soldier representatives with the Army’s scientists and engineers, Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie said.
RDECOM Director Dale Ormond and Beharie presented the winners Army Commendation Medals; gift certificates from AAFES and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and an RDECOM backpack filled with T-shirts.
Ormond recognized all the participants for their important role in RDECOM’s mission of empowering, unburdening and protecting American Soldiers.
“Thank you for your service. Thank you for your enthusiasm, motivation, leadership and commitment to excellence,” Ormond said.
Whisman, a research and development adviser assigned to Army Research Laboratory at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and Inserra, a signal support systems maintainer assigned to Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at APG, now advance to the Army Materiel Command NCO and Soldier of the Year competitions.
Also vying for the honors were:
– Staff Sgt. Sharalis Canales, a behavioral health NCO assigned to Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center at Natick, Mass.
– Staff Sgt. Christopher Duff, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader assigned to the EOD Technology Directorate at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
The Soldiers discussed their backgrounds, family lives, personal goals and combat tours with the RDECOM public affairs office during the competition week.
GAINING LEADERSHIP, EDUCATION, SKILLS
The Soldiers agreed they have benefited tremendously from their decision to enlist.
Inserra, the junior Soldier among the competitors with 22 months of service, said he enlisted because of his family’s positive experiences in the military. His brother served in the Army, and a cousin served in the Marine Corps.
“They had that feeling of knowledge, training and confidence. I wanted that,” Inserra said.
Inserra is planning to use the Army’s educational benefits to complete his degree in electrical engineering. He praised his NCOs for their leadership and hopes to emulate them as he progresses during his Army career.
“I have a great bunch of NCOs in front of me. I want to be like them. I want to have the leadership that they have,” he said. “I’ve gained so much more confidence in myself than I could have ever imagined. I’m enjoying that confidence. I’m more confident in my writing. I’m more confident in the way I speak to people.”
Canales has changed her life dramatically since enlisting six years ago.
“I was homeless. I was living in a shelter in Times Square for six months. I needed a sense of direction. I went to the recruiting station and I joined,” she said. “The Army has been my family, and it’s been everything to me.”
Canales completed her associate’s degree three weeks ago. She is now studying for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work. After retiring from active duty, she hopes to return as an Army civilian employee.
“[I want] to continue serving in the mental-health field to help Soldiers, families and retirees,” she said.
“It’s weird how I went from being homeless and before that living in a foster home with counselors.
“When I joined the Army, the roles reversed. Now I am a counselor, so I’m able to give back. I think it’s wonderful that I can do that. My experience before I joined helped shape what I’ve learned.”
The Soldiers said the American public holds misconceptions about the Army that are reinforced by incidents such as when Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.
“One of the misconceptions is that we all go to Iraq, run around, shooting guns at whoever we see, and killing everyone,” Duff said. “That’s not what we’re there for at all. It’s not what it’s all about.
“There is a mission over there. We are all over there for a small piece of that mission and to come home safely.”
Canales echoed Duff’s comments. She said her military experience differs greatly from the images seen on TV news of infantrymen on patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“I think a lot of civilians who don’t know much about the Army believe that all we do is go to war, fight, and kill people,” Canales said. “Even my brothers believe I carry a gun at all times. I wish they could come and see what we do in the Army. I’m a counselor, and I’ve been in the hospital setting for the last six years.”
COMBAT BRINGS A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Whisman and Duff have deployed to the Middle East, and they gained a better understanding of the military’s objectives in the area.
“When you deploy, you get to see a little bit of the bigger picture,” Duff said. “You see why we do what we do and what we’re there to do. For a family, it reassured my wife that she can get through a deployment and keep the house under control.”
Whisman said he has a new appreciation for life as an American.
“I saw some things that definitely put my life here in perspective. They have so little. I’ll never again take for granted what I have at home,” Whisman said. “It could be so much worse. As bad as you think you might have it, it could always be a lot worse.”
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Four enlisted Soldiers will test their physical fitness, endurance, technical aptitude and reasoning skills March 26 to 30 for top honors within the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
On a sunny, cool and breezy morning, three staff sergeants and one private first class kicked off the five-day competition for RDECOM Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.
Vying for the awards are:
– Staff Sgt. Sharalis Canales, a behavioral health NCO assigned to Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center at Natick, Mass. She is from New York City and has six years of service.
– Staff Sgt. Christopher Duff, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader assigned to the EOD Technology Directorate at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. He is from Riner, Va., and has eight years of service.
– Staff Sgt. Markus Whisman, a research and development adviser assigned to Army Research Laboratory at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. He is from Palm Bay, Fla., and has seven years of service.
– Pfc. Joshua Inserra, a signal support systems maintainer assigned to Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at APG. He is from Yerington, Nev., and has one year of service.
They began with the Army Physical Fitness Test, followed by weapons qualification at an ARL small-arms target range. RDECOM NCOs Sgt. Maj. William Tager and Sgt. 1st Class Chris Currie supervised the M-4 Rifle marksmanship test, as well as an M-240B Machine Gun function check that included loading, unloading and correcting malfunctions.
The participants will continue with tasks that examine their physical and mental abilities: a land-navigation course at Lauderick Creek Training Site, obstacle course at Gunpowder Military Reservation, Warrior tasks within training scenarios, 12-mile road march with 40-pound rucksack, essay and written exam, media interview and board appearance.
RDECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie will preside over an awards ceremony March 30. The winners will advance to the Army Materiel Command NCO and Soldier of the Year competition.