APG organizations establish STEM agreement with Harford schools


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army is bolstering its commitment to science and math education in northeast Maryland to increase the number of students seeking high-tech careers.

Eight major APG tenant organizations agreed to a partnership Dec. 14 with Harford County Public Schools to expand educational outreach efforts in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM.

The agreement will help increase participation and improve HCPS students’ performance in STEM and programs that expand academic opportunities, officials said.

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Army program aims to protect Soldiers’ hearing

Master Sgt. Tyler Thomas, a U.S. Army National Guardsman who works as a Contractor As Representative Soldier with the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, participates in the localization testing of one of eight candidates for the Tactical Communications and Protective System at the Army Research Laboratory’s Environment for Auditory Research at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Dec. 3.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army is evaluating commercial-off-the-shelf options for a new hearing-protection system that will provide Soldiers with the situational awareness to increase mission effectiveness and the safety and survivability they need, officials said.

Capt. Randy Shields, assistant product manager for the Tactical Communication and Protective System, said the goal is preventing hearing injury while allowing Soldiers to remain cognizant of their environment during combat.

“The capability gap is providing hearing protection and situational awareness,” he said. “Hearing plugs provide hearing protection, but situational awareness is operationally critical for a Soldier to be able to communicate and hear what’s going on around him.”

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Army biologist developing next-generation tools for Soldiers


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army scientists are developing new technologies, including smartphones that detect and identify chemical and biological agents, to empower Soldiers.

Dr. Calvin Chue, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, is focused on the next generation of devices to protect Soldiers and civilians against unknown chemical or biological threats.

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Army engineers develop chargers for phones, laptops in combat

A team of U.S. Army engineers are developing new battery chargers for smartphones, tablet computers and laptops for deployed Soldiers without access to a traditional electrical grid. They have engineered and built prototypes for 8-port, 4-port, and 2-port USB chargers, as well as an AC/USB adapter — all of which use a military standard battery such as the BB-2590 as the main power source. The 150-watt USB/AC adaptor enables charging for a laptop and two smartphones.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soldiers deployed to remote locations around the world need a lightweight charger for electronic devices that are critical to successful missions in the 21st century.

A team of U.S. Army engineers are developing new battery chargers for smartphones, tablet computers and laptops to use when there is no access to a traditional electrical grid. The team has engineered and built prototypes for 8-port, 4-port, and 2-port USB chargers, as well as an AC/USB adaptor, all of which use a military standard battery such as the BB-2590 as the main power source.

Electronics engineer Yuk Chan and electronics technician Ron Thompson are leading the effort for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. They develop solutions for Soldiers as part of the Command, Power and Integration Directorate at RDECOM’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC.

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Army chemist provides expertise on unknown samples

Jennifer Exelby leads 10 chemical-agent handlers for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army scientists analyze unknown samples to determine whether hazardous chemical or biological warfare agents are present. Samples come from around the world.

Jennifer Exelby, a chemist, leads 10 chemical-agent handlers for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC.

“I never would have thought that I would be working with chemical warfare materials,” said Exelby, who serves as the acting chief of the Chemical Operations Branch. “This is a world that I didn’t even know existed until I got the job at ECBC.”

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Protection from biological agents is Army scientist’s mission

Dr. Mary M. Wade serves as acting chief of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s BioDefense Branch.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Biological agents remain a persistent threat to America and its Soldiers. U.S. Army scientists are researching new technologies to counter bioweapons in order to keep the nation safe.

Mary M. Wade, a supervisory biologist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, described her team’s work in the areas of detection and decontamination.

“Biodefense research is vital to continuing to protect the warfighter and the nation from potential threats,” Wade said. “We have to be ready. We have to be able to respond, counter threats, and detect threats.”

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Army, Chilean officials discuss research, development cooperation

Robert Kristovich (right), research chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, explains his work at RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to the visiting Chilean Army officers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Sept. 26.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 27, 2012) — Three Chilean Army officers visited the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Sept. 24-26, to learn about its science and technology capabilities for potential collaboration between the countries.

The Chilean officers, Brig. Gen. Ricardo Martinez Menanteau, Col. Juan Guerra Bazaes and Col. Luis Araya Cano, toured RDECOM’s three research and engineering centers at Aberdeen Proving Ground — the Army Research Laboratory, known as ARL; Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. 

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Aberdeen Proving Ground leaders discuss vision for STEM education outreach


About 400 middle and high-school school students from Harford and Cecil counties explored Army technology, Sept. 23, 2011, during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Educational Outreach Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.


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.

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Scientist begins Army career, protects nation against chemical warfare agents


Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, handles, synthesizes, purifies and destroys chemical agents.


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.

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Army scientist recalls six decades of inquiry, breakthroughs

Harry Salem serves as chief scientist of life sciences for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — After more than 60 years as a researcher, educator and mentor, Harry Salem remains committed to advancing the field of science in the U.S. Army.

Salem’s talents and expertise led to an already distinguished career spanning three decades in pharmacology and toxicology — including the development of the cold and cough remedies NyQuil and Contac as well as the extended-wear soft contact lens Permalens — all before joining the Army as a civilian scientist in 1984.

In his current role as the chief scientist of life sciences, Salem oversees and guides research efforts at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. He has recently created a Center of Excellence for Stem Cell Research, recruiting 12 post-doctoral students to help embark on his vision.

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Army promotes science, technology opportunities to Harford students

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

BEL AIR, Md. — Eighth-grade students explored emerging global-mapping software and DNA extraction with U.S. Army scientists May 24 to boost their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM education.

The Army, technology manufacturers and universities joined about 180 eighth-graders from nine Harford County middle schools. The scientists showcased the array of career opportunities in STEM fields as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College.

Lanie Wallace, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, led students through a hands-on demonstration of extracting DNA from a strawberry. She explained the range of applications for DNA research, including medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural.

Mary Doak, ECBC’s community and educational outreach manager, said the country needs students to pursue STEM careers because a large number of scientists and engineers are nearing retirement age.

At ECBC, 44 percent of employees are eligible for retirement within 10 years, Doak said. The Department of Defense has 35,000 scientists, 56 percent of whom can retire within eight years.

Wallace, who attended Edgewood middle and high schools, has started work on a doctorate degree, which is paid for by the DoD through the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program.

Doak encouraged the students to pursue DoD-sponsored scholarships and internship programs, including SMART; Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Sciences, or GEMS; Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SEAP; and eCYBERMISSION.

Matt Sparaco, a computer scientist with U.S. Army Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, demonstrated the Command and Control Multitouch Enabled Technology, or COMET, to Patterson Mill Middle School students.

The COMET is a large touchscreen computer that can be mounted vertically to a wall or set up horizontally like a table. Sparaco said CERDEC is developing software to track Soldier patrols, detect enemy fire and view damage from natural disasters.

Students explored the COMET by locating local landmarks using the mapping feature to create fictional scenarios.

Sparaco said researchers are also hoping to add facial-recognition software to allow Soldiers to take a photo with a smartphone or tablet and identify potential enemies. He said the Army plans to transition the software to flexible displays that Soldiers will wear on their uniforms during combat operations.

Army S&T team develops power, energy solutions in Afghanistan

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army’s science and technology command center in Afghanistan is unburdening Soldiers by improving power and energy capabilities in theater.

Michael Zalewski, a mechanical engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, deployed to Bagram Airfield from September 2011 to February 2012. He supported Operation Enduring Freedom by reducing the logistics burden of fuel on Soldiers.

Zalewski served as the power and energy subject matter expert for the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, which brings civilian engineers and technicians to a central location to provide scientific solutions directly in theater.

“These technologies [unburden] the Soldier from the logistics tail of fuel supplies. There are correlations between fuel convoys and casualties,” he said. “This unburdens them from having to worry about their fuel supply.

“It enables them to focus more on their immediate mission and less on logistics.”
RFAST-C became fully operational in December 2011 at the 401st Army Field Support Brigade.


Zalewski’s primary task at RFAST-C was the Energy Initiative Proving Ground, which focused on bringing combat-ready technologies from RDECOM’s seven research and engineering centers into the field. He tested and validated these technologies.

“The largest impact that I had was bringing forward the shovel-ready technologies, which were able to make an immediate impact on Soldiers’ lives in the field,” said Zalewski, who has worked at RDECOM’s Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center for seven years. “Not only being able to bring this technology forward, but being able to bring back the firsthand understanding of the needs and requirements of the user.”

The Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs funded the Energy Initiative Proving Ground as a three-part effort, he said.

The first part is to reduce energy demand through advanced environmental control units or increasing the thermal resistance of shelters to provide lower heating and cooling loads. The second is purifying water in the field instead of transporting bottled water. Renewable energy (solar panels) powered this process to reduce the logistics demands. The final part is insulating the semi-permanent wooden structures used as barracks with thermal insulation to reduce heating and cooling requirements.


The RFAST-C also supported the Afghan Microgrid Project, which was led by Project Manager Mobile Electric Power, the military’s procurement and support agency for electric power generation on tactical battlefields.

Microgrids are designed to provide power independently of traditional grids and to integrate multiple sources of energy for use and storage.

Through AMP, the Army demonstrated an intelligent grid of generators and power distribution so that power production could be accurately and dynamically matched to the demand, Zalewski said.

“It was a natural fit for RDECOM to provide an engineer to support the PM MEP effort overseas due to our extensive background in developing microgrid technologies, renewable energy technologies, and power distribution,” he said.

AMP incorporates technologies being deployed to theater. This includes small-scale renewable energies in the 3- to 5-kilowatt range with solar panels and energy-storage devices, as well as larger microgrid technologies such as the Load-Demand Start-Stop system, which networks legacy generators to form a microgrid.

Zalewski assumed oversight of AMP’s 1-megawatt microgrid for PM MEP, which was unable to continue supporting the project directly. This system demonstrated a 17 percent reduction in fuel consumption, an 85 percent reduction in generator operating hours, and 67 percent lower maintenance costs.

Before redeploying, he transferred oversight and operation of the microgrid to his replacement, Gregory Dogum, Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity.


By interacting with Soldiers and fellow scientists for six months at Bagram Airfield, Zalewski said he gained a greater understanding of technology and engineering requirements.

“Some of the greatest value from my deployment was [bringing] back many lessons learned and insight from the field,” he said. “Sgt. Maj. Matt De Lay, the RFAST-C noncommissioned officer-in-charge, conducted an extensive series of battlefield circulations covering all the regional commands in Afghanistan. Using the knowledge and information he gathered, I provided engineering insight and analysis back to RDECOM.

“I was able to identify users’ needs and gaps. [I was able] to get firsthand user feedback on the technologies that we’re developing, bring this home, plug it into our R&D developments, and provide this feedback to the engineers developing future technology.”

RDECOM senior NCO discusses command’s support in Afghanistan

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.”

Army scientists develop deployable renewable-energy solutions


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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.

Improved batteries, SWIPES to lighten Soldiers’ load


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.”


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.


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.”


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.

RDECOM senior NCO discusses support for Soldiers

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.

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.


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.”

With combat experience, NCOs offer insight to engineers

Richard Cox, Harbor Defense Museum Curator, briefs Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command about cannon used in defense of New York harbor. The trip was part of professional development training.

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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RDECOM recognizes NCO, Soldier of the Year

 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.


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.”


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.”

Four RDECOM Soldiers vie for command honors

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.

New command sergeant major assumes role at RDECOM

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command introduced its new senior noncommissioned officer to the community March 16.
Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert O. Beharie assumed duties as the leader of RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers during a Change of Responsibility ceremony at the Post Theater. About 150 Soldiers and Army civilian employees welcomed Beharie to RDECOM and APG.


Beharie takes over from Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin. The Army promoted Marin to the rank of command sergeant major in 1999, and he has served as RDECOM’s senior NCO since Aug. 5, 2007.

A native of Honduras who moved to New York City at age 10, Marin enlisted in September 1981. He described his journey from a child through his three decades as a Soldier stationed across the globe.

“My journey began a long time ago when I first got to this great country. I felt a sense of duty immediately,” Marin said. “I wanted to give back to this nation for what was given to me — an opportunity to get an education, an opportunity to live free in a democratic country, a place where opportunities to excel are endless, an opportunity to serve and sacrifice for the good of all citizens of this nation. I joined the Army as part of this sense of duty. I wanted to ensure those who came before me who may have lost their lives did not do so in vain.

“As a young boy living in Honduras, I used to chase helicopters down the street. I was very fascinated by that piece of machinery. I always wondered, ‘How can something like that hang up in the sky and fly?’ So when I entered the United States and began my studies in New York, I had my eyes on becoming an aviator. Through hard work, perseverance and encouragement from family, I managed to meet the qualifications to enter the Army as an aviator. Here I am today.”

Marin thanked his fellow NCOs for their efforts to interact with RDECOM’s scientists and engineers to ensure the success of the command’s mission to empower, unburden and protect Soldiers.

“Since my arrival here, I quickly got engaged with our noncommissioned officers to ensure we understood our role in providing our engineers and scientists with relevant feedback to assist with the development of new technology and delivering it to the hands of Warfighters,” Marin said. “Our noncommissioned officers have a vital role in making sure that RDECOM is technology driven and always Warfighter focused.”


Beharie will lead the command’s 80 enlisted Soldiers at its APG headquarters and seven research centers with offices around the world. The command sergeant major serves as the principal adviser to the director in enlisted matters. He is responsible for the training, professional development, retention, readiness and discipline of Soldiers under his charge.

Beharie said he has been impressed by the passion of RDECOM scientists and engineers to support those in uniform.

“I have had some great opportunities to serve over my military career. However, serving as RDECOM sergeant major is a dream job,” Beharie said. “This organization and its professional workforce touch the lives of all the men and women in the Armed Forces, as well as our nation.

“Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit some of our labs and meet some of our men and women who work tirelessly to give our troops the fighting edge on the battlefield. I was blown away by the technology that they have developed and are currently working on.”

Beharie will report to RDECOM Director Dale Ormond, who replaced Maj. Gen. Nick Justice as the organization’s senior leader Feb. 10. Ormond thanked Marin for his dedication to the Army, RDECOM and Soldiers.

“What a terrific story of Command Sergeant Major Marin. [He is] a terrific Soldier and a leader of Soldiers,” Ormond said. “He wanted to give back for the opportunities that America gave him. He has connected our scientists and engineers to the Soldiers, communicating with Soldiers and talking to them about what their real issues, challenges and needs are. [He made] sure that was funneled back into us so that we have that connection to what is going on in theater.

“[He made] tremendous personal efforts to stand up the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. He helped put in place how we as RDECOM solve materiel [problems] at the point of need.”

In one of his first official duties, Beharie will oversee RDECOM’s annual Noncomissioned Officer/Soldier of the Year Competition at APG March 26 to 31. Five enlisted Soldiers will compete in a physical fitness test, weapons range, land navigation, obstacle course, 12-mile ruck march, essay and written exam, media interviews, and board appearance.

Beharie has served as the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade’s command sergeant major at Fort Campbell, Ky., since April 2009. He enlisted in 1986 and has four combat tours in the Persian Gulf.

Beharie and his wife, Sabrina, have three children.