Army scientist advances biometrics through UK exchange program

Dr. Kevin Leonard, a U.S. Army physicist, participated in the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program from August 2011 to July 2013. He worked at the UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory's Sensors and Countermeasures Department.

Dr. Kevin Leonard, a U.S. Army physicist, participated in the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program from August 2011 to July 2013. He worked at the UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory’s Sensors and Countermeasures Department.

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.

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http://go.usa.gov/W3kG

Signal Soldier “associate” provides real-time network diagnostics

The S-6 Associate software developed by CERDEC S&TCD aims to simplify building and monitoring the tactical network, diagnosing and addressing problems and ensuring each Soldier remains connected during critical moments. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Goodall)

The S-6 Associate software developed by CERDEC S&TCD aims to simplify building and monitoring the tactical network, diagnosing and addressing problems and ensuring each Soldier remains connected during critical moments. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Goodall)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 19, 2013) — As the number of electronic devices on the battlefield grows, so does the challenge of managing the network that links them together. Army researchers continue to work to create a better way to build and monitor the tactical network, diagnose and address problems, and ensure each Soldier remains connected during critical moments.

Engineers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, are developing software called S-6 Associate that will consolidate existing information, simplify network monitoring and better equip the network operations staff officer, commonly known as the S-6.

The software enhances already fielded systems like the battlefield network Warfighter Information Network — Tactical, known as WIN-T, Command Post of the Future mission command system, network management systems and Visio, the network image building program, said Josip Pilipovic, CERDEC Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate lead scientist for the S-6 Associate project.

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APG unveils center for STEM, education outreach

U.S. Army officials prepare to cut the ribbon of the Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM and Education Outreach Center July 30. From left: Col. Gregory McClinton, APG Garrison commander; Robert Carter, executive technical director of the Army Test and Evaluation Command; Dr. Thomas Russell, director of the Army Research Laboratory; Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and APG senior commander; Nicole Racine, a University of Maryland-Baltimore County sophomore; Dale Ormond, director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Jeffrey Singleton, director of basic research, laboratory management and educational outreach for the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; Suzanne Milchling, program integration director of the Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center; and Robert Zanzalari, associate director of the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.

 ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Aspiring scientists and engineers are now exploring their future careers at a unified APG facility dedicated to education outreach.

APG ushered in a new era of partnerships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for northeast Maryland with a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 30.

The APG STEM and Education Outreach Center brings tenant organizations together to pool resources that will enhance students’ experiences in scientific and engineering disciplines. The facility accommodates up to 200 students.

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http://go.usa.gov/jnM4

Conformal battery unburdens Army’s networked Soldiers

 

The Conformal Wearable Battery, which is shown being placed into a tactical vest, is flexible and conforms to the body. It provides more power, reduces the need for battery re-charging and spares, and serves as a single source of power for all worn electronic devices.

The Conformal Wearable Battery, which is shown being placed into a tactical vest, is flexible and conforms to the body. It provides more power, reduces the need for battery re-charging and spares, and serves as a single source of power for all worn electronic devices.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army is developing a battery to improve Soldiers’ agility on the battlefield while meeting the demands of an increased power burden stemming from new networked electronic devices.

The Conformal Wearable Battery is flexible and integrates into a Soldier’s body armor. It conforms to the body, which Army officials say is a significant upgrade to traditional batteries that are rectangular and bulky.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and Program Executive Office Soldier have partnered to fulfill the requirements of today’s networked Soldier with the CWB.

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http://go.usa.gov/j4yw

RDECOM shows off latest Army technology at Armed Forces Day

Leroy Stitz (left), an engineering assistant with RDECOM's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, explains advancements in the Army's protective masks to students during Armed Forces Day May 15 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Leroy Stitz (left), an engineering assistant with RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, explains advancements in the Army’s protective masks to students during Armed Forces Day May 15 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Local students, military veterans and APG community members inspected and explored the Army’s latest advancements in protective masks, body armor, ballistics protection and renewable energy at Armed Forces Day May 15.

Scientists and engineers of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command displayed their work to unburden, empower and protect Soldiers at the APG-North Recreation Center.

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http://go.usa.gov/TzRH

Demining efforts improve technology and safety of Thai borders

Mini MineWolf is a remote controlled earth tilling system capable of clearing mines that target both humans and vehicles and are buried in the ground to a depth of 25cm, or just under 10 inches. CERDEC NVESD HD R&D partnered with the Thailand Mine Action Center, or TMAC, for an operational field evaluation of the Mini MineWolf mine clearing system in an effort to remove mines along Thai borders.

Mini MineWolf is a remote controlled earth tilling system capable of clearing mines that target both humans and vehicles and are buried in the ground to a depth of 25cm, or just under 10 inches. CERDEC NVESD HD R&D partnered with the Thailand Mine Action Center, or TMAC, for an operational field evaluation of the Mini MineWolf mine clearing system in an effort to remove mines along Thai borders.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 13, 2013) — Landmines and unexploded ordnance are found throughout the world, often in peaceful countries leftover from conflict decades ago.

Researchers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, continued global humanitarian demining efforts, including a new yearlong project aimed to improve demining technology and increase border safety in Thailand that began March 29.

Members of CERDEC Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate, or NVESD, partnered with the Thailand Mine Action Center, or TMAC, for an operational field evaluation of the Mini MineWolf mine-clearing system to remove mines along Thailand’s borders.

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Army team spans globe for science, technology solutions

RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, engineers and technicians discuss prototype integration facility capabilities with senior noncommissioned officers from the 18th Engineer Brigade at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, engineers and technicians discuss prototype integration facility capabilities with senior noncommissioned officers from the 18th Engineer Brigade at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

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.

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http://go.usa.gov/T9Gd

 

Civilian engineering team secures Soldiers’ compound in Afghanistan

Members of the 1st Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, known as the 1-9 Cav, (left) stand in formation Feb. 25 during a ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in which certificates of appreciation were presented to four RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center personnel (right) who engineered, fabricated and installed force-protection enhancements at a combat outpost. RFAST-C members (from left): engineer Steve Roberts, equipment operator Jon-Luke DeStefano, engineering technician Robert Spetla, and executive officer Dan McGauley.

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.

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http://go.usa.gov/2YTF

Army ManTech Program bridges gap between lab and Soldier

Dr. Shawn Walsh (left), with Army Research Laboratory's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, explains ARL's investments in lighter, more efficient ballistic materials and defeat mechanisms to Gen. Dennis Via (center), Army Materiel Command commanding general, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Dec. 3, 2012. ARL and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center jointly executed an Army ManTech program to overcome the technology barriers associated with performing and rapid thermoforming of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene materials into complex shapes such as helmets.

Dr. Shawn Walsh (left), with Army Research Laboratory’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, explains ARL’s investments in lighter, more efficient ballistic materials and defeat mechanisms to Gen. Dennis Via (center), Army Materiel Command commanding general, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Dec. 3, 2012. ARL and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center jointly executed an Army ManTech program to overcome the technology barriers associated with performing and rapid thermoforming of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene materials into complex shapes such as helmets.

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].”

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http://go.usa.gov/4hPm

APG to launch centralized STEM education center

Harford County eighth-grade students explore science and engineering as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College on May 24, 2012. The Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May 2013.

Harford County eighth-grade students explore science and engineering as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College on May 24, 2012. The Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May 2013.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Maryland students will soon have a unified APG facility at which to explore the world of science and engineering with Army professionals.

The APG STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May, said Dr. Sandy Young, an Army Research Laboratory materials engineer. She is coordinating the project with ARL laboratory operations and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach offices on APG.

Young said the SEOC will allow multiple APG tenant organizations to pool their resources to benefit students’ experiences in science and engineering. The facility will accommodate up to 200 students.

Read more:

http://go.usa.gov/4u5H

 

Greater than the sum of its parts

Collectively, we’re the Lucius Fox for the U.S. Army.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Dale Ormond, director of RDECOM, stopped at Picatinny to deliver an important message. Click the link to find out what he had to say.

Click here to read more.

Army engineering team marks a year of solutions in theater

 

Daniel R. McGauley (left), executive officer of the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, describes a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station thermal imager protective cover that was designed and fabricated by the RFAST-C at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 15. McGauley briefs (from left) Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, deputy for acquisition and systems management at ASA (ALT); Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; and Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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.

To read more:

 http://go.usa.gov/4krY

RDECOM shares contracting opportunities at APBI

Jill Smith, acting deputy director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, discusses RDECOM’s partnerships with industry during the Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry conference at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Dec. 5.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command presented contracting opportunities Dec. 5 as part of APG’s first installation-wide Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry, or APBI, conference.

Jill Smith, RDECOM acting deputy director, provided an overview of the command and discussed how the Army’s research and development community partners with industry during her opening remarks at the Post Theater.

“Across the command, we leverage industry for about 40 percent of applied research funding,” Smith said. “RDECOM partners with industry for about 60 percent of RDECOM’s advanced technology development budget because that process involves integration, and we want industry to be prepared if we proceed to production in quantity.”

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http://go.usa.gov/gX5F

Army engineers design, build roadway threat detection system

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.

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http://go.usa.gov/gdGj

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.

Read more on Army.mil

Secretary of Defense tours RDECOM contributions to energy security

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta examines the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator Bravo at the Pentagon Oct. 4.

 WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta learned about the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s contributions to national energy security during a tour of exhibits at the Pentagon, Oct. 4.

Subject matter experts from three of RDECOM’s research centers — the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center; Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center — showcased the Army’s research on operational energy.

Read more on Army.mil

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. 

Read more on Army.mil

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.

DEPLOYING TECHNOLOGIES TO THEATER

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.

IMPLEMENTING INTELLIGENT POWER

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.

BRINGING SOLDIER FEEDBACK BACK INTO THE LAB

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.”