ARL Hosts 2010 RDECOM Technology Planning Conference at ALC
May 13, 2010
U.S. Army plans to prototype next-generation technology intended for the battlefield misses the mark if done without Soldier input, Maj. Gen. Nickolas Justice said May 19 to an audience of scientists, researchers and technology experts.
Justice, commanding general of the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), set the tone for the two-day 2010 Technology Planning Conference, held at the headquarters of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md. RDECOM is centrally responsible for developing and integrating technology-enabled solutions for Soldiers. ARL is the Army's corporate laboratory for basic and applied scientific research.
More than 350 by-invitation-only government and contracted employees are attending this year's conference, which serves as a forum to ensure that RDECOM science and technology efforts are formulated to produce maximum Warfighter benefit.
"We are not in the business of consumer electronics; we are in the business of equipping combat formations," Justice noted.
Too often, Army senior scientific and technology expertise is not considered enough when program managers and executives "promise to deliver" technology-based products, Justice said. Solving this problem, he said, starts with conference attendees serving as "honest brokers" that not only critique the strengths and weaknesses of research efforts but also leverage peer-reviewed solutions that create balanced and fair assessments of maturing technologies and their applicability to Army operations.
He said RDECOM's efforts must bring "clarity to the minds of senior leadership who are going to make decisions to bring capabilities to the Warfighter." But Warfighter input, he stressed, is as much a requirement as is science and technology expertise.
"(Non-commissioned officers) lead the way. They are experienced, they know what they're talking about and they are getting plugged into these research efforts," said Justice, who began his 38-year Army career as an enlisted Soldier.
This annual conference is designed to engage the Command's customer and stakeholder communities, and to highlight efforts of the Technology Focus Teams and System Integration Domains, which together leverage research, development and engineering capacity and knowledge across the command and ensure maximum utilization of S&T investments.
Major focus areas for this year's conference were Ground Combat Vehicle Demonstrator; the Army's Joint Multi-Role Rotorcraft modernization plan; and the Army's Training and Doctrine Commmand's (TRADOC) Big 5 Warfighter Objectives, which are Battle Command, Counter IED, Human Dimension, Power & Energy, and Training. During the first day of this conference, RDECOM officials outlined its intent to build a Ground Combat Vehicle Demonstrator and discussed efforts to collaborate across the command to map out a science and technology portfolio to support the project. Dr. Thomas Killion, deputy assistant secretary for Research and Technology and chief scientist, was the luncheon guest speaker.
On the second day, the group received an overview of RDECOM portfolio investments that include programs within and outside of Army Technology Objectives and Small Business Innovation Research projects. These projects were mapped to the TRADOC's Big 5 Warfighter Objectives. Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center, was guest luncheon speaker.