By Ms. Joyce M. Conant, ARLJuly 23, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 23, 2013) -- "People first, mission always," emphasizes Dr. Thomas P. Russell, director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, who took this phrase to heart as he visited each of the directorates and organizations within ARL.
Russell began his visits soon after becoming ARL's new director in March. He first visited with Laboratory Operations at the Adelphi Laboratory Center and the Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground. After each laboratory visit/tour, Russell held open town hall meetings giving each member of the directorate the opportunity to ask questions and get to know him and his vision for ARL.
"I think the most important thing to do is to learn about the organization," said Russell. "Many would start out visiting peers, but I wanted to spend the first couple of months to learn about the organization I am to represent."
In late March, Russell was back at APG to visit with the Human Research and Engineering Directorate. There he was able to personally meet several of the researchers and become familiar with some of HRED's varied and unique programs. Then in early April, he visited with the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate in Adelphi.
"I can already see that the research SEDD is involved with could one day lead to game changing technical advances for our Soldiers," said Russell.
Russell continued to learn more about the organization as he visited the Vehicle Technology Directorate and the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate in early-to-mid April. He said he appreciated the open and candid discussion he's had on how ARL can provide even better scientific and technical solution and analysis for future Soldiers.
"I was impressed again by the quality of research being conducted and the professionalism of those who are working some very difficult issues for the Army," said Russell. "We must continue to maximize the synergy of our talented scientists, engineers and laboratory support staff while maximizing the resources we have available."
Tours continued with visits to the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at APG and the Army Research Office at Research Triangle Park in N.C. Russell said that both organizations impressed him with the scope of the research programs they are involved in.
Russell traveled to White Sands Missile Range, N.M. to hear about the work that CISD and SLAD are doing for the Army at the Range and also to meet those in the Laboratory Operations Experimentation Support Group who provide the support to ongoing research and analysis efforts taking place each day.
May was another busy month for Russell. He traveled to Orlando, Fla., and spent time with researchers at the Simulation and Training Technology Center. Russell said he can now fully appreciate why STTC continues to be recognized as a leader in simulation technologies.
Russell wrapped up his visits by visiting Laboratory Operations at APG.
"My visit with Laboratory Operations was very informative and reinforced my understanding of the outstanding work they do in supporting our work at APG and the support they provide to the greater APG and northeastern Maryland areas," said Russell.
After completing the tours, Russell said he was truly impressed by how much diversity there is within ARL.
"There is far more diversity at ARL than other labs I have worked in," said Russell. "There are a lot more women and underrepresented groups across the workforce -- I found this to be refreshing."
Russell also indicated that what he first heard about ARL not being a high quality installation is not accurate.
"After going around and meeting people, I found ARL to be a far better organization than people know -- this impression is something we need to fix," said Russell. "We have great people doing great work!"
Russell said it is important to empower our workforce and to empower leadership.
"We need to have more trust in people and delegate back down at the appropriate levels in the organization," said Russell.
Russell said that ARL is a "diamond in the rough."
ARL is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.