By Dan Lafontaine, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering CommandDecember 5, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 5, 2013) -- The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command presented upcoming contracts Dec. 4 during APG's second annual Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry conference.
Mary Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, discussed the current state and the future of Army science and technology during her keynote speech at the APG Post Theater. She emphasized that the research and development community will serve a key role in shaping the Army's future after 12 years of war.
"It's important to understand the role of science and technology and the balance we have to strike. Our responsibility is to build the Army of the future, but we still need to take care of the Army that we currently have," Miller said. "Our balance has been changing as circumstances dictate. In the last decade of war, we have spent a lot of our time and thought equity helping the current force through urgent requirements and needs coming out of theater.
"We determined how to fix those problems that Soldiers have and give them critical solutions. As we're coming out of war, we're seeing the need to get back to our roots and look to the Army of the future."
The Army faces difficult choices in research, development and acquisition funding as the Department of Defense budget declines, Miller said. She presented a graphic that showed RDA funding as a percentage of total Army budgets for the past 65 years.
"Every time there is a spike, this is as we're going into an engagement. After we finish those engagements -- Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and now with [Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom] -- our investment accounts in research and technology seem to plummet," she said. "This creates an issue for those of us who are planning for the future. During a declining budget, how do we best spend that money? There are strategic choices that have to be made."
Miller gave the example of a robust commitment to science and technology in the 1980s when the Army developed the "Big 5" weapons systems -- Apache, Abrams, Bradley, Patriot and Multiple Launch Rocket System. A similar emphasis is now needed to ensure the Army's technology remains superior to America's adversaries, she said.
"That was a strategic decision by the Army leadership at the time to focus on five big things that would increase our capabilities," Miller said. "They kept that focus for a series of chiefs of staff of the Army.
You need that kind of enduring commitment to make sure those programs become a reality. We're starting right now to create that long-term persistent engagement that makes sure our plans really gain some traction."
Miller presented the Army's enduring challenges as areas for science and technology investment. These focus areas are: optimize Soldier's performance, eliminate tactical surprise, provide operational overmatch, provide operational maneuverability, operate in degraded visual and contested environments without degradation, improve operational energy, provide virtual on-demand training, and reduce life cycle costs.
Representatives from five of RDECOM's organizations -- Army Research Laboratory; Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; Edgewood Chemical Biological Center; Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center; Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center -- then discussed their forecasted business opportunities and priorities.
The command also provided presentations for the Army Manufacturing Technology and Small Business Innovation Research programs. RDECOM manages these programs on behalf of the Army.
APBI is taking place Dec. 2-6. APG Garrison and Corps of Engineers presented the first day; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, commonly known as C4ISR, presented second; research, development, test and evaluation on the third day; and chemical and biological defense on the final two days.
For more information on doing business with the command, go to the RDECOM Office of Small Business Programs' web site at http://www.rdecom.army.mil/SmallBusiness.
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 delivers it.