ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 18, 2014) -- A team of U.S. Army Reserve officers is participating in Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2014 to engage with Soldiers about their technological needs.
Four officers from the U.S. Army Reserve Sustainment Command, Detachment 8, will deploy to South Korea for the annual exercise, which will run from today through Aug. 29. Two additional officers will support the exercise from here.
Col. Alan Samuels, who also participated in Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012, said the group's goal is to provide a link between Soldiers and the Army's scientists and engineers. He is an Army civilian who works as a research chemist with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.
"We try to understand where the challenges are and bring that information to [U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command] headquarters and ultimately to all of the labs," Samuels said. "As we go from year to year, we try to expand our reach. In one sense, we are representatives for the headquarters in the exercise. In another sense, we are out there to talk to Soldiers and understand what their challenges are with technology."
Common topics for Soldiers' questions include chemical and biological defense as well as the interoperability of communications systems between American and South Korean Soldiers.
The officers -- Col. John Olson, Samuels, Lt. Col. David Clark, Lt. Col. Bill Millette, Lt. Col. Ken Sikorsky and Maj. Aaron Vandiver -- are part of the 20-member detachment that supports the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. This is the fourth year of RDECOM's participation in this exercise via Detachment 8.
The Reserve detachment augments active-duty officers and Army civilians who serve as full-time Field Assistance in Science and Technology advisors.
Clark, also an Army civilian, is a general engineer with RDECOM's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. He has been with Detachment 8 for nine months, and said the assignment allows him to combine his technical skills and Reserve duty.
"I have a lot of academic and government skills. How can I apply this in an Army Reserve capacity? It's a really good marriage of my civilian skills and training and being able to apply it to help our Soldiers," Clark said.
Samuels said he is looking forward to applying his work as a chemist to discussions with Soldiers of 20th CBRNE Command, in Korea. His home organization, ECBC, focuses on developing technological solutions for the military's chemical and biological defense.
"There is a definite connection between mission sets of the Soldiers on the ground trying to execute and the scientists in the lab trying to develop technologies to support them," said Samuels, who has been assigned to Detachment 8 for six years. "We need to make sure we nurture that kind of engagement and offer opportunities for formalizing these types of roles."
While the group travels to Korea to serve as science and technology advisors for Soldiers stationed there, participating in a large exercise such as Ulchi Freedom Guardian allows the group members to maintain their operational capabilities, they said.
Sikorsky is a four-year veteran of Detachment 8 who will take part in his third Korean exercise in the past 12 months.
"Sending teams in theater is excellent simulated war-time training for us. We get familiarized with the theater by actually being there. We get to know the names, faces, units and places," he said.
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.