DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. (Oct. 24, 2014) -- Communicating the Research, Development and Engineering Command's internal and external research and development capabilities continues to be of vital importance as the command and its six research, development and engineering centers and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory seek to empower, unburden and protect our Soldiers.

To fulfill its mission, RDECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie hosted 44 non-commissioned officers Oct. 5-9 for five days of professional development training, camaraderie, mentoring and a unique opportunity to learn more about the Army installation for ground vehicle systems research, development, engineering, modeling and simulation, and testing ― Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan ― home to the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems and PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

The Soldiers, many of whom are combat veterans with multiple tours to the theater of operations, provide technical field expertise and operational input, and inform the respective RDEC engineers and technicians they work with on potential equipment, component and vehicle system improvements.

RDECOM employs nearly 16,000 civilian scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel whose mission is to create, integrate and deliver technology-enabled solutions to Soldiers. Because of their inherent expertise, the RDECOM NCOs are a part of that process.

The informative and challenging visit consisted of everything from taking the Army Physical Fitness Test, to receiving briefings, training, facility and capability tours. Specifically, the NCOs visited TARDEC's Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory ― seven unique laboratories, all under one roof, used to test and evaluate everything from individual component systems to any ground vehicle system in the Army inventory.

By focusing on specific systems and sub-systems, the NCOs were introduced to the lab capabilities that improve Soldier quality of life and safety when operating Army-supplied vehicle systems.

During the GSPEL tour, the NCOs received informative briefings from TARDEC subject-matter experts in the areas of thermal management and controls, propulsion systems, air filtration and vehicle cooling systems, electronic components, energy storage and fuel cells, and the Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Lab.

The next stop on the tour left an indelible impression on many of the NCOs. They got to see firsthand some of the vehicle systems they are quite familiar with being tested in TARDEC's Physical Simulation and Testing Lab. For many visitors, they were unaware of the extensive testing of Army systems that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that Army ground vehicles are extremely versatile, mobile, survivable and lethal on the modern battlefield.

TARDEC SMEs answered all of the questions the NCOs posed regarding such test and evaluation rigs as the Vehicle Inertial Properties Evaluation Rig, Suspension Parameter Identification Evaluation Rig and the Reconfigurable N-Post Motion Base Simulator, among others.

The next tour took place across campus in the Ground Vehicle Robotics Small Robot Lab. Here, SMEs discussed the importance of unmanned ground vehicle interoperability, robotic payloads (reduce the Soldier's physical burden) and controllers where the NCOs were able to physically operate several of the small robots on display.

The last stop on the lab tour was the TARDEC Center for Systems Integration prototyping facility. Here, they were introduced to Direct Metal Deposition Systems, also known as additive manufacturing, prototype integration computer-aided design modeling, chemical agent resistant coatings, towing and recovery systems, and ballistic-certified welding.

The training also included tours to historic Fort Wayne near downtown Detroit and the Henry Ford Museum, the epicenter of U.S. automotive history and innovation, in nearby Dearborn.

In addition to the tours, the NCOs were briefed on TARDEC's R&D capabilities and learned about promoting greater understanding of RDECOM's value to the U.S. Army.

"Our NCOs have to be engaged to ensure that we understand our role in providing engineers and scientists with relevant feedback to assist with the development of new technology for our warfighters," Beharie explained. "Our non-commissioned officers have a vital role in making sure that RDECOM is technology driven and always warfighter focused."

Beharie, RDECOM's senior enlisted adviser, said the training sessions help NCOs better understand how science enables the Soldiers' mission, and they get to learn first-hand how scientists and engineers develop the technologies that support them on the battlefield.

"When these Soldiers leave RDECOM and are assigned to operational units, they will take with them a new perspective about the Army. Being assigned to RDECOM widens their knowledge about the process of how technologies are integrated into Soldier systems," Beharie said.

The NCOPD locations rotate from RDEC-to-RDEC, and TARDEC had the privilege to host the October event.

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The Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center 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.