U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command scientists and engineers are stationed around the globe to explore international collaboration opportunities in scientific research and technology development, opportunities that will potentially close capability gaps for the U.S. Army.

Three regional RDECOM organizations represent this international endeavor:

* RDECOM-Atlantic

* RDECOM-Americas

* RDECOM-Pacific

From basic science to insights on maturing technology, foreign research contributes to the development of U.S. products and provides solutions that improve American capabilities.

Founded in 2004, RDECOM-Americas, headquartered in Santiago, Chile, is the newest and smallest of the three forward element commands.

Like RDECOM-Atlantic and RDECOM-Pacific, RDECOM-Americas has direct roots in the Standardization Program, specifically with its Ottawa, Canada, office.

RDECOM-Americas has 12 people assigned: four in Santiago; two in Buenos Aires and two in Ottawa; and one person each at NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, ARNORTH and ARSOUTH.

RDECOM-Americas is part of the U.S. mission and executes its program to meet Army goals in the context of broader U.S. government goals as articulated in the U.S. Embassy strategy.

The three offices in partner nations are located within the U.S. mission, which ties its activities tightly with those of other executive-branch agencies (including the Air Force Office of Aerospace Research and Development and the Office of Naval Research -- Global, which also have regional offices in Santiago).

Venues for synchronization include joint commission meetings (executive agency level bi-lateral meetings organized by the State Department and the partner nation Ministry of Foreign Affairs), bi-lateral working groups (high level meetings between the Office of the Secretary of Defense, COCOMs, and partner nation equivalents), and staff talks (U.S. Army Component Commands and partner nation armies).

The portfolio consists of visitor and subject matter expert visits and exchanges, workshops, and seed projects. The portfolio is balanced across subject areas and partner nations in a manner similar to that of a venture capitalist.

RDECOM-Americas studies a partner nation of interest by qualitatively determining three characteristics for both S&T and TSC support: capacity, capability and the willingness to engage.

Canada shares in the common defense of North America through the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The office in Ottawa conducts S&T search at defense laboratories, globally-ranked universities and innovative industries.

Two innovative industries found by ITC-Canada are Mawashi Protective Clothing, Inc., and Medicago, Inc.

Mawashi designs protective clothing based on biomimetics, the study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials and machines. Their research in strong but light structures that exist in insects (exoskeletons), mammals (horns), and sea life (shells) has led to innovations in helmet design and armor. Mawashi research is under review by RDECOM, PEO Soldier and special operations forces.

Medicago is developing biotechnologies to produce vaccines and enzymes in a species of the tobacco plant. The vaccines can be produced rapidly and the process of making them does not result in allergic reactions in the recipient. An ITC-Canada seed project with Medicago four years ago led to the development of an enzyme which may speed up the conversion of biomass (seaweed) to butanol in a proposed sustainable energy project between the U.S. and Chilean navies.

The government, economy and people of Chile have undergone dramatic change over the past few decades. The successful transition to a democratic government has enabled a vibrant Chilean economy, referred to as "The Miracle of Chile" by Nobel laureate economist Martin Friedman.

As a result, Williams said, there have been many exchange visits between S&T leaders, seven Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program assignments (five from the U.S. to Chile and two from Chile to the U.S.), an exchange agreement, and workshops in power and energy and extreme condition operations.

Columbian areas of expertise are: soldier protection, CIED and de-mining, tropical diseases, jungle and high humidity physiology, riverine warfare, communications in the jungle and mountains, and the use of small UAVs that can operate through and above a jungle canopy, Williams explained.

The ITC taps into this creativity through S&T search at universities and industries in Colombia.

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RDECOM-Americas is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.