ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND -- In comparison to meetings, responding to e-mail and fulfilling everyday duties, a professional development forum may not sound very important.

The second Research, Development and Engineering Command Professional Development Forum, or PD Forum, was held at Aberdeen Proving Ground, 28-30 Aug, with nearly twice as many attendees as last year.

Nearly 200 attendees participated in this year's forum, which focused on: threats to the warfighter, global collaboration and experimentation, operationalizing RDECOM and support to the Army's modernization priorities.

Jeff Salamone, operations analyst in G3 Future Operations, organized the PD Forum. "We were glad participants understood the importance of attending this year. The venue change to the Mallette Training Facility mirrored the Army Future's Command concept of a more collegiate work atmosphere."

Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone, RDECOM deputy to the commanding general, began the forum with an RDECOM overview brief, answering 'What is RDECOM?"

"We received feedback in passing and participants had a better understanding of who we are, why we're here, what we look like as a command," Salamone said.

On the second day, Dr. Philip Perconti, director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, explained how RDECOM has operationalized S&T to achieving outcomes and meet the Army's modernization strategy. "What is the outcome that, we, as a command are trying to derive from all of this investment, all this knowledge and all this time. If we don't focus on outcomes, then we've missed it because that's what operationalizing S&T means."

The second day highlighted the importance of the international teams within the command. RDECOM's international program includes Foreign Liaison Officers, known as FLOs. Two FLOs currently support RDECOM at APG Headquarters -- Mr. Stephan Boehmsdorff, Germany, and Lt. Col. Hamish John Ashman, Australia.

As international officials authorized by their governments, both Boehmsdorff and Ashman share information between their countries and the U.S. to help maintain interoperability and diminish duplicity among R&D efforts.

One outcome from the forum was the consensus that RDECOM internal communication needs to be stronger and more transparent across the command, including the international program.

The PD Forum ended with Sgt. Maj. Taylor, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, hosting a panel with five NCOs who discussed the Army's modernization strategy and ways that civilians and contractors can work with the NCOs to support leadership, which will ultimately benefit the U.S. Army.

Collaboration and partnership are two words that describe all three days of the forum well.

"I think it went really well and was a stark improvement from last year. The teamwork involved is so important because I know it's an opportunity for the participants to grow in support of the Army's vision," Salamone said. Salamone added that one change he would like to make next year is more emphasis on displaying RDECOM technologies and less emphasis on PowerPoint.

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The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.