History, passion, tenacity and diversity of thought were key themes discussed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground Black History Month Celebration on February 15, 2022.
“Black Americans have left an indelible mark on history, on society and on our Army,” said Maj. Gen. Miles Brown, DEVCOM commanding general. “We have never fought a war when Black Soldiers did not serve proudly and honorably.”
The event, hosted by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, celebrated this historic role of black Americans in the Army and featured a panel of black innovators from APG discussing their experiences, challenges and opportunities in Army innovation.
The panel, moderated by Jeff Thomas, deputy director, DEVCOM Science & Technology Integration Directorate, included:
· Dr. Eric Moore, director, DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center.
· CW5 Linc McCoy, command chief warrant officer, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.
· Dr. Reygan Freeney, division chief, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, U.S Army Test and Evaluation Command.
· Rodney Morgan, mechanical engineer, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center.
The panel began with each panelist providing their personal definition of innovation.
“When I think about innovation, the first thing I ask myself is ‘how can I make things more efficient and sustainable while ensuring the need is met?’” McCoy said. “Innovation is about creating an original thought.”
For Rodney Morgan, innovation also requires a personal drive.
“Innovation is rooted in passion,” said Morgan. “When you think about improving a process or a technology you have to be passionate enough to create a driving force to see it through.”
The panelists noted that perseverance despite setbacks is an important part of innovation.
“If you look at folks who made great strides, they had perseverance despite the fact that they also failed,” Dr. Moore said. “Having the tenacity to push through, knowing in your heart that you have something truly unique, almost mystical, is one of the most important aspects.”
Dr. Freeney highlighted the value of self-awareness in innovative success.
“You are going to hear the naysayers. So, you have to be intentional with your plans,” Freeney said. “Knowing who you are, what you stand for, along with integrity and intention, will pull you through.”
Black History Month commemorates and celebrates the contribution of African Americans to our nation, society and culture. African American Soldiers and civilians have been an integral part of every aspect of the Army’s history including the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment of the Union Army, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Harlem Hell Fighters of World War I, and the civilians who supported World War II ordnance production at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, now part of Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The history of the Buffalo Soldiers, and their cavalry expertise, particularly resonated with Brown.
“When I think about Black History Month, I think about Buffalo Soldiers,” Brown said. “Buffalo Soldiers were among our finest cavalry formations of the Civil War, defending American ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
African Americans have also influenced Army innovation throughout history from war production to today’s modernization efforts. They continue to play vital roles in today’s Army as Soldiers and civilians. More than 190,000 African Americans serve in the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve, and approximately 14.9 percent of the Department of the Army civilian workforces is African American.
The Army is continually working to improve its culture and maintain a diverse force that represents America. A diverse workforce will enable the innovation, adaption and cultural understanding necessary to succeed in today’s complex environment.
As the Army recruits new Soldiers and civilians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics career fields, it must consider more than just diversity, equity and inclusion, Freeney added.
“You have to help young people see who they can become,” Freeney said. “When you think about diversity, you can’t just think about what people look like or what sex they are, you need to consider diversity of thought,” Freeney said.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, is home to thousands of the Army’s scientists, engineers, technicians, and analysts located around the globe that leverage cutting-edge technologies to empower the American Warfighter with the data and abilities to see, sense, make decisions and act faster than our adversaries – today and in the future.
As part of the Army Futures Command, Team DEVCOM takes risks to find new solutions every single day. Our experts drive innovation, improve existing technologies, and engineer solutions to technical limitations. Our work goes beyond theory to simulation and prototyping. We take potential S&T solutions from the lab “into the dirt” for experimentation alongside Soldiers. DEVCOM prides itself as a global ecosystem of innovators, from world-class universities and large defense contractors, to small minority-owned businesses and allied international partners.