REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Supporting the Warfighter is the heart of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Which is why the center creates opportunities for team members to step away from their desk — or lab — and get a firsthand look at how Soldiers prepare for battle, oftentimes using AvMC-created and supported technology. Computer Scientist Robert Sacco recently had the opportunity to do just that when he participated in a professional development program that took him to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in San Bernadino County, California. The NTC is the U.S. Army’s training location for its armored brigade combat teams.
For Sacco, it was a career highlight. Even if he did have to drive through a sandstorm to get there.
“I flew into Vegas and then drove to Fort Irwin,” Sacco said. “Once I got out there, it was a mountainous desert area and then suddenly you come over the hill and here's this base.”
The NTC spans more than 1,200 square miles in the Mojave Desert. To witness live fires, Sacco and his tourmates were driven into what was known as the Sandbox. At NTC, training brigades face off against the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, or Blackhorse Regiment. In exercises, mimicking combat in foreign countries, those brigades learn how to work together in preparation for deployment.
Sacco said a highlight of the trip was witnessing the brigades use technology and programs that AvMC had spearheaded over the years — from radar to combat vehicles.
“I was able to see many combat vehicles while out in the Sandbox that our great workforce supports at (AvMC) for the Warfighter,” Sacco shared. “I was able to meet a unit operating a weapon system that was using a radar with our software, for which I am the government technical lead. It was great to be able to talk with the chief warrant officer in charge about how well the radar performed in the field. I also really enjoyed being able to see the live firing on the range and minefield clearing techniques while smoke screens were deployed to blind the opposition forces.”
Sacco unequivocally recommends that his fellow scientists and engineers take the opportunity to travel to the NTC, noting that it is one thing to create technology, but another to see firsthand how that technology is utilized in Soldiers’ hands.
“It really emphasized even more the job that we do in supporting the Warfighter, the Soldier and their mission in protecting us,” he said.
“What we do really matters when it comes to field operations.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development, and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.