ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Research, Development and Engineering Command welcomed 34 new civilian employees with a newcomer's briefing Feb. 4 at the Edgewood Conference Center. The event gave unit leaders an opportunity to explain the RDECOM mission and set up new employees for success.

"Welcome to the Research, Development and Engineering Command," RDECOM Chief of Staff Col. John Kilgallon told the group. "We create, integrate and deliver technology-enabled solutions to our Soldiers."

The chief gave a complete overview of the RDECOM mission, resources, processes and vision for the future. "We win wars by outclassing the enemy," Kilgallon said. "You are now part of the never-ending battle for the high ground. Every one of us at RDECOM is focused on that goal. You all are part of the Army's effort to defend the nation."

The briefing detailed how Army labs and research centers are integrated within RDECOM. "We're primarily a civilian organization of 17,000 engineers, scientists and researchers, and the employees to support them," Kilgallon said.

The chief explained how RDECOM is spread out across the United States, as well as forward offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Australia, Singapore and Japan. The command also positions science and technology advisors with U.S. Army commands in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We have to be smart all the time and know what's going on in the world," Kilgallon said. "RDECOM forward elements are basically technology scouts. We learn a lot from all over the world."

As part of the process, RDECOM engages in external partnerships, such as academia, industry, international interagency. "You may have heard about the recent partnership agreement between RDECOM and the University of Delaware," Kilgallon said. "This is an example of how we work closely with external partners to get the best technology."

Each staff section representative briefed their core functions to the new employees. The group was a diverse gathering of brand-new civilian employees and long-time civil servants, many with military experience, many without.

"I've been with RDECOM for six months," said John Wright, a logistics specialist. "The briefing was very beneficial because it presented all aspects of RDECOM presented in one packaged orientation brief. It gave me a great understanding of the overall mission."

With thousands of jobs coming to Aberdeen Proving Ground in the next couple of years during the Base Realignment and Closure process, officials said there is a need to provide a solid foundation for newcomers. Currently RDECOM is advertising more than 100 open jobs for scientists, engineers and support personnel.

Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Belmonte organized the four-hour orientation session. "We look forward to hearing feedback from people who attended," he said. "Initial comments are positive." Belmonte said the next orientation will be in April. He encouraged employees to participate in online discussions at milBlog. The internal blog is accessible with a common-access card, or AKO username and password.

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