ADELPHI, Md. - The Army's top scientists and technologists convened here today to develop a strategy on multiple issues and to chart their future support to the Warfighter as the Research, Development and Engineering Command Technology Planning Conference got underway.

Major Gen. Nick Justice, the RDECOM commanding general, challenged the senior scientists and technologists to focus on what they're doing.

"We make a difference with everything we touch," Justice said in his welcoming comments, drawing the 300 attendees' attention to the Army Force Generation model. "We need to raise our shot group and focus on where we're going, too.

"Let's focus on the Warfighter - that's the vision of our headquarters," he added, citing RDECOM's motto, 'Technology Driven, Warfighter Focused.'

"The ARFORGEN model is a radical new way of doing business for us, and we need to understand it. There are more implications in the ARFORGEN model than anything we've done in 50 years," Justice continued. "It drives us to do things - to equip our forces, to train our forces and get them ready to go."

The Army Research Laboratory is hosting the two-day conference. Senior scientists and technologists from the command were to make presentations. Justice asked them to be the Army's "Honest Broker" for technology development when doing so.

"We want to get to those common denominators for quality improvement," he said, addressing command synchronization. "We need a common operating picture so you know everything I know. We have to ask ourselves, 'Am I synchronized with what the Army is doing'' Are you 'Technology driven. Warfighter focused''

"We need to talk about the framework, talk about what you're doing. Don't just market what you're doing, do the self critique, engage in integration focused engineering discussions. We need this. Our Warfighters lives depend on it," he said.

"You're a product of what you learn in Kindergarten," Justice said, turning to his personal brand of humor, adding, "and recess was my most important subject," which was met with gales of laughter.

"We all come from certain disciplines and backgrounds," he continued, "and our switches are all set to that. So we need you to do what academics do best - peer-review assessments, self-critiques and critiques of what we do. It's the only way we're going to get better and take better care of the Warfighter.

"The Army is a very high-tech place, and our most precious resource is the youth of our country. We have to shape, early on, how to bring technology into our infrastructure."

Justice's last slide was a photo of a room of noncommissioned officers entitled, 'NCOs lead the way.'

"I love this photo," Justice said. "It's a group of our NCOs taken at our last NCO Professional Development session at the Simulation Training and Technology Center in Orlando.

"You want to know what that room full of NCOs is looking at'" Justice asked.

"They're looking at you," he said, pointing to the Army's leading scientists and technologists.

Justice introduced the luncheon speaker, Dr. Tom Killion, Assistant Secretary of the Army Director for Science and Technology, who informed everyone he would soon step down after serving seven years in that position.

Killion opened is address by referring to a Dilbert cartoon whose punch line read, "There's no need to have a strategy if you don't intend to follow it." He then charged his audience with the importance of having a strategy.

"Support the future," he said. "Look at the opportunities to look at the technology and support the systems we have today. You need to support the Soldier today and tomorrow.

"Whenever you can, take advantage of the smart people who understand technology and how it can be applied," Killion continued. "Our job has multiple dimensions, and to accomplish them we have to have a strategy that encompasses a multitude of issues.

"We need to partner with people who own programs who may need our help to incorporate them into the systems," he said.

"We need to sustain the family of S&T here with us today. We have the smartest scientists and engineers ever, people who understand the Army, who understand the Army's problems and who can find the solutions to these problems.

"We have to create and sustain excitement in our young people," Killion stressed. "The way we do that is for people like yourselves to interact with our youth, to talk to classrooms of science students, so they will understand how exciting S&T is.

"Or we can just get General Justice to talk to them," he good naturedly joked.

"It has been a privilege and honor to provide leadership to this group," Killion continued. "Your commitment to science, to technology, and to the Soldier have sustained me, and you need to sustain that. It's essential for the young men and women who wear the uniform."