TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Noncommissioned officers from U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command convened here June 14-18 to conduct professional development training and to view the processes and procedures of the Department of Defense's premier depot operation.

Sgt. Maj. Kelvin Spencer, Tobyhanna Army Depot's senior enlisted advisor, was honored that RDECOM NCOs chose to come to the depot.

"Everyone here at Team Tobyhanna really enjoyed RDECOM's visit and we look forward to a continuing partnership in supporting the Warfighter, which is Number One for Tobyhanna," Spencer said.

"It's rewarding anytime we get the opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities with regards to C4ISR Sustainment," Spencer continued.

"We also demonstrate our capabilities to repair and overhaul, manufacture, fabrication, computer assisted design, those kinds of things. "If you're out in the battlefield you can never have that piece of equipment that's perfect for the Warfighter," he added.

"So if there's an opportunity to bring in one of our partners where we can benchmark and leverage opportunities to make it better for the Warfighter, then that's what we do."

Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, REDCOM senior enlisted advisor, said understanding depot operations is important for members of the command. He also stressed the importance of professional development.

"We have a lot of new people," Marin said as he addressed the 40 NCOs in attendance, "and it's important all of you know what we do here in RDECOM. This is not an easy command to get your head around."

Marin said the headquarters would soon initiate a one-day NCO academy, mandatory training for all newly assigned Soldiers, to help them understand the organization, its mission and how to act as NCOs within their own organizations.

"There are a lot of new faces and I welcome you to the command," Marin said. "I know it's a bit weird. RDECOM is a part of the Army that you're not used to, but we're going make sure you get straight and get settled.

"Here's the command's vision," Marin said, pointing to one of three slides he used. "Our vision is to be the Army's primary source for integrated research, development and engineering capabilities.

"It's important that we let you know up front, rather than through trial and error, so that you understand what RDECOM is all about," Marin continued. "We owe that to you and I think it's critical.

"What is most is critical to me is what you know as NCOs about this command. And not just RDECOM, but the entire materiel enterprise," he added. "You need to understand AMC (Army Materiel Command), ASA (ALT) (Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology)), PMs (program managers) and PEOs (program executive officers), and the role they play so that you understand your technical role in support of the Warfighter.

"I'm concerned, because I go around and ask questions, and some people are engaged and some are not. I want to make sure that you're here and that you are contributing to the fight," Marin stressed.

"We need a minimal NCO certification program. It took a year for me to understand this command... that's why these NCOPDs came about. We set our NCOPDs up so by the end of the first year our NCOs understood the acquisition process.

"Some of them pick it up pretty quick," he said. "But it's like drinking through a fire hose and you have to pick it up quick."

Marin said the command needs a process to track NCO readiness.

"What I'm talking about is knowing the acquisition process in the materiel enterprise. You're not going to be an acquisition officer - that's their job , their career, and I don't expect you to be that smart. But you need to understand the process.

"The focus is on the Warfighter - that's what we do here. Everything we do as NCOs is to empower, unburden and protect the Warfighter to enable the dominance of the Army.

"You have to ask yourself, 'What am I doing in this command'' 'What value added am I to the command'' If you can't answer the question, then we failed you and I failed you as a leader," Marin said. "If you cannot trace what your role is and what role you play to support the Warfighter, we're all messed up.

"When an NCO tells me he's not being challenged and doesn't have a lot to do, there's a problem, a serious problem, and we gotta fix it," he continued. "If you're not engaged in the fight, then I will engage you and put you in the fight. That's what we're here to do.

"Those Soldiers -- those men and women who are deployed - are the reason we're here. This is not a party... this is serious business for the nation. We can't afford to lose."

Before taking questions, Marin offered his personal conviction to the mission.

"I'm in combat 24-7 as long as I'm wearing this uniform. 24-7. And I know where the fight's up on the front line. Everybody tracking'"