REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - For support to the warfighter, the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center was presented the Army Superior Unit Award here Sept. 23.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Developemnt and Engineering Command, affixed the Army Superior Unit Award streamer to the RDECOM colors and spoke to the AMRDEC work force about their role in the command's mission and vision.

"This is about history, about heritage and about setting expectations and standards," Justice said. "This is pretty unusual. You don't see civilian organizations or primarily civilian organizations in the U.S. Army getting these kinds of awards or recognitions. That tells you how valuable this is."

The Army Superior Unit Award was established by the Secretary of the Army on April 8, 1985, to recognize outstanding meritorious performance of a unit during peacetime, of a difficult and challenging mission under extraordinary circumstances. Those circumstances may be deemed to be extraordinary when they do not represent the typical day-to-day circumstances under which the unit normally performs, or may reasonably be expected to perform, its peacetime missions.

"The award is not the culmination of the event. We are challenged to become more innovative and dedicated in everything we do," Justice said.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2007, RDECOM and its subordinate research centers and laboratories developed nine of the top 10 Army's greatest inventions of 2007 and, more importantly, developed and accelerated numerous technology and engineering solutions to critical war fighter needs saving countless lives on the battlefield.

"The Army Superior Unit Award is presented to AMRDEC for equipping active duty combat units with the tools to enable them to perform with extraordinary valor in battle," AMRDEC deputy director Col. John Oxford said.

RDECOM meets the commitment to the Army by developing technologies in laboratories and RDECs, along with technologies developed in partnership with an extensive network of academic, industry and international partners.

"I think this is a true testament to the incredible work force we have within the AMRDEC, from the efforts at the Aeroflightdynamics Directorate on the West Coast to the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate on the East Coast and all points in between, to include Colorado Springs and the entire Redstone Arsenal team," AMRDEC director Eric Edwards said.

AMRDEC developed two of the Army's top 10 greatest inventions of 2007: the Unmanned Aircraft System Shadow 200 Communications Relay System and the Reconnaissance Vehicle System.

"We receive no higher recognition than that which comes from the warfighter community and we were deeply honored to receive Army's Greatest Invention awards for both the Reconnaissance Vehicle System and the Unmanned Aircraft System Shadow 200 Communications Relay System," Patricia Martin, director of AMRDEC's Engineering Directorate, said. "More importantly, we were ecstatic that we were successful in providing products to theater that gave the Soldier better improvised explosive device detection and communications capabilities essential to Soldier safety and mission success."

RDECOM empowers, unburdens and protects America's war fighters, which enables the dominance of the Army on the world's battlefields. They do this by creating, integrating and delivering technology-enabled solutions to the Soldiers.

Edwards said of the award, "This represents the enterprise efforts of our missile and aviation subject matter experts as we work closely with the program executive offices and the Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command. The AMRDEC and RDECOM were awarded the superior unit award for efforts during the specific period of Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2007, but I believe this is reflective of the long history of AMRDEC's support to the warfighter and it continues today."

The Unmanned Aircraft System Shadow 200 Communications Relay System improved two-way communications when operating beyond the limits of the single-channel ground and airborne radio system. It provides improved situational awareness, call-for-fire capability, and "imminent danger" communication to Soldiers.

"We teamed with the Unmanned Aviation System Project Management Office to provide great situational awareness and further remove the Soldier from harm's way," Danny Featherston, AMRDEC's Prototype Integration Facility program manager, said.

RDECOM provides the Army with an organic research and development capability.

"There is no greater reward than being able to directly affect the warfigher's capability," Gina Best, UAS Shadow 200 CRS PIF project lead, said.

The reconnaissance vehicle system combines explosive device detection, defeat and interrogation capabilities onto an integrated platform. It allows Soldiers to observe and engage threats from a greater distance during route clearance.

"I am proud to know that the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization RECCE vehicle had an impact on Soldiers during the three years it was in Operation Iraqi Freedom," Bill Schultz, product manager for the Theater Rapid Response Team, PIF, AMRDEC, said. "It was the first time that a project I was involved in went directly to Soldiers and that made it a high point in my career."

A fundamental characteristic of the RDECOM's work force is the focus on the Soldier.

"The RECCE program provided the warfighter with greater protection and the latest technology while executing the extremely dangerous IED detect/defeat and route clearance mission," Featherston said.

Whether providing technology solutions to meet current operational needs or developing break-through technologies for the next generation, RDECOM stands at the forefront of what the Soldier eats, wears, fires, flies or drives.