ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2010) -- The Army's top scientists, researchers and engineers gathered for the opening of the 27th Army Science Conference Nov. 29 to discuss the latest developments to provide technology-enabled capabilities with the goal to empower, unburden, and protect the warfighter.

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, addressed the attendees live from the Pentagon via video teleconference.

"This conference brings together a lot of very smart people and in doing so, it brings together a great opportunity for a lot of collaboration," Chiarelli said. "First, I want to encourage you to keep up the great work. You're enhancing Soldiers' capability both on the battlefield and off and you're saving lives."

"Second, I want to challenge you to look for opportunities to improve or expand especially in the areas specific to Soldier and Family care," he continued.

Chiarelli also issued a challenge to keep up with evolving technology.

"In the past, our Army acquisition process was able to keep pace with technology. However, that's not the case today, and our Soldiers cannot afford to sit and wait.

"The most important effort, in my opinion, is the network," Chiarelli went on to say. "I believe it represents the centerpiece of army modernization. I recognize many of you are involved in the network and related capabilities. What you're doing is incredibly important and I ask you to keep at it."

Marilyn M. Freeman, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology, welcomed more than 600 attendees at Monday morning's session and reiterated why the work conducted by the science and technology community is so important.

"Soldiers and warfighters remain the focal point of our Army," Freeman said. "Our great Soldiers face an elusive and adaptive enemy. This enemy may appear anywhere on any one day to be a friend, and the very next day to be a foe determined to maim. Our Soldiers must have a wide range of advanced and new capabilities and these capabilities grow out of this company."

Malcolm R. O'Neill, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, stressed that all members of the science and technology community are intertwined and need to rely on each other.

"We are part of a team," O'Neill said. "You as a member of the team must pull your share of the load. We expect you to do your job and we will do our job."

According to O'Neill, the conference facilitates the open exchange of ideas and results, creating cross-fertilization and leveraging of ideas among the scientific and engineering disciplines relevant to the U.S. Army's missions.

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, deputy commanding general for futures and director for Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, wrapped up the morning's session reiterating a theme many of the speakers also touched on.

"We need our best and brightest thinking about where we are going as a nation," Chiarelli said. "The nation's youth is where we are going with our Army."

The events at the four-day conference include remarks from a number of guest speakers and army leaders, topical panel discussions, a science and technology showcase, awards for the U.S. Army's 10 greatest inventions of 2009, and recognition of the authors of the most outstanding papers and posters from the parallel technical sessions.

The ASC is a biannual event gathering the Army's science and technology community that began in 1957 at West Point, New York. This year, the Army expects to host more than 1,500 individuals from 30 countries. The conference will end Dec. 2.