ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Scientific personnel deploying to Afghanistan are working on technical solutions that will save Soldiers' lives, Army leaders said Aug. 15.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command leadership team officer spoke to 37 Soldiers and civilians attending orientation and reach-back training in preparation for deployment.

Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, who returned recently from Afghanistan, stressed why the team's mission is so critical to the Army.

"When you are standing on the tarmac during a ramp ceremony and you see caskets draped with flags going into a C-17, that's when it's all going to be clear," Marin said. "Everyone was quiet on that aircraft.

"We paid our respects, then not one word was said. That's when it really becomes clear about what we're doing here."

Soldiers depend on a decisive edge in combat from their equipment, including weapons, body and vehicle armor, communications and electronics systems, and chemical-biological protection gear, Marin said.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice said the Army's scientific solutions are integral to defeating the enemy and ensuring Soldiers return home safely.

"Science and Technology is another battlefield operating system, just like fires, maneuvers, command and control," Justice said. "Can you help change the equation? Can you change the odds of my platoon going out in the field today and giving me an edge over the enemy?"

Justice and Marin also stressed that deployed Soldiers need to engage with engineers and scientists back in the United States in order to provide rapid solutions.

"I can't expect any engineer or scientist in the laboratory to understand what problem that a unit is having from reading a report," Justice said. "They understand it because they talked to you."

"You can describe the problem best because you're going to be a team -- officers, noncommissioned officers and engineers. You are there to identify problems, and we're back here to support and figure out ways to mitigate those problems."

Marin encouraged the group not to settle within the Forward Operating Base. They need to seek out Soldiers to have an immediate impact.

"You have to understand the fight in order to contribute to the fight. Don't wait for issues and problems to come to you," Marin said. "You have to get down to the Soldier level on the ground.
"Get feedback on the technology. Our engineers depend on you for feedback from theater. The engineers want to make that piece of equipment better."

The deploying personnel will be assigned across Afghanistan. They will support the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, a newly formed command center at Bagram Airfield for science and technology activity, as well as Science and Technology Assistance Teams and Science and Technology Acquisition Corps Advisors.