FORT HOOD, Texas - Members of the Army Science Board-an advisory panel of experts from various military, technical and scientific backgrounds-met with senior leadership from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here Feb. 27 in a series of meetings to discuss lessons learned from the brigade's recent deployment, Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 06-08.

The brigade returned from Iraq in January.

According to Maj. John Garcia, information operations officer for the Ironhorse Brigade, the Army Science Board is made up of unpaid volunteers and is led by members who were formerly affiliated with the military to include a few retired Army generals.

"(The advisory board) helps to better improve operations in Iraq by assisting Army components, such as brigades, in planning future operations," said Garcia.

Through studies of operations, the board examines how well and to what effect brigades utilize such things as their computer software tools for information sharing, intelligence and other technical aspects of combat operations. They also examine how well brigades and other echelons use joint capabilities to achieve their mission.

The board talks to senior leaders about what challenges Soldiers face when using certain tools such as new software, what worked well and if the equipment worked as it was intended.

During their meeting, Army Science Board members also examined how well the brigade brought the diplomatic, information, military and economic (DIME) elements of national power to bear against the enemy.

"They have a keen ear and work exclusively with a lot of senior Department of Defense Officials-they have a lot of interaction with people like the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Richard Cody," said Hendersonville, N.C. native Maj. Scott Kirkpatrick, an Ironhorse Brigade operations planner. "They will take all their input and lessons learned from the study, consolidate it and then present it to Gen. (Richard) Cody."

In their studies of deployments, the Army Science Board examines a deployment from the very beginning to include pre-deployment training to the end of the rotation.

"They might make recommendations saying that we may need more training in some areas or suggestions of more organization in other areas so that we can have success in future operations downrange," Kirkpatrick added.

Along with hearing from the Ironhorse Brigade senior leadership, board members also received input from the brigade's battalion commanders, company commanders and some platoon sergeants.

Those who attended the meeting said it was a worthwhile experience that will definitely help to improve future deployments to Iraq.

"The meetings went very well and there was good productive interaction between the board and the members of the brigade staff," said Kirkpatrick. "Some of the most important comments came from company commanders and the platoon sergeants who made a lot of impact with some meaningful comments."

"It was a great opportunity for everyone to relay their experiences," said Maj. John Garcia, the 1st BCT's information operations officer. "The Army Science Board members are very well in tune with what's going on in the Army and their feedback and recommendations will prove invaluable for future operations."