DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. -- The researchers and engineers responsible for developing the next generation of Army vehicles got a new leader Aug. 13.

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Director Dale Ormond formally presented Dr. Paul Rogers with delegation of authority during a ceremony here. The Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is a critical organization within RDECOM.

"It is very rare that civilians get this kind of opportunity," Ormond said. "This is one of the opportunities where we hand a civilian a set of keys and say, 'It's yours to drive and it's yours to manage and run.' We don't do that very often, so this is a very special occasion."

Rogers previously served as Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems deputy, also located at the Detroit Arsenal. In that role, Rogers managed the development, systems integration, acquisition, testing, fielding, sustainment and improvement of ground combat systems for with the Army's transformation plan. He said the time spent with the PEO increased his knowledge of how TARDEC collaborates with its government partners and prepared him for his new role.

"I thought I understood our community when I was with TARDEC before," Rogers said. "But for the last two years, I have gone through such an education and gained an appreciation for the complexity that [the PEOs] deal with and the difficulty of what they do. Those folks fight day in and day out to deliver combat capability and support to our Soldiers. I have gained nothing but the utmost respect for what they do and the resilience that they show. I commit myself to them to help bring TARDEC forward to help be the face of RDECOM within this community, to support them and do whatever we can to ensure their success."

As TARDEC technical director, Rogers will manage a workforce of more than 1,700 engineers, scientists, researchers and support staff, setting a strategic direction that affects more than 270 Army systems -- the largest portfolio in RDECOM.

"We are going to face some strategic conditions that will challenge us over the next year or two," Rogers said. "We have budget pressures and major programs that are transitioning from production to sustainment. These factors have a direct impact on our community. And when I say community, it's not just TARDEC and the entities that exist on this small piece of land in Southeast Michigan, but also the industrial base around us. I'm very aware of those pressures and I'm very sensitive to those pressures and confident that if we collaborate, pull together and work through it, we can do it in the most effective means. We can transition from where we are today to where we will be in the next couple of years while maintaining our industrial might and preserving the talent and capability within our workforce."

Rogers said he values his history with TARDEC. Before serving at PEO GCS, he was TARDEC's executive director for Research and Technology Integration. Addressing TARDEC associates and the collaborative government, industry and academic partners in attendance, he vowed to continue TARDEC's history of innovation and collaboration on Warfighters' behalf.

"I spent 19 years as part of this organization. I recognize that I might be the director of this organization, but this organization is not here for me. I commit that I am here to support you," he said. "I cherish this opportunity. This is a very talented workforce, a community that provides a very noble service to our country. Aside from wearing a uniform. I don't know if there's a nobler calling than to support those individuals and provide them with the equipment that they need to be successful and return home. I've seen it for the last 20 years. I will see it throughout my career and lifetime, and I look forward to being a part of it with you."