ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The associate director for the Research, Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center, or RDECOM CERDEC, spoke at a professional organization luncheon Sept.12 at Top of the Bay here.

Robert Zanzalari, CERDEC associate director, talked to members of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, or AFCEA, Aberdeen Chapter about the broad mission areas of CERDEC, CERDEC goals for 2020 and beyond, and where people can find more information about contracting and partnering with CERDEC.

"There are a lot of new companies, a lot of new faces that may not know what CERDEC does," said Zanzalari. "I thought it would be beneficial to give them a base line of who we are and our areas of interest from a technology perspective."

The luncheon was an opportunity to inform industry members about national defense and budget strategies and to inform them how those issues affect CERDEC. This should help them plan support for jointly executed projects and programs, Zanzalari said.

Zanzalari described a future Army where technologies are self-sustaining in terms of alternative power and micro-grids, agile and intuitive rather than today's stovepipe capabilities, which are heavily dependent on a potentially vulnerable supply chain.

CERDEC's sees a paradigm shift for C4ISR systems moving from a "single box" for a "single capability" to where independent systems have their own controls and displays, to a concept of defining the long term integrated vision of system-of-systems, where there are standardized interfaces and common services, said Zanzalari.

Since CERDEC relocated to APG from Fort Monmouth, N.J., there have been new approaches to problem solving brought to the organization by companies that did not previously do work with CERDEC, said Zanzalari.

"Being down here, being in a new environment has helped us think more broadly in totality across our mission areas," said Zanzalari.

Zanzalari emphasized communications-electronics technologies on which CERDEC works are on every platform from the Soldier to aircraft. CERDEC's concentration in spectrum management and utilization; efficient mission command systems; cyber operations; maneuver support; force protection; and early detection and understanding of threats, can be used to maintain the Army's operational advantage and to combat adversaries who leverage commercial electronics.

"Partnership is important to us, and partnership doesn't necessarily always have to be [dependent] on having a contract to do work effort for us. There are many opportunities to work with us to get to the end state that we need to deliver products to the Warfighter," said Zanzalari.

Most of CERDEC's contracting goes through broad area announcements, which can be found on the Federal Business Opportunities' website.

"In addition to broad area announcement, we continue to have open doors across the organization in terms of coming in and understanding what companies are working on and how they can help solve the problems we are trying to solve," said Zanzalari.

"I think it is important for senior leaders in the community to engage with our industry partners on a routine basis to give them the perspective as the government sees it in regards to some of the challenges that we are dealing with," said Zanzalari.

More than 200 people from both government and industry attended the luncheon to network and learn about CERDEC.

"RDECOM and CERDEC are important players at APG, and there are often requests from AFCEA members for leaders and directorate leaders to speak," said Lexley Bender, AFCEA Vice President of Programs and business development director for DSA, Inc.

"We have eight lunches a year, and participate in other events," said Bender. "We bring industry and government together for the needs of Soldiers, and I encourage active military and government to attend."