PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- When Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, spoke to live and remote audiences here on Jan. 24, the message was clear: We all have to work together.

Ormond held the Town Hall specifically for personnel of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) to introduce himself to the workforce and to discuss what he sees as some key issues facing the Army's scientific research establishment.

"I love coming down to the (research centers)," Ormond said. "It's energizing to get a chance to meet the staff and the scientists and the engineers who get to put their fingers in the goo every day and do great things for our Soldiers."

Ormond became director of RDECOM on Feb. 10, 2012. He is the first civilian executive to lead the organization.

RDECOM, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the parent command of Picatinny-based ARDEC.

When Ormond was tapped to be director of the Army's research and development arm, the command, which had existed since 2003, faced a critical challenge.

"The problem with RDECOM was that in four years there had been four different commanding generals and it's such an enormous organization… that by the time a general officer, who really isn't trained to do that job, comes in and learns about the organization, now it's a year down the road, and now they're already on their way out the door," said Ormond.

"And so nothing ever changes. We never get the team built, we never get it going in the right direction, and it's not changing the way we need it to, in order to support the Army in the future," Ormond added.

With a civilian now in charge, the intent is to keep a director in place for a long-term appointment to accomplish the things that a military leader cannot accomplish because of the limited time in the position due to personnel rotations.

COMMUNICATING THE MISSION

Another challenge that Ormond highlighted was that RDECOM doesn't do a good job of communicating its role and achievements to the rest of the world.

Even within the Army, he noted, there are very few who know about RDECOM and its contributions it makes to the Warfighter.

"Nobody knows what you do," Ormond said.

The director stated that RDECOM and the centers should improve how they communicate their value to the public, underscoring what the centers do and how they make a difference every day.

Ormond described the individual research centers as operating largely independent of each other, thus limiting coordination. He attributed the problem to the lack of opportunity that previous military commanders had to develop RDECOM as an organization.

As part of an effort to achieve a tighter unity of effort among the centers, Ormond wants to standardize personnel and budget systems, as well as develop a uniform approach to systems engineering.

That standardization and interchangeability between engineers, projects and teams at the centers would allow full integration of equipment capabilities throughout the Army, he said.

PICATINNY TEAMWORK PRAISED

As an example of close coordination,he pointed to the positive working relationship between ARDEC and the Program Executive Office for Ammunition, both located at Picatinny.

"From what I can see there is a very positive relationship here between ARDEC, the PEO and PMs," Ormond said. "It's all one big team here and that's something we need to work on across the rest of the command."

Later in the day, Ormond also gave a similar talk during a luncheon sponsored by the Picatinny Arsenal Middle Forge Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.

AUSA is non-profit organization that supports the veterans, Soldiers, civilians and families of all components of the U.S. Army, U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.

Ormond, who was selected for the Senior Executive Service in July 2004, served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Elimination of Chemical Weapons) from July 2004 to July 2008, where he provided executive level policy and oversight of the Chemical Demilitarization Program for the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology)/Army Acquisition Executive.

He also served as the Acting Director, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency from January 2007 to January 2008, and had line management authority and responsibility for the operation of three chemical weapon storage depots, four chemical weapon storage activities, and five operational chemical weapons destruction facilities with a $1.5 billion annual budget.

Additionally from February to June 2008, Ormond served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Policy and Procurement, where he was responsible for Army contracting and acquisition policy.

A former Navy submarine officer, Ormond is a 1985 graduate of the U.S.Naval Academy.

He has a Master of Science degree in Environmental Systems Engineering from Clemson University.
In addition, he holds a Level III certification in Department of Defense Acquisition Program Management.

Ormond has a vast background in nuclear safety, industrial facility operations, and nuclear/chemical waste disposal spanning more than 25 years with the Department of Energy and Department of Defense.