Army creating R&D command

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—The Army is establishing a new command focused on "interdependent" research, development and engineering activities, as part of the military's effort to get technologies into soldiers' hands faster.

The Research, Development and Engineering Command was provisionally established in October 2002 and will officially launch on Oct. 1, 2003, said Maj. Gen. John Doesburg, commander of the Army's Soldier and Biological Chemical Command. He said he is the "transition team director" for the new command. His involvement after the official launch has not been determined.

Gen. Paul Kern, commander of the Army Materiel Command, said that Doesburg is the "point person" for the new command, which will tie together all of the service's research and development (R&D) facilities, laboratories, training, and testing and evaluation commands.

In fact, the new command already has agreements in place with the Training and Doctrine Command and the Army Test and Evaluation Command so that the "requirements side and the testing side are tied together…to get products into soldiers' hands faster," Kern said Feb. 26 at the Association of the U.S. Army's winter symposium here.

The new command is taking a "system of systems" approach, looking across all of the service's efforts in Army labs, with academia and industry, as well as what is being done in the other military services, Doesburg said.

"System of systems integration is critical to us as we move toward the Objective Force," he said. The Objective Force is a strategy to develop advanced information technology tools, vehicles and weapons that will make the Army's armored forces better able to survive an all-out fight. The first unit is scheduled to be equipped in 2008, with initial operational capability by 2010.

"We want to bring in the right minds to analyze the problem, and then go to the proper R&D center and say, 'Make us a prototype,' " Doesburg said. "Then, we bring those minds back together to make sure this is what we need, quickly test it, and if the soldier wants it, go into production."

The location of the new command's headquarters has not yet been determined, but the staff will eventually include about 150 people who rely on a virtual collaborative environment to communicate and make decisions, Doesburg said. He added that work has already begun in that regard and that the command's staff is working on products supporting the global war on terrorism.

"In the virtual collaborative environment, we can link [the necessary centers or labs] at the right time with the right people to solve the problem," Doesburg said, adding that he is also conducting executive sessions twice a week with senior leaders at the various research, development and engineering organizations.

Doesburg said he conducted the latest executive session this morning among himself and a scientist here in Florida, a colonel located at an airport and another official at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. "The hard part is getting people used to doing it that way," he said.

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