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U.S. soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, conduct a combat mission inside a Stryker armored vehicle during Operation Helmand Spider in Badula Qulp, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2010. With GCV and the existing armored fighting vehicle fleet, moving troops safely across the battlefield remains a top priority.

In the future, we will get higher resolution and, more importantly perhaps, fast turn times on our ability to model and simulate capabilities and systems. And that's really important, because we are developing ever more interdependent systems with more capability, but [they are] also more expensive. So before we make those investments, we want to know as much as we can about the capabilities they bring, what costs are involved, and what the risks are. Modeling and simulation are an ever-growing factor in allowing us to do that.

How is RDECOM's relationship with ASAALT (Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) and TRADOC evolving?

We're developing new relationships that support the new reality. We are maturing as a command, having been first stood up provisionally about eight years ago and formalized six years ago. So we are a relatively young command and now going through a period of

U.S. soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, conduct a combat mission inside a Stryker armored vehicle during Operation Helmand Spider in Badula Qulp, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2010. With GCV and the existing armored fighting vehicle fleet, moving troops safely across the battlefield remains a top priority.

rapidly maturing our processes and building new relationships in the ASAALT world. Where once we were tied closely to the S&T portfolio managers, now we are reaching out to the systems team and others in ASAALT.

The same is true with TRADOC, which also is maturing its processes with the Capabilities Integration Center, Centers of Excellence [CoEs], and the Future Force Integration Directorate. We have organized ourselves to support all of those, working well with the TRADOC CoEs and our focus teams aligning well with the Capabilities Integration Center.

So we have matured and kept in step with our major supports, which includes the PEOs [Program Executive Offices] under ASAALT. We have given them an entry point, but use the TFTs to keep ourselves honest across the board and not become focused on single functional areas. We do have to moderate the enthusiasm of our folks; we want them to be excited about the systems on which they are working, but in context with the larger system of systems.

That's why we have people identified to serve multiple roles. We want folks working to make a particular system a success, but also to understand the context of doing that. We also want to provide an ability in the command to have other folks who can step back and take an objective, horizontal look across RDECOM and make hard recommendations to the Army leadership.

How is that going to benefit the Army as a whole and the individual warfighter in particular?

The first thing it does is allow us to leverage the capability of the entire command to support the individual warfighter, looking horizontally to employ the full power of the command to resolve their capability needs. Where in the past, we might have tried to bend the problem so one center could try to solve it alone, now we allow all our centers and the Army Research Lab to work on problems, along with our international partners. By getting all those broad views together, we can find better, faster, cheaper solutions which support both the warfighter at the pointy end of the spear as well as the Army as a whole.

We really have two customers in this command and the acquisitions world. One is the young soldier, sailor, airman, Marine; the other is the taxpayer, who is providing for the common defense. We owe it to both to take the broader view and leverage the entire talent of the command. Which means we have to keep away from the "not invented here" syndrome.

In what ways is system of systems engineering shaping the future of how RDECOM labs and centers interact with each other, with PMs and PEOs and with other Army commands?

It is requiring us to work much more closely than before, both amongst our labs and centers and with the PMs and PEOs. We really do have an interdependent Army today that networks the force structure. So to develop systems for it, you have to work in the construct of system of systems, where no system stands alone and there will be trade-offs amongst systems. We have to be able to frame those choices, not in terms of individual systems, as in times past, with a bottom-up approach, but using a top-down approach.

That's why we set up the TFTs and SIDs, to provide the horizontal integration to support the needs of the PMs, PEOs, and Army. We're unique in the Army acquisitions world, perhaps the only folks with a foot in every area - supporting logisticians, capability-based maintenance, all manner of PEOs and PMs. And to accomplish that, we bring together teams that look across all functional systems as they build that system of systems.

What remains to be done at RDECOM to support the move toward a networked, capabilities-based Army?

We need to continue to mature our processes. We're a relatively young command, doing that while supporting an Army at war, supporting a lot of urgent needs. Now we are at a tipping point, where resourcing is becoming tighter; we have to make the best use of the dollars we're given and need to better integrate urgent needs that have been fielded in recent years to make them enduring.

Even more than the processes, we are changing the culture to cause people to think about the system of systems, with a broader impact perspective. An engineer working on a system in the past would have been solely focused on that system; any interaction with other systems would have been secondary. Now that has to be moved up to at least parity, looking at the system of systems capabilities being brought to bear on the battlefield.

We have a lot of needs and we can't get everything we want right away. To make the needed recommendations, our culture must embrace the idea of collaboration to provide the Army with the best information we can. And that is why we have changed from a particular focus on one system to a focus on capabilities and understanding there may be multiple ways to achieve that.

In what ways are these changes impacting - if only by example - RDE in other Army major commands, your sister services, joint commands, allies, and even other government agencies?

I think the world has watched what we've done the past few years as a result of OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] and OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] and how we've rapidly inserted technology, seeing that as a model for how to modernize forces in the future. RDECOM has a robust international engagement program and a number of countries have sent representatives here to see how we are managing this process so they might utilize it in their own processes.

We also now work more collaboratively with all of those other players. For example, there is a tremendous amount of interest in blast and ballistic protection for soldiers on the battlefield, both in vehicles and dismounted. So we have put together a working group, reaching out to the medical and geospatial communities, the Marines, Navy, and Air Force, the test and modeling and simulation communities, industry, and academia, bringing together the best expertise to find the best solutions available now to provide blast and ballistic protection to everyone, then develop better ones for the future.

Meanwhile, we're trying to mature what we've learned, from core S&T and matrix support to major programs of record to institutionalizing urgent needs responses from Iraq and Afghanistan. I think we've done well in how we rapidly insert technology to meet warfighter needs as close to "right now" as possible, which has brought us closer to the warfighter.

During the past decade of combat, we've deployed S&T advisors forward, from colonels in Iraq and Afghanistan to five teams living and working with warfighters in both theaters, who feed information back to the command. That allows a much tighter cycle time between the warfighter identifying a need and something getting there for them to try out.

One lesson learned in the past nine years is to listen to the warfighter, let them tell you where you got things right and wrong, then feed solutions back to them in a very tight cycle. And we've done that, which is a huge change from how we used to do business. Now we are taking what has worked and nominating those to go into future Capability Packages and Capability Sets, so they go from an urgent need to something institutionalized in the Army.

That is very different from the processes we would have used 10 years ago and, frankly, has made us much smarter and more capable as a command, getting closer to the warfighter, getting into his head. Now we are looking at how we can develop and support other contingency plans so we can keep this going in any future contingency.

Different roles, one family, force protection. Sweet.

Electronic warfare, counter-fire target acquisition short-range air surveillance, ground surveillance - when defense keeps you this busy, it's nice to have one company that can handle it all.

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Defense > Environment > Intelligence

Five-year-old Maddie Lovell, right, clings to her father, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Lovell, of the 585th Military Police Company, during a welcome home ceremony at Marysville High School in Marysville, Ohio, Aug. 13, 2010. Lovell and about 170 other soldiers of the 585th Military Police Company returned home from the unit's first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom after training over 500 Iraqi police officers, conducting anti-terrorism and force protection missions, and providing provost marshal law enforcement in Iraq's Anbar province. One consequence of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been an increased dependence, and strain, on Guard and Reserve units.

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