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by Scott R. Gourley

13 May 03. The U.S. Army continues a massive reorganization of its broad research, development and engineering efforts with 1 May 2003 marking an “operational control” milestone for the new U.S. Army Research, Development and
Engineering Command (RDECOM) (Provisional).

Originally established in October of last year, RDECOM was created with the primary objective of integrating research, development and engineering across all areas of the Army, the other services, universities and industry. Planners emphasize that RDECOM requires the capability to integrate Army resources (people, dollars, time, etc) to support Army acquisition while insuring that priority of resources is directed to Objective Force capabilities and supporting programs like Future Combat Systems (FCS).

The provisional RDECOM was originally provided with the following organizations: A Deputy Commanding General (System of Systems Integration) with an Agile Development Center, Modeling and Simulation, International Programs, Field Assistance in Science and Technology office, and several functional divisions at Fort Belvoir, VA; Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; and Army Materiel Systems Analysis Agency (AMSAA), Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.

The 1 May 2003 expansion milestone marked the assumption of RDECOM operational control over the following organizations: Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL;
Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, NJ; Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Fort Monmouth, NJ; Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), Warren, MI; Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; and the Natick Soldier Center, Natick MA.

RDECOM representatives note that “operational control allows for command authority over another organization with respect to “operations” without requiring that the organization that is operationally controlled to be physically moved to that parent organization’s geographical location.”

As part of the process, RDECOM assumes responsibility for the execution of all programs being conducted at those centers.

Efforts are underway to complete the establishment of RDECOM on 1 October 2003.

Impacts to other command structures are still being determined as of this writing. An example of one organization that could disappear as part of this process is the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM), located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.

Noting that no existing previously command structures were eliminated on 1 May, an RDECOM (Provisional) representative acknowledged that change as one of several future possibilities.

“They branched out into RDECOM and the Chemical Materials Agency but the commander of SBCCOM still has a special staff at SBCCOM,” they said. “So SBCCOM still exists, so far. There’s a possibility of it going away when RDECOM [formally] stands up on 1 October [2003] but that’s not certain. Right now the Chemical Materials Agency is a provisional agency and the RDECOM is a provisional organization.”

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