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U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: September 17, 2001
No: 01-49

Natick Soldier Center wins prestigious award

Natick, Mass. --- The Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC) won the 2000 Department of the Army Research and Development Organization (Small) of the Year Award.

It is one of the most prestigious awards given annually by the Army to a research and development organization. Competition is open to seven eligible research and development organizations in the small category (less than 600 employees).

The last time Natick competed and won was in 1993. Philip Brandler, NSRDEC director, was one of three directors of finalists invited to present their formal nomination package to the Department of the Army June 13.

"This award is a big deal, especially at this juncture with (discussion of base closings)," Brandler said. "Anything to put us at the forefront in the minds of decision-making individuals and show that we're a valuable asset to DoD is important."

He said the presentation highlighted the more significant role Natick is taking on in supporting the Army transformation vision with Objective Force Warrior, which cuts across multiple Army research and development organizations, and that this should further reduce the likelihood of closing. Moreover, the award improves the commitment and confidence of customers choosing Natick to support their programs.

His presentation highlighted many significant NSRDEC technical accomplishments, with the Military Operation in Urban Terrain Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (MOUT ACTD) as the centerpiece because it represented a notable advance in military capability that has transitioned to the field, Brandler said.

MOUT ACTD has been praised by Office of the Secretary of Defense as a model for successful technology demonstration, its partnerships with the user community, its affordability initiatives and rapidly transitioning technologies to the field.

The MOUT ACTD developed a "kit" of approximately 25 different technology products to help soldiers and Marines perform their mission in urban environments.

During test exercises, units showed decisive results against opposing forces in mock battles. The MOUT ACTD program is one of the first science and technology efforts to achieve this level of operational capability, validated by the recent adoption of the kit by the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

The major management accomplishment highlighted by Brandler was the effort to retain and rejuvenate the NSRDEC work force. To keep up the pace of innovation and meet customer needs, Natick's work force needs to remain viable. A highly competitive recruitment environment combined with evolving business area needs, and that one-third of the work force will be eligible for retirement by 2005, drove development of a five-year human resources plan. It tackles such issues as targeted skills recruitment, tailored training programs and improved human resource processes.

In fiscal year 2000, recruitment successes included 60 new employees (six with doctoral degrees and nine with prior military experience) and meeting manpower goals in six targeted areas.

The NSRDEC aggressively recruited entry-level scientists and engineers through programs such as Career Related Experience in Science and Technology (CREST). NSRDEC had the highest CREST allocation per capita and the highest CREST conversion rate in the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC).

Other highlights of Brandler's presentation included an education profile of the NSRDEC workforce (73 percent have degrees); its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities (including continuous capital investment in the scientific infrastructure); professional development programs; growth in funding (264 percent since fiscal year 1993); an impressive list of patents, publications, and professional recognition; and its zealous customer focus.

Natick has also enhanced the pace of technology development through partnering and leveraging. Natick has 42 active Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs), with six new agreements negotiated in fiscal year 2000.

Partnering with the Department of Defense (DoD), other government agencies, academia and industry has allowed Natick to leverage millions of dollars to supplement its core program funding and ensure that cutting-edge technologies are fully exploited.

One example is the National Protection Center (NPC). This initiative creates partnerships among state and federal government agencies, as well as industry and academia to enhance the safety and survivability of the nation's military and civilian law enforcement and emergency responders.

Overall, leveraging savings and cost avoidance climbed from nearly $46 million in 1999 to $96.4 million in 2000.

Natick is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information on SBCCOM or the Soldier Systems Center (Natick), please visit our website at