ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MARYLAND—Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Dan Dailey, visited numerous organizations across APG to better understand how the unique missions contribute directly to the Army’s number one priority—readiness. During the day-long visit, Dailey spent time with Soldiers, Army civilians and senior leaders to discuss his Army-wide leader development initiatives as well as garner a better understanding of what APG is all about.
Among many organizations, Dailey stopped at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to view a laboratory and observe a Chemical Accident or Incident Response and Assistance (CAIRA) exercise demonstration.
“Every day I learn something about the Army that no one knows we do,” said Dailey.
As the day progressed, Dailey also visited a contaminated facility slated for demolition. As he stood across the street from one facility where he could hear the AC running, John Fink, Deputy Director of Public Works, explained the importance of eliminating the building. “Because the building is classified as contaminated due to the historical missions there,” said Fink, “the building ventilation system and AC is kept running and is maintained at a cost to the Army.” Additionally, should this one facility fail, it could incapacitate numerous other missions within close proximity including ECBC and MRICD, units that directly affect Soldier readiness and national security. According to Fink, this is just one of a number of facilities on APG slated for demolition, but until that time, they are maintained and monitored.
Dailey moved onto the next sight by way of a windshield tour of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense and the Freestate Challenge Academy before his final stop on APG-South, McBride Parade Field, where the 20th CBRNE Command highlighted their equipment and capabilities in a Readiness Posture Demonstration.
After he completed his tour, Dailey spent a few minutes with the Soldiers of the 20th and recognized them for the specialized work that they do.
“There are a lot of people in America that rely on us as an Army,” said Dailey, “but they rely on you guys here at APG, and what you do every single day, to keep them safe.”
Dailey addressed Soldier’s questions on issues such as new Army uniforms and adding pay grades for enlisted soldiers.
“We’re going to launch a proposal to bring back one of the old uniforms called the World War II era,” said Dailey. The uniform would be similar to those worn during World War II with officers wearing pinks and greens and a khaki-green color for enlisted.
While no final decision has been made regarding the new uniforms, Dailey said that the World War II-style brings back a historical perspective.
“This is a reach back to a time when America was recognized for its greatest generation and the military’s contribution to the country,” he said.
Dailey admitted that news about possible new “E” grades for enlisted soldiers is something that the Army is taking a look at although it has yet to be finalized. He said the reason behind the new “E” grade was due to the increase in the responsibility level given to noncommissioned officers over the last 30 years.
“At the senior levels, we’ve increased the responsibility exponentially and we’ve asked a lot from them. We’ve actually created new skill levels but there’s no compensation commensurate to it,” Dailey told the troops. “But this concept takes into consideration whether we need to create different skill levels to bring us up to date with what we expect of our Soldiers.” Dailey said the topic will be discussed at an upcoming leadership development session where the Army will take a look at all the things that will help improve the lives of Soldiers from uniforms to training, education, compensation.
Speaking of education, Dailey also shared another initiative that he is working on that will open up the use of tuition assistance for credentialing.
“Currently tuition assistance can only be used towards a traditional college to get an education. But it’s also important to get credentialed especially if you are in a technical field like you’re in because there are six million jobs vacant in the U.S. in regards to technical certification that can’t be filled because we lack trained individuals in America,” said Dailey. “We’ve gotten away from the traditional trade industry. So I’m working very hard and I think I’m very close for us in the Army to do that.”
Dailey said the goal is to allow soldiers to use their tuition assistance dollars not only for traditional education but also for credentialing certification and licensing. “The intent is, if there is a state in the Union that licenses, certifies, or credentials you, then you will be able to use your tuition assistance to get education for that purpose.”
Dailey wrapped up this visit with 20th CBRNE by recognizing several 20th CBRNE soldiers for a job well done by presenting each one with a Sergeant Major of the Army coin.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what you are doing every single day here at APG,” said Dailey. “It’s a dangerous business what you guys do, but I’m glad you’re on the Army team! I appreciate what you do every single day. Good luck to each and every one of you, and thanks for what you do as a Soldier.”
After breaking for lunch, Dailey was given an aerial overflight during which he saw the vast number of ranges used for a variety of testing. Fink, who accompanied Dailey on the over flight, took the opportunity to highlight a couple of the many great successes of the APG Environmental Division. One of which was the combined heat and power plant that is saving the Army about $4 Million annually. The other was the hugely successful American Bald Eagle program. In the 1970’s, there were only two active nesting pairs of American Bald Eagles. The most recent count of active nests was more than 60, with more than 100 nests in various locations across the installation. According to Fink, the growth in numbers of an apex predator such as the American Bald Eagle, is a very good indicator of the overall health of the environment. Since the eagle seems to flourish across APG in and around the test ranges as well as other areas, indicates APG as a whole is a positive environmental steward.
After landing on APG-North, Dailey was taken to the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center’s Automotive Technology Evaluation Facility where he had the opportunity to learn how various tenants on Aberdeen Proving Ground continuously contribute to the 360 Degrees of Soldier Readiness.
As Dailey walked throughout the large bay, several of the commands who participated in the demonstration explained how each organization contributes to 360 degrees of readiness, ensuring America’s Soldiers are the best equipped fighting force in the world. Participants included the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL); the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC); U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC); the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC); Program Executive Office Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEOIEW&S); Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical PEOC3T.
“Army Research labs and other organizations work together to identify materials, capabilities, and designs, and once completed, it is sent to Program Executive Office Soldier where they work with stakeholders to procure protective equipment,” Scott Ritz, engineering technician at ATC. “The equipment is then sent to ATEC and ATC where the design will be chosen through developmental testing.”
“Nothing is more critical to the design success of individual equipment than the early participation of Soldiers in testing,” said Elizabeth Richardson, senior test officer for the Integrated Soldier System Branch at the ATC. Richardson said, “The Soldier—the human platform—must accomplish essential missions in highly stressful environments while wearing and utilizing enhanced tactical protective and performance equipment loads.”
With exception of the full helmet, Sgt. Mark R. Chuisano was equipped with the Soldier Protective System, or SPS, showing what the complete system resembled. The SPS includes the Modular Scalable Vest, Ballistic Combat Shirt, Integrated Head Protection System, Integrated Soldier Sensor Suite, and Transition Combat Eye Protection. “During the four years of developmental testing on the system, we’ve transitioned through about six different designs,” Richardson said. “The system that you see on Sgt. Chuisano is lighter, with more modularity, and a better fit.”
“Combined with our Army team of Soldiers and civilians, unique capabilities exist here that don’t exist anywhere else in the Army, and in some cases don’t exist anywhere else in the Department of Defense,” said Dailey. “We need the Army, and we need our Army team of civilians and there isn’t a single American that won’t deny that, they won’t…and you chose to do that job so thank you.”
By Suzan Holl, 20th CBRNE
By Lindsey Monger, ATEC