April 16, 2012
By Mr. Dan Lafontaine (RDECOM)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie assumed duties as the leader of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s enlisted Soldiers March 16. He took over for Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, who served as RDECOM’s senior noncommissioned officer since 2007.
In an interview with RDECOM public affairs, Beharie discussed the role of the command’s enlisted Soldiers, the needs of Soldiers in theater, and how Army scientists and engineers will continue to provide the technological edge for its Soldiers.
What is your message to RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers?
“Being the new sergeant major, I want to get to know who they are, what they do for the organization, and talk to them about their concerns. As a junior Soldier, I wanted to know that my leaders were not only going to give me a mission but care about me and care about what I care about.
I want to get to know them. We have great Warfighters at RDECOM. They are helping RDECOM become a better organization with better support to our Warfighters.”
How is your role different at RDECOM, where the workforce is predominantly civilian, compared with your previous assignments?
“You have to take a different approach when working with Department of the Army civilians. They don’t have any less love for the military. I find they are just as proactive and proud of their service to our Warfighters; it’s just a different uniform.
The things they want to do for Soldiers, they want to know that it matters. [It’s the] same thing with Soldiers in the field in an operational organization. We have a mission; we have our marching orders, we know what we need to do for the Army. With civilians, it’s exactly the same.
Everyone wants to do great and wonderful things and to know that we are doing that with one thing in mind — to make a nation stronger by making our Warfighters stronger.”
How do RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers help the command empower, unburden, protect and sustain the Warfighter?
“The Soldiers of RDECOM are subject matter experts within their military occupation specialty, and they bring this professionalism with them to this command. They represent every Warfighter within our Army by using their knowledge to advise our scientists and engineers when they develop materiel solutions for the Army.
We are basically supporting ourselves. We are Warfighters. We come out of the war for a small bit to come to RDECOM and places like RDECOM that support the Warfighter. We bring that wealth of knowledge from the battlefield. We are the ones using all this technology being developed by RDECOM. Knowing and having a feel for that is invaluable to our scientists and engineers. Bringing that to the command is absolutely important.
The second part of that is bridging the connection between civilian scientists and engineers to the Warfighters out in the field. We know them. We were them. To bridge that gap, that is another thing we do well as Soldiers in RDECOM.”
What are the greatest technology needs Soldiers have in Afghanistan?
“We are there to protect the population. We are there to separate the enemy from the population and to give the population a fighting chance to develop into a great nation. That’s what they want.
What we need is the security to do that. Any technology that gives us the edge to be more secure to do our jobs better in and around the battlefield is what [Soldiers] want. Technology gives us that edge. We do it better than any other country in supporting our Warfighters to accomplish their mission.”
How can RDECOM’s scientists and engineers have the greatest impact on Soldiers?
“We have great systems in place within RDECOM. We have the RFAST-C [RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan] in theater. Our Warfighters go directly to the engineers and say, ‘I need this, and I want it to look like this.’ Our engineers at the PIF [Prototype Integration Facility] in theater can produce a materiel solution in very little time.
We have even bigger support mechanisms in place. We have our Science and Technology Assistance Teams. We know what [the Soldiers’] needs are because we are there with them as they go through the throes of battle.
We have reachback capabilities to our scientists who have a wider assortment of tools and materiel solutions to help our Warfighters accomplish their missions.”
What advice did Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin give you during your transition period?
“We knew each other before I was selected for this position. Once I knew I was coming here, we talked about what this command is, what [it] does, and how well it does what it has to do.
This doesn’t always happen in the military where you get time to transition. He and I had time to sit down, and I picked his brain. [We] traveled to see our RDECs [Research, Development and Engineering Centers] to talk to our folks. We have a great tradition at RDECOM of supporting the Warfighter. That’s exactly what I intend to do.”
How can RDECOM better inform Soldiers about in science and technology for Soldiers?
“That’s a continual process. We have a great network of people around the world looking for technology, trying to develop technology with partners in other nations. Just this morning, I had a theater update brief, where all of our folks in different countries dial-in to talk about the challenges that their supported elements are having and what RDECOM can do to help the Warfighters out there.
Our [public affairs office] tells the stories of our organization. [We] use all the multimedia sources to get the information out. I believe that becomes even more relevant for our Soldiers to know what we do, what we can provide, and how we can provide it. That’s the biggest challenge. We have to get after that every day.”