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Strykers share combat perspectives with scientists

Fifteen from JBLM tour 11 labs

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Dickson tries to puncture a piece of Kevlar at Army Research Laboratory's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Nov. 12. /Donna Miles

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Fifteen I Corps soldiers fresh from combat tours in Afghanistan collaborated with Army scientists during a two-week tour of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command facilities Nov. 8-19.

The soldiers and scientists said the combination of battlefield lessons and research advancements will help American warfighters defeat their enemies now and in the future.

Soldiers recanted stories from the battlefields of Afghanistan, and researchers shared the latest advances in personal and vehicle armor, weapons systems and protection from chemical and biological attacks.

First Lt. Ryan McCormick returned from Kandahar Province in July and is confident that scientific advances today will bring combat success. He is a platoon leader in the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis, Wash.

"Just seeing that and getting that done for the next rotation to Afghanistan, they're going to have exponentially more capability than we had," McCormick said. "Then the next time our brigade goes over there, it's going to be so much better than the equipment we had to work with."

The soldiers visited U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center facilities at APG. They are visiting 11 laboratories across the United States as part of their Post-Combat Deployment Assessment.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, told the officers and noncommissioned officers that their communication with the scientific community is vital.

"If there's anybody in the world that understands the context of the problem in a combat situation, it's you guys."

Sgt. 1st Class Eric Knight was in Kandahar Province for a year as an infantry platoon sergeant with B Company, 1-17th Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

"Normally, we do [After Action Reviews] after most events. A lot of times, you sit there and wonder, 'Are these guys really listening to what I'm saying? Are they actually interested in hearing my input and how it could make their product better?'" Knight said. "For me, it's seeing that side of it and how much of an interest they take in what we have to say."

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