field personally was not possible. However, one member of the SAB was the deputy commander (three-star) of the TRADOC, which describes itself as the user’s representative.
The SAB would meet at the ARL once a year for a half day, during which it would be briefed on ARL’s activities of the past year and its projections and challenges for the upcoming year. The SAB would then be given a few short technology briefings on recent breakthroughs, a summary briefing from both the BOD and the Technical Assessment Board (TAB) of the National Academies’ National Research Council in order to get a complete picture of all facets of the laboratory’s activities, a tour of the facilities with demonstrations of technologies, and a working lunch at which time the chairman (the AMC commander) would solicit from each member opinions, critiques, suggestions, requests, and recommendations. These activities were captured as notes and action items, with the action items being scrupulously responded to over the next few months. Thus, the ARL was able to reach out and communicate its performance and achievements to assure this very senior group of stakeholders of its relevance.
This activity proved to be an enormously powerful management tool for ensuring the laboratory’s relevance and performance as an Army asset. Demonstrating this close relationship with its customers and senior stakeholders served to drive ARL’s performance. However, the SAB concept was abandoned after 2000. With the formation of RDECOM as a new command organization injected between the ARL and the AMC, it was no longer possible from a protocol standpoint to bypass the two-star RDECOM commander to the four-star AMC commander in order to continue the latter’s chairing of the SAB, nor could the RDECOM commander summon all the three-star SAB members to assemble.