Leaders of Texas A&M University System welcomed President George W. Bush Wednesday afternoon to the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC) on the RELLIS campus. The 43rd president was briefed at the BCDC headquarters, the Research Integration Center (RIC), about the new cutting-edge ecosystem for military technology innovation named in tribute to his late father, the 41st president.
The briefing was led by BCDC Executive Director Ross Guieb with help from Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks and Interim Vice Chancellor and College of Engineering Dean John E. Hurtado. Two leaders of the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, Board President Hap Ellis and CEO Max Angerholzer, also attended.
“This living laboratory will ensure that U.S. warfighters remain the best equipped on earth for generations,” Sharp told President Bush.
The BCDC will bring together researchers from U.S. universities, the military and the private sector for collaboration, demonstrations and high-tech testing of military modernization initiatives.
“The mission is to accelerate innovation for delivery to our troops,” said Guieb, a retired Army Colonel. “We want to deter any adversary or, if the fight comes, give our troops an unfair advantage.”
President Bush learned about two facilities under construction: the outdoor test-bed called the Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) for autonomous vehicle systems; and the Ballistic-Aero optic and Materials (BAM) test-range for hypersonic and laser systems
In addition, Hurtado noted that Texas A&M System is leading a national consortium of U.S. universities to coordinate applied hypersonic research under a contract with the Department of Defense.
With Texas A&M’s world-class education in aerospace engineering and other key national security fields, Hurtado said, “Our University is producing the national security workforce of tomorrow.”
Bush asked a number of questions aimed at ensuring that the BCDC is well-protected from cyberattacks and that all branches of the military will benefit from the unique combination of facilities.
As the 20-minute presentation concluded, Bush told Guieb, “It’s pretty impressive, Colonel.”
Military leaders eagerly await completion of the BCDC over the next several years. The complex is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Army Futures Command and The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the State of Texas.
When George W. Bush became president in 2001, it was only the second time in U.S. history that a president’s son also became president. Unlike either John Adams or John Quincy Adams, both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush were wartime commanders in chief.
On Wednesday, President Bush thanked Guieb and others in attendance who had served in the military. One of them was a student worker, Kali Moeller, who was served in Afghanistan as a Pashtu linguist until last year’s withdrawal.
Since leaving office in 2009, President Bush has remained a leading advocate for veterans and their families through the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
He also visited the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum on Wednesday. President George H.W. Bush selected Texas A&M to be home to the Library & Museum, the Bush School of Government & Public Service and the George & Barbara Bush Foundation. He and First Lady Barbara Bush, as well as their daughter, Robin, are laid to rest on the Museum grounds on the College Station campus.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.