Colonel shares vision for lab’s future

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In October of 2020, an announcement came that a new director of the Air Force Research Laboratory on Griffiss Business and Technology Park - Rome Lab - was selected to succeed Col. Timothy Lawrence, who was leaving per a standard assignment rotation.

Flashing to today, Lawrence’s replacement Col. Fred E. Garcia II, has now assumed command of the lab.

Garcia, a Colorado-native, received his commission through the Air Force ROTC program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1997 and most recently was the deputy director, Nuclear Technology and Integration Directorate at the Air Force Nuclear Weapon Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Also among career highlights, he served as Deputy Group Commander and Commander for the 341st Mission Support Group, 341st Missile Wing, at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

In a recent Q&A, the Rome Sentinel caught up with Garcia and he had this to say:

What is your vision or action plan for the next five or 10 years regarding what he would like Rome Lab to accomplish? What emerging technology would you like to focus research efforts on?

“My vision for Rome is to continue to foster a local high-tech ecosystem across our government, industry and academic partners where our people are encouraged to be creative through their technical research pursuits.

True breakthroughs come from technical creativity. In the next five to 10 years, I hope to see significant breakthroughs in quantum information science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber and unmanned aerial systems.”

What were some of your initial thoughts about the assignment, and how did those early ideas about Rome change after you got here ... And why?

“I was selected from a command candidate list. Originally, I didn’t know what to expect from Rome as I had never visited this installation before.

Now that I’ve been here a few months, I’ve realized that Rome truly is a national treasure developing technology that everybody wants and needs.

Our AFRL success is a testament to the tremendous local civic support at the local, state and federal levels and ever-growing partnerships around Rome and across the Mohawk Valley!”

Rome Lab staffs about 755 civilians and 61 military positions, plus it has about 403 on-site contractors and leads the Air Force’s work in communications, Intelligence and cyber science, research, and development among other work.

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