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The principal tasks of the establishment were research in the fields of communications, the development of ground communications required by the Army, research and development in satellite communications, quantum electronics and night vision. Close collaboration with Naval research and development also took place. SRDE was concerned with communication techniques and how they were employed. The photograph above shows the Military Experimental Section.

SRDE has always tried to ensure that effective technical liaison was established between the user in the battlefield and the designer of the equipment. The Schools of Signals both at Blandford and Catterick were centres where the user was able to be trained on technical aspects of the equipment. As the communication systems became more complex it was particularly important that the technical courses reflected this. The School of Signals at Catterick Camp ran a Civilian Officers course where the scientist could see at first hand how the equipment was deployed in simulated battlefield conditions. The REME had a school at Arborfield where Regular Army and National Service recruits were trained as Telecommunication Mechanics.

SRDE took part in field trials, attended conferences, or acted as observers, at locations from Europe to the Far East. BAOR was a major proving-ground for new equipment and also has played a significant part in in fostering an understanding between the civilian scientist and the soldier. In the early days the Establishment formed a Military Experimental Section to provide independent "representative users" and to assist in the preparation and maintenance of line routes, masts, towers, and remote signals installations. However it was found that a more satisfactory arrangement was for SRDE to call on the schools for help with the trials.

The maintenance of a wide range of communication equipment was initially the responsibility of a resident REME Section 2 Maintenance Advisory Group, which also produced the equipment handbooks in the form of electrical and mechanical engineering regulations (EMERs). Later a Telecommunications Branch of Technical Group REME, a Ministry of Defence Unit co-located with SRDE, became responsible for the maintenance of army equipment and developing in association with the manufacturers, test procedures for night vision as well as communication equipment.

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