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By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 1, 2015) — The Army of the future will be fueled by innovation according to military leaders in research and development.
“It’s up to us to establish the technical vision,” said Army Materiel Command Chief Technology Officer Patrick O’Neill. “We’ve got what it takes to meet the demands of the future. At the center of Force 2025 and Beyond will be the ability to provide technologies for supporting future operations and to streamline operational processes to produce a more adaptable, agile and effective Army.”
O’Neill is the featured interview for the July/August 2015 issue of Army Technology Magazine, which focuses on innovation. The magazine is an authorized, unofficial publication published under Army Regulation 360-1, for all members of the Department of Defense and the general public.
By Crystal Maynard, USAMRMC Public Affairs
Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan brought a surge in burn and blast wound injuries from improvised explosive devices. Many who sustain such injuries endure years of rehabilitation and countless surgeries. Finding innovative strategies to heal these complex wounds more quickly, with fewer complications and less long-term impact from scarring, contractures and disability is a high priority for military medicine.
In 2008, the Department of Defense established the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, led by the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Rutgers University. AFIRM was designed as a partnership between academia, industry and the government to deliver regenerative medicine therapies with the goal of restoring form and function to the most critically injured wounded warriors.
“Regenerative medicine is a rapidly growing area of science that aims to unlock the body’s own ability to rebuild, restore or replace damaged tissue and organs,” said Kristi Pottol, director of the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Program Management Office. “Much of regenerative medicine research in the civilian sector is focused on finding ways to reduce the burdens of chronic illness—diabetes, heart disease and others. The DOD wants to use these technologies to treat complex traumatic injuries.”
By William Norton, TARDEC
Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is often used to authenticate his successful development and innovation philosophy. Ford reinvented the basic concept of personal mobility by applying emerging technology, manufacturing and business techniques to allow his company to achieve his personal vision.
A similar philosophy has emerged in Army research and development.
The Modular Active Protection System, or MAPS, program is a Research, Development and Engineering Command-wide effort led by the Detroit Arsenal-based U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The program’s evolution rivals the American consumers’ move to cars as its “faster horse.”
An active protection system, or APS, provides a military vehicle with automatic protection from armor penetrators and direct-fire threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles. An effective APS must include:
- sensing to detect potential threats
- high-speed processing to classify the threat and to derive a relevant fire control solution
- countermeasures to destroy the threat before the vehicle and its occupants are hit
By Eric Kowal and Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs
In certain battlefield conditions, such as the mountainous terrain and unimproved roads of Afghanistan, large-caliber indirect-fire weapon systems lack the mobility and maneuverability required to successfully execute an assault.
To solve this problem, engineers at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, are developing a revolutionary weapon system called the Automated Direct Indirect-fire Mortar, known as ADIM, which can be fired while mounted on a light tactical vehicle such as the Humvee or its potential replacement.
The ADIM, currently an 81mm mortar weapon system, uses soft recoil to reduce the firing loads transmitted to the platform by a factor of eight, well within the limits of light tactical vehicle capacity.
Interview with Army Materiel Command Chief Technology Officer Patrick O’Neill
Army Technology: What is your vision for the Army of the future, and what role will technology play?
O’Neill: We should try to be the best. To enable that, I encourage us to challenge the status quo, empower and encourage innovation and professional growth, navigate our thinking, and infuse industry and academia in our plans.
As we think about the deep future, we should work closely with industry and academia to identify potential technologies early and to identify ways to support them for use in existing systems. How should we think differently? By partnering with industry and academia on systems still under development.
The challenges the Army faces, especially with the continued competition for resources, will be daunting. Our chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, characterized it well by describing that the “velocity of instability is increasing and protecting technology is very critical.”
Army Technology: You’ve said that we should focus on being more efficient and effective. What is the best way to accomplish this?
O’Neill: It is important, especially with the threat of sequestration, to acquire technologies in a cost effective and efficient manner through joint collaboration and leveraging of investment dollars. It is critically important that the Army collaborate with other services, industry and academia to identify potential technologies early and to identify ways to integrate those technologies into the Soldiers’ kit.
The Defense Innovation Initiative is a new approach to allow new thinking focused on threats and challenges to our military and technological superiority. At the center of Force 2025 and Beyond will be the ability to provide technologies for supporting future operations and to streamline operational processes to produce a more adaptable, agile and effective Army. I believe the new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental in Silicon Valley will help create the presence we need in order to best identify and speed the technologies of tomorrow.
ECBC Public Affairs
Imagine a future in which a chemical attack on a Middle Eastern village in the dead of night has no effect on the people in its path. They are sleeping soundly in tents embedded with protective filtration material that prevents any harm. The village elders who come out to investigate have that same material in the headscarves they wear over their faces as they walk about with chemicals lingering in the air.
That day is coming closer. Two U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center scientists, Greg Peterson and Jared DeCoste, are working with chemists at Northwestern University to make it a reality.
For the past eight years, Peterson and DeCoste have been steadily refining and improving a recently developed class of chemical compounds known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. Chemists make them in a laboratory using organic struts and metallic nodes, much like an erector set, creating void spaces for chemical warfare agent or toxic industrial compound molecules to enter.
ECBC Public Affairs
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The rapid pace of technology continues to be a catalyst for the way people live, work and play. Network connections have promoted mobile computing applications that have increased access to information and knowledge sharing, and as a result, empowered communication on an individual and organizational level. But is the network secure?
The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center R&D IT Enterprise uses the Defense Research Engineering Network. Its secure network technology facilitates how scientists and engineers are able to get the right information to the right people at the right time in order to fulfill their mission to advance chemical and biological defense.
Army engineers increase situational awareness for route clearance teams
By Allison Barrow, CERDEC Public Affairs
U.S. Army researchers are reducing the cognitive load on Soldiers by streamlining critical surveillance functions as part of counter-explosive, route clearance missions inside the Medium Mine Protected Vehicle, known as MMPV.
By collapsing the multiple video displays within the vehicle into a single touchscreen display, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, in partnership with Product Manager Assured Mobility Systems, set out to increase situational awareness and operator efficiency, while decreasing size, weight and power, or SWaP.
Because of the way the counter-IED threat has evolved, there are an increased number of individual systems inside the MMPV compartments, such as imaging sensors, weapon systems and communications equipment, said Sean Jellish, CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate Multifunction Video Display lead engineer.
By Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs
As drone technology gains greater public attention, along with its potential for hostile action against American targets, U.S. Army engineers are seeking to adapt ongoing research to counter aerial systems that could threaten Soldiers.
At Picatinny Arsenal, the Extended Area Protection and Survivability Integrated Demonstration, or EAPS ID, began as an Army Technology Objective program. The goal was to develop and demonstrate technology that could support a gun-based solution to counter rockets, artillery and mortars, or C-RAM.
Research into enhanced C-RAM technology had the goal of extending the range and probability of success against the incoming threat.
By C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service
New, lighter batteries are under development for Soldiers now, in-house, at the Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland.
Chemists at the lab here do materials research on lithium ion batteries and other advanced battery chemistry in an effort to support the warfighter.
“We help to develop new battery materials that are lighter and last longer for the Soldier, so he doesn’t have to carry so many batteries,” said Cynthia Lundgren, a chemist and Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch of the Power and Energy Division in the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.
To create a better battery, Lundgren and her team experiment with small “button cells,” such as what one might find in a watch. A “cell” consists of two electrodes: an “anode,” which is the side marked with a “minus” sign; and a metal oxide or phosphate cathode, which bears the “plus” sign. Between these two electrodes is a liquid electrolyte soaked separator that facilitates the transfer of lithium ions to transfer charge. One or more of these “cells” is used to construct a battery pack.
By David Vergun, Army News Service
Tiny Army satellites may someday provide Soldiers with voice, data and even visual communications in remote areas, which lack such communications.
Already some of that technology has been successfully tested, said Dr. Travis Taylor.
Taylor is the senior scientist for Space Division, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command – Tech Center, or SMDC, at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He spoke during Lab Day at the Pentagon, May 14, 2015.
By Bob Reinert, USAG-Natick Public Affairs
When Soldiers rip open meals, ready-to-eat, also known as MRE, in a combat zone, most people probably are thinking more about flavor and filling their stomachs than about the nutrition.
However, that does not mean nutrition is not important. The new online combat rations database, or ComRaD, formally launched earlier this month by the Department of Defense’s Human Performance Resource Center, or HPRC, provides warfighters, military dietitians, food service officers and leaders the opportunity to learn more about the nutritional value of what is inside those packages.
ComRaD is the result of a collaborative effort between HPRC, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, also known as NSRDEC, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, at Natick Soldier Systems Center. The database contains nutrition information about the MRE, First Strike Ration, Meal, Cold Weather, and Food Packet, Long Range Patrol.
Before ComRaD, military customers needed to contact experts at NSRDEC’s Combat Feeding Directorate, or CFD, to obtain accurate nutritional information. The lack of public access to this information has left customers to obtain nutritional information from alternate sources that are sometimes unreliable and inaccurate.
By Carlotta Maneice, AMRDEC Public Affairs
The U.S. Army and Air Force are working together to develop Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles with laser technology.
Before, when the military wanted to disable a bomb, highly trained bomb disposal specialists wore body armor, protective suits or used robots to render an area safe.
With lasers, operators can negate the threat of improvised explosive devices, makeshift bombs, mines, and other unexploded explosive ordnance from a safe distance.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center Prototype Integration Facility, U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command and the Redstone Test Center developed the technology.
By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs
Military researchers demonstrated how their scientific and engineering efforts enable technological overmatch for Soldiers during the Department of Defense Lab Day at the Pentagon May 14.
Subject-matter experts from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s seven centers and labs displayed examples of their latest research to hundreds of uniformed and civilian defense employees in the Pentagon’s Courtyard.
By Joyce P. Brayboy, ARL Public Affairs
Dan Baechle had a childhood fascination with robotics and exoskeletons since he first saw Caterpillar’s Power Loader full-body exoskeleton from Aliens. Robotic exoskeletons have been a science fiction theme and an engineering feat since the 1960s.
Practical design techniques that allow a fictional character to be stronger, more powerful or more functional intrigues engineers toward simplicity in futuristic innovation.
At the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, Baechle, a mechanical engineer, is testing MAXFAS, a mechatronic arm exoskeleton, which is designed so that it could be used to train new Soldiers to reach shooting proficiency faster.
The near-future vision for the developmental test system is that it would be a training device to help new recruits with novice marksmanship skills and generally help increase combat arms shooting performance on the battlefield.
By Thomas Haduch, Director of Systems Engineering, RDECOM
As our systems become more complex, integrated, interoperable and designed to operate in an increasing systems of systems environment, the use of modeling can enhance our ability to analyze and truly understand system performance behaviors and identify developmental risks.
Model Based Systems Engineering is an innovative approach that allows a systems engineer to organically create a methodology to assess and understand the challenges and risks and develop possible solutions associated with the development and implementation of systems.
By Nikki Montgomery, AMRDEC Public Affairs
U.S. Army researchers have developed a tiny photovoltaic solar cell for the conversion of light energy into electrical energy that it resulted in a patent.
The patent reveals a new kind of photovoltaic solar cell with significantly reduced size and cost compared with current solar cells.
Dr. Michael Scalora, a research physicist at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, described the invention as a “breakthrough,” which he hopes will be the basis for further technological progress.
By Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, Commanding General, U.S. Army RDECOM
Scientists and engineers from across government, industry and academia are searching for technology solutions to bring empower American warfighters.
Innovation is the fuel for the Army of the future.
Army leaders have described how future Soldiers will “prevent conflict, shape security environments, and win wars while operating as part of our Joint Force and working with multiple partners” in the recently released Army Operating Concept, or AOC.
The AOC is our foundation, and it’s driving our science and technology strategy.
“The AOC is a beginning point for the innovation we need to ensure that our Soldiers, leaders and teams are prepared to win in a complex world,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno wrote when he introduced the concept.
Innovation is critical for both the operational and institutional Army, he said.
The AOC points out that innovation is the result of “critical and creative thinking and the conversion of new ideas into valued outcomes.”
As the Army’s principle innovators we have worked hard to balance the goals of this mandate by developing strategic partnerships that trigger innovation and aligning the command to be able to capture the spark of new ideas and convert it into the organizational energy that drives the attainment of valued outcomes.
We continually reach out to our industry partners as we seek to maintain the Army’s decisive overmatch because we recognize the Department of Defense is not the sole source of key breakthrough technologies. Many groundbreaking technological innovations in robotics, advanced computing, miniaturization and 3-D printing come from the commercial sector. Collaboration with these innovators will breed new ideas and ensure our technological edge through the next several decades.
Our goal is to capture the benefit of those partnerships and fuse it with our own innovations. To tackle the Army’s most important objectives, we have aligned ourselves across the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Centers of Excellence. RDECOM’s technical staff now works in the same seven portfolio areas defined by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). All this is done under the Army Operating Concept philosophy to ensure our efforts address the Army’s warfighting challenges.
Accomplishing this means investing in our most innovative capabilities, such as our prototype integration facilities. Innovative research and development leads to advanced prototyping, which enables smart design, which leads to lowering sustainment costs. Increased funding in coming years will enable our engineering teams to turn ideas into prototypes and then innovate capabilities informed by that prototyping. It also opens up the opportunity to re-engineer existing technologies to use them in different ways or different contexts to deliver new capabilities to Soldiers.
We recognize there are no “silver bullet” technological solutions. It’s not about the technology or device but about enabling the Soldier. Our efforts incorporate innovative solutions to fill technology gaps and make our Soldiers safer, stronger and more situationally aware of their environments.
Innovation will ensure the United States maintains its technological edge. It counters challenges to our competitive advantages and focuses our investments while creating options for future leaders. The Army needs innovative methods to develop technologies that will optimize the capabilities of smaller units by increasing battlefield intuition, military judgment and decision making.
Across RDECOM, I applaud the research and development innovations that lead to technological advancements. Whether it is new sensors, better batteries, or stronger materials for armor protection, the goal is the same. We innovate because it’s all about supporting our Soldiers with the best possible technologies to help them accomplish their missions.
This commentary appears in the July/August 2015 issue of Army Technology Magazine, which focuses on innovation. The magazine is available as an electronic download, or print publication. The magazine is an authorized, unofficial publication published under Army Regulation 360-1, for all members of the Department of Defense and the general public.
By Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army
Anticipating the demands of future armed conflict requires an understanding of continuities in the nature of war as well as an appreciation for changes in the character for armed conflict. —The U.S. Army Operating Concept
Expert knowledge is a pillar of our military profession, and the ability to think clearly about war is fundamental to developing expert knowledge across a career of service. Junior leaders must understand war to explain to their Soldiers how their unit’s actions contribute to the accomplishment of campaign objectives. Senior officers draw on their understanding of war to provide the best military advice to civilian leaders. Every Army leader uses his or her vision of future conflict as a basis for how he or she trains soldiers and units. Every commander understands, visualizes, describes, directs, leads and assesses operations based, in part, on his or her understanding of continuities in the nature of war and of changes in the character of warfare.
A failure to understand war through a consideration of continuity and change risks what nineteenth century Prussian philosopher Carl von Clausewitz warned against: regarding war as “something autonomous” rather than “an instrument of policy,” misunderstanding “the kind of war on which we are embarking,” and trying to turn war into “something that is alien to its nature.”
In recent years, many of the difficulties encountered in strategic decision making, operational planning, training and force development stemmed from neglect of continuities in the nature of war. The best way to guard against the tendency to try to turn war into something alien to its nature is to understand four key continuities in the nature of war and how the U.S. experience in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.
By David Vergun, Army News Service
“Sentient data” that can feel and perceive things might one day protect Soldiers and their networks, a leading scientist said.
Thomas F. Greco, director of intelligence, G-2, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke during a media roundtable, April 30, about findings from the TRADOC-sponsored 2015 Mad Scientist Conference at Georgetown University, and attended by top scientists, innovators and thinkers throughout academia, industry and government.
The conference addressed how existing technologies will be used in new ways in 2025 and beyond and what new technologies would become game changers then.