By Dan Rusin, RDECOM
Over the past 10 years, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has been striving to strengthen partnerships and collaborations to develop cutting edge technology for Soldiers.
One example is the technology enabled capability demonstration effort, known as TECDs. Through the synergy of partnerships and cooperation, TECDs are delivering many key technologies to fill official capability gaps identified by TRADOC.
The TECDs partner several independent efforts across and beyond RDECOM with larger Army goals and capability gaps. TECDs started as collective partner efforts by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology under specific portfolio managers, to develop technology to meet some of the Army’s critical problem areas using solutions that can be demonstrated between 2014 and 2018. A key benefit to the partnership experience links RDECOM’s products to funding and programs of record.
RDECOM manages five Army TECDs:
- Occupant Centric Platform
- Logistics-Sustainability and Basing
- Force Protection for Soldiers and Small Units
- Mission Command
- Actionable Intelligence
The partnerships of the TECDs foster collaboration between RDECOM’s sub-organizations and with external centers of excellence, commands and program offices.
Sustainability and Logistics-Basing TECD
The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center works with the Army Research Laboratory, the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, Engineer Research and Development Center, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and others to demonstrate advances in energy efficient base camps at the Base Camp Integration Laboratory, which is a PM FSS asset. A long-term demonstration will take place in late 2014 to demonstrate the collective benefit of 22 new Army technologies for Soldiers operating at expeditionary and forward operating bases, with the goal of proving out the collective fuel and water use savings by using these new technologies together.
To focus individual efforts to analyze and provide proper collective solutions for base camps, this TECD brings collective power to solve the problem of too much time and money spent on storing, transporting, distributing and waste handling of consumables (water, fuel, power, ammo and food) to field elements, creating exposure risks and opportunities for operational disruption, and how this problem area can be solved. A focus area is on the expeditionary base camps of the platoon and company size units.
Mission Command and Actionable Intelligence TECDs
CERDEC partners with TRADOC’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, Mission Command Center of Excellence, ARL and several small businesses to develop and demonstrate applications or “apps” for the new commercial-type mobile phones that are being connected with the military specific radio systems, and with specific tools to be used in understanding and processing squad-level actionable intelligence.
These programs link the key successes by the commercial app development community with the specific goals requirements and protocols of the individual military systems. Several applications will expand the individual soldier and squad team’s ability to pilot UAVs, process requests for information and to share critical data such as power and energy status or forms or adaptive information processing.
These TECDs address the area of tactical surprise and squad level information. Army squads are too often surprised in tactical situations. Soldiers in small units lack sufficient timely mission command and actionable intelligence to understand where their assets are, who and where the enemy is, who and where noncombatants are and to document and communicate this information to each other and higher echelons. Soldiers in small units have limited capability to integrate maneuver and fires in all environments to create tactical overmatch necessary to achieve mission objectives. As part of the collective demonstration plan, the Mission Command and Actionable Intelligence TECDs are demonstrating over a dozen products at Fort Dix, N.J., and Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning, Ga.
Occupant Centric Platform TECD
TARDEC is partnered with NSRDEC, Industry, academia, ARL, and the ground vehicle program executive offices to produce more accurate models of the human body experience in military vehicles, reduce Soldier fatigue, and increase survivability in the occupant centric platform TECD. For example, ARL’s HRED and NSRDEC partnered to develop new 3D computer models of male and female Soldiers wearing body armor and typical body-worn equipment such as ammunition pouches. These computer models were partnered with TARDEC for the use in developing seating requirements for Soldiers of all sizes and both male and female genders. Additional partners for OCP are ERDC and a large group of academic institutions and industry. Through the partnerships developed by OCP, Soldiers will benefit.
The OCP TECD looks at the concept of designing vehicles around the fit and considerations of soldiers of both genders and all sizes. The OCP program will create guidelines to increase protection levels of the vehicle platforms while increasing freedom of movement for occupants. The challenge is to formulate an S&T program to make improvements to existing platforms or develop new platforms that provide appropriate increased protection from current and emerging threats and optimal space allocation for Soldiers and their gear, while decreasing platform weight and maintaining or increasing maneuverability during full spectrum operations. Significant use of cooperative modeling and simulation is key to this TECD. Three ground vehicle demonstrator models will be used in this TECD to demonstrate collective technology successes, which will lead to an overall guidebook for vehicle designers and manufacturers.
Force Protection – Soldier and Small Unit
NSRDEC also partners with TRADOC, industry, ARL and others to improve coverage of the spectrum of threats encountered by Soldiers in small units by looking at current equipment, clothing and protective measures to provide adequate protection. Key beneficiaries to this TECD will be individuals in small dismounted units, especially squad automatic weapons gunners, grenadiers and medics.
The spectrum of threats encountered by Soldiers in small units is varied and complex; current equipment, clothing, and other protective measures do not provide adequate protection without adding significant mobility challenges. The collective challenge that is solved by the TECD Force Protection partnerships is to formulate an S&T program to increase the level of individual protection for male and female Soldiers at reduced total weight and volume while enabling increased physical and mental agility, particularly over extended periods. The goal is to reduce the number and severity of injuries and casualties. This TECD will use collective demonstrations, modeling and simulations to show collective benefit for the Soldier.
Following the successes of this generation of TECDs, RDECOM is conducting discussion with ASA(ALT), which will be managed under the Future State Demonstrations line of effort of the RDECOM strategic plan. There is a saying among the TECD community, “If you’ve seen one TECD, you’ve seen only one TECD.” But all of the TECDs give a glimpse into RDECOM’s breadth. The TECDs demonstrate several of the next-generation capability improvements of specific technology areas, showing more than 200 products RDECOM is developing for Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
Editor’s Note: Dan Rusin is the staff engineer for RDECOM Headquarters in the Programs and Engineering section with focus on the Technology Enabled Capability Demonstrations and Power and Energy topics. Rusin has several deployments equipping forces in OIF with new technology. Before RDECOM, he served at ATEC as test officer for the THAAD missile system and the MRAP programs.