|The Army’s Chief Scientist: ‘We have to be about the Current Fight’ and Positioned to Look to the Future
Speaking Feb. 24 at a special science and technology day preceding the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Thomas Killion said that means “we have to be able to sustain great programs” like the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles now and protecting the force by investing in programs like regenerative medicine.
||Zeroing in on regenerative medicine, he added, “This is absolutely fantastic technology” and is “the kind of technology that will make a difference for our soldiers” and the civilian population.
Dr. Thomas H. Killion, chief scinetist, speaking at AUSA's
2010 Winter Symposium.
Future investments also need to be made by industry and government to have young people pursue careers in science, engineering and mathematics to keep the United States and its industry competitive.
Killion said this year the Army is requesting about $1.9 billion in basic technology – about $402 million for force protection. “What it comes down to is being smart about what we invest in science and technology.”
Adding, “You have to sift through the options” and “the noise so we know where the opportunities are.”
At a professional development forum, he said, “The technology [like robots and sensors] isn’t on the shelf by happenstance.”
The special value of the Rapid Equipping Force is to bring important equipment “in numbers that do matter to our soldiers.”
Speed of delivery and quality of products going to the force were at the heart of an industry panel look at transitioning advanced technologies to soldiers in the field.
Michael Cannon, senior vice president for ground combat systems at General Dynamics, said, “We’re proud of our ability of being systems integrators. … It’s extremely important that we do it right and do it rapidly.”
He cited his company’s tank Urban Survival kit for Abrams tanks, the SLAT armor for Strykers’ defense against rocket propelled grenades as examples of moving quickly to field an identifiable need.
Cannon said warfighter forums – where soldiers from private up – share their views on how equipment performed in the field. “We want to develop answers to soldiers’ questions, so we ask.”
“We’ve got to get the Army out of the lab and into the field,” Jeffrey Pridmore, vice president and deputy technical operations and applied research at Lockheed Martin said. “Getting R&D to the field has always been difficult” because of restrictions on how money may be spent.
Cannon added, “The color of money is probably the most onerous things we have going. It stifles innovation.” He was referring to how appropriated funds must be spent in certain categories – such as science and technology, research and development, initial production, etc.
He and Pridmore said that concurrent testing with some low level production would “get product to the soldier much faster.” Cannon added, “We do not make frivolous claims when it comes to survivability.”
Oates: IED is a ‘Condition of our Workplace’ with consequences
“The IED is a condition of our workplace” that "has operational and strategic consequences,” the senior officer charged with defeating these explosives told attendees at the science and technology day before the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition.
Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates speaking at AUSA's 2010 Winter Symposium.
The IED also remains the single largest killer of United States, coalition and Afghan forces.
Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director, said Feb. 24, “We need to take risks to help” service members serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett said, “The size [of the explosives] is increasing” as coalition operations expand. He added while many soldiers were familiar with IEDs from their tours in Iraq, “we’ve only got a small percentage of the Army that has ever been” to Afghanistan.
“The enemy kills a lot more civilians than they do of us. [It is] part of their plan. We need to give the Taliban credit for this.”
Right now the detection rate of the explosives remains stuck at about 50 percent. “We’ve been stuck on that number for way too long,” Oates said. While there have been improvements in detection technology, “80 percent are detected by soldiers.”
In answer to a question, he said, “Every hour we have invested in training … has returned us very high dividends.” It is training that now includes battalion and brigade staffs. “There’s a difference between hunting and walking around in the woods looking for a deer.”
Burnett said the training of the battle staffs is very important because “it teaches them how to fish. Do you want a crappie or a big old catfish?”
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, described the network involved in building and placing improvised explosives. It includes a spotter, triggerman, observer, emplacer, assembler, component makers, videographer and recruits.
Dave Saffold, who heads the office’s Center of Excellence, said they can quickly replicate situations in Afghanistan down to what kind of device was used, where it was placed and the time that it was discovered or exploded.
The information is also current, as little as a day old when they begin adding it to the training regimen. “Within a week … we will replicate.”
Jim Slavin, director of the Joint Training Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Operations Integration Center, at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said it was important for soldiers to understand the “IED is a device planted by people” who have political, religious or criminal reasons for what they are doing, have access to certain kinds of material and ways to pay for it.
An important ingredient of success is “understanding the network” that surrounded the placing of the device.
In the early days in Iraq, Oates said the United States learned much from the United Kingdom’s experience in Northern Ireland. It also has seen what the Canadians have done in simulation to better train Canadian soldiers in countering IEDs.
The United States is sharing its finding with NATO allies and helping train the Iraq and Afghan forces in countering these devices, Oates said.
Oates said, “I’ve got tremendous resources invested in technology and not much to show for it.”
Speaking at the event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he said that the found and clear rate in Iraq “was getting better, and the effective rate of the attacks – injuries, deaths and damaged vehicles -- was also going down.
In Afghanistan, where the number of incidents remains lower than Iraq during the peak of the insurgency, “all incident categories have more than doubled from 2008-2009. It is also a different kind of device than found in Iraq – more unsophisticated in make-up, often fertilizer placed in plastic containers, and sometimes wire detonated, but more commonly “victim-operated” when a person steps on or drives over two wooden boards connected by a spring acting as pressure plates, placed in roads.
Because the explosives in Afghanistan have very little metal in them, they are harder to detect.
To wage successful counterinsurgency warfare, soldiers need to be out with the civilian population. “We know it doesn’t work if they are confined to their vehicles." Oates asked for industry’s help in better protecting dismounted soldiers. “The solution is not to up-armor them.”
Gen. Ann Dunwoody, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, said that supporting efforts to defeat improvised explosive devices remain a top priority for her command.
Oates said in answer to a question about better detection, said, “I am professionally confused as to why we are not using more dogs.”
Burnett said, the key to long-term success in Afghanistan is: “They’ve got to know you’re coming back tomorrow.”
Tough Environment and Governance are Challenges in Afghanistan
“Afghanistan is a tough, tough environment,” the commanding general of Army Materiel Command told attendees at the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale.
Gen.Ann Dunwoody tours the exhibit hall at symposium
Speaking Feb. 25, Gen. Ann Dunwoody said, the “biggest challenge [in Afghanistan] is governance.”
In referring to current operations around Marjah in Helmand Province by announcing that coalition forces would be coming in, it “let the Afghan people have a choice” of leaving, staying with the Taliban or siding with the Afghan government. “The bottom line is to build trust.”
Adding, “You see signs … signs of hope” in the new counterinsurgency strategy.
Turning to the Iraq drawdown, she said, “This is PhD-level stuff” of removing the equivalents of 50 U.S. brigade combat teams. “We will do this methodically and professionally.”
Dunwoody said about one-third of the equipment that is coming out of Iraq has gone to Afghanistan.
In a meeting with reporters, she said, “Having been there with the Iron Mountains” of equipment left over following Desert Storm, “we had to have accountability of everything” in Iraq and “identify that stuff and where it is going.”
The millions of pieces of equipment in containers are being tracked with radio frequency identification equipment similar to that used by FedEx and UPS. For high value items, such as the all-terrain versions of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles being used in Afghanistan, satellites do the tracking.
The Army estimates that 3.2 million pieces of equipment is unit-owned and will be returned to the unit.
Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, the Army G-4, told the 5,000 attendees, “In every measurable way … we are ahead of the plan [but] one could argue we’ve done the easy part” of meeting the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline for U.S. forces leaving Iraq.
“We built great flexibility to get people in and out of Iraq.” Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason, deputy chief of staff G-4, U.S. Army Forces Command, said. The Army is using the ports of Kuwait and one port each in Iraq and Jordan. It is also using Baku, Azerbaijan to ship equipment to Afghanistan.
The 206,000 pieces non-standard equipment, gear bought for specific purposes and not through the normal acquisition process, poses a special problem for the army.
“We have a lot of equipment that doesn’t reside in our documents,” Dunwoody said.
Supplying spare parts complicates the matter. Since much of the equipment was bought with supplemental appropriations, they now are competing for sustainment dollars in the regular budget.
The reach-back capacity of AMC with its depots and industry helped efforts in Haiti. The rescue and recovery operations produced “a lot of great work in a very short time.”
For AMC, the Army Force Generation Model means “we have to protect soldiers’ dwell time when we reset equipment,” she said.
“We’ve got to get that equipment [tanks, fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery] into the hands of soldiers” on a tight schedule, Mason said, as they move into the train and ready phase of the force generation model.
Col. Kenneth Dyer, commander of the 406th Army Field Support Brigade, said the schedule for resetting equipment is 180 days for ground equipment for the active force, 270 days for aviation units and 360 days for the reserve components.
Durbin: Army Must Get Back in Balance
The foremost goal of the Army is to get itself back in balance, the special assistant to the chief of staff for enterprise management told attendees at the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition.
Speaking with attendees by video-teleconference Feb. 26, Lt. Gen. Robert Durbin said the Army Force Generation Model is key to balance and also looking to the future in aligning its business practices.
They provide “a unique opportunity” in “generating trained and ready forces at sustainable levels.”
Durbin said the designation of Joseph Westphal, under secretary of the Army, as the service’s chief management officer was an important step in aligning management systems that are integrated and innovative.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, said, “We need to change the culture of the Army to be more collaborative.”
Looking at network-based solutions, he said, “We must be able to talk to one another” with the necessary security protections in place. “We need standard-based solutions across the Army.”
“We can’t continue to buy [information technology] like a tank,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army’s chief information officer, said “because IT changes” rapidly.
The Army needs to get away from “bolt-on” systems and “work around integration solutions, he said. While realizing “the Army will never have everything the same,” there is a “need to standardize the packages” and be able to modernize them.
The way ahead is “leveraging commercial sector.” he said.
Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army’s modernization strategy looks at changing the Army about every five years by using a rolling two-year cycle. “We continue to be challenged in bringing together systems developed in stove-piped lanes.”
“Schedules matter; speed matters,” Lt. Gen. William Phillips, director of the Army Acquisition Corps, said.
Chiarelli added “We need to be listening to the right people … the soldiers at the edge.”
U.S Must Maintain ‘Competitive Edge’ in Technological Advances
The rest of the world is rapidly making advancements in science and technology, and it’s up to the Department of Defense and industry leaders to help the United States maintain a competitive edge, according to one of DoD’s top researchers.
Alan R. Shaffer, principal deputy director of defense research and engineering, cited the “rise of the commons” that has led to terrorists and other countries gaining a stronger foothold in science and technology.
This includes the use of cyberspace – “things we don’t own” – and commercial technology such as cell phones and other wireless devices that could threaten national security.
“We must embrace the fact the rest of the world is getting better,” Shaffer said. “We have to keep up … develop jobs for scientists and engineers.”
He added that even if a soldier is “wired up,” there is still the importance of intelligent information management to continue the flow of data in cyberspace.
President Obama made a commitment when he took office to double basic defense research, and he hasn’t wavered from that, Shaffer said.
With the release of the latest DoD budget, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates continues to identify the need for increased development in science and technology, which saw an increase of $200 million.
Gates identified four themes in the latest budget: Taking care of people, especially wounded warriors; rebalancing the military; the acquisition process; and support of troops in the field.
Shaffer encouraged industry members to accelerate delivery of new technological capabilities “even if it’s only a 75 to 80 percent solution” because getting new equipment into the field will enhance development.
“We have to get technology out in the hands of warfighters and get feedback,” Shaffer said.
He also encouraged Army leaders to “challenge” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to make investments in their own research that could also have benefits for the Army.
The Army and the rest of the military should also continue to explore the use of what Shaffer called “commercial military hybrids” – technology developed in the civilian world that can be adapted by the military.
Relevant examples of past civilian/military applications include cell phones and other wireless devices, genetic engineering, lasers and unmanned vehicles.
Needed New Technology will get to Soldiers Every 2 Years
Even though the Future Combat Systems program was canceled last year, technology that was in development for FCS will still be relevant in the Army’s future.
Maj. Gen. George R. Harris, assistant military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said the Army will begin a cycle that will get new technology to soldiers every two years.
Nine infantry brigade combat teams will be the first to receive “increment one” technology, which contains “proven technologies” in precision attack weapon systems, networks, and manned and unmanned platforms.
Harris also touched on the new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program, which he said will be a “total life cycle acquisition.” It could take the GCV three to five years to reach the field, but it will be developed to encompass all aspects of training, maintenance, survivability and sustainment.
In contrast, the Mine Resistant Armored Protected (MRAP) vehicles and MRAP all-terrain vehicles were all fielded in less than a year’s time, and, while they were “something we needed right away,” that speed didn’t address the vehicles’ overall life cycle in the Army.
New Technology Evolving Rapidly for Vehicles and Soldier Equipment
|The combination of rapidly evolving technology with the mission complexities of today’s Army has caused a “paradigm shift” with the science and technology community.
Thomas Bagwell, program executive office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, likened it to getting a new truck into production for the Army.
Maj. Gen. Nickolas Justice moderates a panel on cutting edge technology for the soldier.
The Army can’t simply buy a truck, but researchers have to develop a whole vehicle platform that can be incorporated for current soldier use while keeping an eye toward future capabilities.
“No longer can we buy an end device, but we have to look at an integrated solution,” Maj. Gen. Nickolas G. Justice, commander of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), said.
The result has given researchers the freedom to incorporate new technology nearly anywhere throughout the design and development process of a product, whether it’s a vehicle or basic equipment a soldier carries into combat.
Instead of development focusing on an end product, it’s a non-linear process that allows for new technology to be incorporated along the way.
At the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, scientists and engineers are sent out in the field to compile information from soldiers and see how equipment and vehicles are used, according to Natick’s director, Marilyn Freeman.
Natick communicates with other centers within RDECOM to create a “community of interest” to look at and solve problems.
Likewise at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, “We really are coordinating and integrating efforts as technology develops,” Grace M. Bochenek, the center’s director, said. “We pay attention to timelines and portfolios of these systems.”
A non-linear problem set also means basic research and constantly investing in research in Army core capabilities, such as basic power generation and storage, Justice said.
Game Changing Technology Comes from Research
John M. Miller, director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), likens research there to being “the bottom of the food chain,” but that research is essential in bringing new technology to use in the Army.
“We try to understand where that next technology jump with be and how it can be used in the Army,” Miller said.
While it may be the roots to research, Maj. Gen. Nickolas G. Justice, commander, Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, calls it “game changing technology.”
For example, when the idea of using robots came about, ARL researchers investigated ways it could be used by soldiers, Miller said. As a result, robots have gone from science fiction to essential unmanned ground vehicles incorporated by soldiers on the battlefield.
Research also means looking outside ARL for new technologies.
A few years ago, a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed an explosives detector. ARL as well as DARPA became involved, and that technology has been developed to be used with more than 2,000 that have been field in hand-held devices and iRobot ground vehicles.
Another technology went from being a “laboratory curiosity” to being developed as a less-expensive and more capable infrared imaging system known as C-QWIP, or Corrugated Quantam Well Infrared Photodetector, which Army Materiel Command had on display at its exhibit in Fort Lauderdale.
Army Capstone Concept: A Guide to Full Spectrum Operations
The only thing certain about future conflicts is that they will be operated in a realm of uncertainty, according to a four-member panel discussing the development of the latest Army Capstone Concept on Feb. 25.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey speaking at AUSA's 2010 Winter Symposium.
While the U.S. military was buil t up during the Cold War with a clearly defined enemy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown how the military will likely confront adapting and evolving adversaries in the future.
The Army Capstone Concept, released in December, is a 32-page guide in full spectrum operations.
“It is a document of our articulation of what our nation needs from the Army,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said. “It drives the development of other documents. Warfighting concepts are nested in the Capstone Concept.”
The primary focus is on leaders – officers, NCOs and civilians – and puts a premium on understanding culture and re-assessing and adapting based on interactions, Brig. Gen. Herbert R. McMaster Jr., director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center's Concepts Development and Experimentation Directorate, said. Leaders will have to deal in human interactions and the psycological realms of conflict.
Adaptibility and flexibility should also be taken under consideration when assessing and developing equipment, Rickey E. Smith, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (Forward), said. Equipment needs to be modular and capable of receiving upgrades.
And while new advances in technology should be ignored, technology shouldn’t be followed “just for technology’s sake. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you have to,” Smith said.
Clinton J. Ancker III, director of the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, added that technology may provide an advantage, but that is generally fleeting because adversaries adapt and catch up quicker.
During an earlier session, Dempsey said the Capstone Concept implies the best information comes from the bottom up, not the top down, and the Army has to train to understand that. The human dimension is involved at the lowest tactical levels – leaders are grounded in tactics but also have to integrate their capabilities with the environment they are put into.
A key element to cultivating soldiers’ knowledge is to help them understand that they are in a learning environment as soon as they enter the Army, and it continues until they retire or separate, Dempsey said. Gaining knowledge isn’t necessarily something that takes place just while on duty.
“Competiveness is the norm today ... we have to prevail in the competitive learning environment to allow us to stay ahead,” Dempsey said.
Unmanned Aerial Systems Work in Sync with Manned Aircraft for Mission Effectiveness
While the role of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) increased greatly in the Army over the past several years, they are by no means seen as a one-for-one replacement for manned aircraft.
Col. Christopher B. Carlile speaking
at AUSA's Winter Symposium.
||Speaking Feb. 26, Col. Christopher B. Carlile, director of the UAS Center of Excellence, said that during simulations when manned systems were used independently, it showed positive aspects as well as limitations, and likewise when UAS were used independently. |
However, when manned and unmanned systems were paired together, mission success “went off the scale” in terms of effectiveness.
Army UAS gives ground commanders unlimited kinetic and non-kinetic options to engage targets, Carlile said. They are provided “actionable intelligence” all the way through operations.
The important thing to remember is that even though the term is “unmanned,” there are still soldiers on the ground behind the vehicles. Operators have more of a scout mentality and are not “just looking at a screen or playing a video game,” Carlile said.
UAS operators coordinate with other air assets, including those from other services, and soldiers on the ground seek them out before beginning a mission to get a better feel for what they are facing, Carlile said.
Despite UAS complexities, “the airspace isn’t chaos” over Iraq and Afghanistan, Carlile said. The enlisted UAS operators work with the Air Force on procedural and position controls.
The evolution of UAS use in the Army has grown exponentially from when they were incorporated in the 1970s for just target and battle damage assessment. Now, in addition, they are relied on for ISR payloads, target acquisition and attack and communication relays.
In the future, they will have an even bigger multi-purpose role to include providing sustainment and cargo, target engagement/attack and aerial network layers, as well as increased reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities.
Carlile expects more than 800 Army UAS operators to be trained this fiscal year.