Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program
We are piloting the new Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program (ALCP), a 2½-day course focusing on developing better civilian leadership. FY12 offerings will be available for courses running from February through July. Contact your command Acquisition Career Management Advocate if you are interested in attending. The two levels of ALCP, with areas of focus, are:
ALCP I (GS-12/13, O-3/O-4)
- Personal leadership strengths and weaknesses.
- Preferred leadership styles.
- Modeling leadership challenges.
- Using power to increase productivity.
- Cultural traits that affect organizational performance.
- Practical solutions to personnel issues.
- Setting and achieving goals.
ALCP II (GS-14/15, O-5/O-6)
- Comprehensive look at personal leadership strengths, weaknesses, preferences, styles, and behaviors.
- Leadership styles and their effects on individual and team performance.
- Dynamics of conflict: sources, nature, and techniques to influence outcomes.
- Improving group communication.
- Collaborative teamwork.
- Effective enterprise leadership.
- Supports and barriers to success in the acquisition environment.
- Setting goals and developing practical strategies to reach them.
Training with Industry
This is a 10-to-12-month rotational opportunity for Acquisition Officers (O-3 to O-5) to work side by side with industry. Current participating companies for Army acquisition in FY12 are: Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Coca-Cola Co., Cisco Systems Inc., EADS North America Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., Computer Sciences Corp., Intel Corp., General Dynamics Corp., and Boeing Co. For more information, please contact your assignment officer. Contact information is at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/protect/branches/officer/FS/Acquisition/Acquistion_Contact__Information.htm.
DAU Senior Service College Fellowship
The 2012-13 Defense Acquisition University – Senior Service College Fellowship (DAU-SSCF) announcement is open through March 15, 2012, to all eligible GS-14s and 15s who have met their current position certification requirements. For more information, visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-senior-service-college/announcement/.
Federal Executive Institute Announcement
The Federal Executive Institute (FEI) Leadership for a Democratic Society announcement is open through June 13. Any interested GS-15s who have met their position certification requirement should read the announcement at http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/federal-executive-institute-leadership-for-a-democratic-society/ for additional information and details on specific offerings and submission requirements. Starting this fiscal year, any applicant for FEI must have either completed the Civilian Education System (CES) Advanced Course or received equivalency or constructive credit before submitting an FEI application. Interested applicants should visit the website on CES course credit at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/chrtas/help/CES_Course_Credit.asp.
School of Choice
The School of Choice announcement will be open from March 12 through May 7 to full-time career civilian Army Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology workforce members in GS-11 through -15 and equivalent pay bands within a demonstration project who have met their position certification requirements. The announcement at http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/school-of-choice/ provides additional information and details on how to apply for this opportunity.
Naval Postgraduate School – Master of Science in Program Management
The Naval Postgraduate School – Master of Science in Program Management announcement will be open from March 19 through May 21 to all eligible personnel in GS-11 through GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent who have met their current position certification requirement. For more information, visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/naval-postgraduate-school-master-of-science-in-program-management/announcements/.
Defense Acquisition University Training
- The FY13 Defense Acquisition University (DAU) class schedule will be available for registration beginning May 17. Students are encouraged to plan and apply early for DAU training. Applying early will improve their chances of getting the class in the timeframe requested. Please apply through the Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) Internet Training Application System (AITAS) at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. For more information on DAU training, including step-by-step instructions, definition of training priorities, or frequently asked questions, please visit http://asc.army.mil/career/programs/dau/default.cfm. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, be sure you attend the class as planned.
- The timeframe for DAU course cancellations is 30 calendar days from the date the student receives a reservation. Cancellations for a confirmed reservation must be received at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier. Cancellations submitted after that deadline must have general officer or Senior Executive Service member approval, per Department of the Army DAU Training Policy and Procedures signed Dec. 9, 2011, online at http://asc.army.mil/docs/programs/dau/DAU_Training_Policy_&_Procedures.pdf. Students placed on wait status should revisit the class wait(s) and cancel as necessary. If a student rolls into a reservation from a wait within 30 days of the class start date, the student will be held to the 30-calendar-day cancellation policy.
- To address the shortfall in Level II contracting classes, six commercial vendors and four universities offer equivalent classes. The vendors continue to teach the FY11 Contracting courses in FY12, and the courses are valid predecessors to the new FY12 courses until Sept. 30, 2013. More information on equivalencies is at the DAU website http://icatalog.dau.mil/appg.aspx. If you are unable to obtain CON 280 or CON 290 during FY12 and would like to use Section 852 funds to pay for an equivalent provider, please request approval from your command to attend training. If approved for training by the command, the Section 852/Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund program manager for that command will request funding from the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Section 852 manager by submitting a Program Request Form for FY11, found at https://www.usaasc.info/section852_cms. The point of contact is Jack Kendall at email@example.com.
- On Dec. 12, 2011, DAU released CON 170E, Fundamentals of Cost and Price Analysis Equivalency Examination. CON 170E allows students to test out of taking the two-week resident CON 170 course. If a person does not meet the Deputy Director, Acquisition Career Management waiver requirements for CON 170, he or she has the option to fulfill CON 170 by passing the exam. Students opting to take the equivalent exam must receive a grade of at least 80 percent. Prerequisite CLC 058 (in the DAU Digital Library) is required for entry to take the exam. Students interested in taking the exam in lieu of attending the resident CON 170 portion may apply at ATRRS AITAS: https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. For more information on the CON 170E exam, the concept card has more information: http://icatalog.dau.mil/onlinecatalog/courses.aspx?crs_id=1898.
- To address the shortfall in Level II business, cost, and financial management (BCFM) courses, the Army is placing only first-priority students into available BCFM classes. Level II courses are available on the FY12 schedule. DAU has expanded classroom size from 24 to 28-30 in 4th-quarter FY11 and all FY12 course offerings, specifically the following courses: BCF 203, BCF 205, BCF 206, BCF 211, and BCF 215. An additional 680 seats were added to the FY12 schedule in light of additional offerings and an increase in class size. The demand is due to a temporary surge of BCFM certification requirements, along with an increase in BCFM workforce members needing certification. The Army will continue to request that more seats be added to the FY12 schedule. For experienced BCFM personnel, fulfillment of the course is recommended. For more information, go to http://icatalog.dau.mil/DAUFulfillmentPgm.aspx.
- DAU has successfully procured a commercial-off-the-shelf new Student Information System to replace the current distinct DAU registration systems for the four services. The web-based system, named PORTICO, will interface with DAU and DoD systems, AITAS, and CAMP/CAPPMIS. Army workforce members will be able to authenticate using a DoD Common Access Card. PORTICO will standardize functionality and capability, allowing more transparency and up-to-date status information for students applying for DAU courses. The system is in the Business Requirements Review phase, with initial operating capability planned for January 2013. For more information, go to http://www.dau.mil/sis/default.aspx.
The U.S. Army’s Product Director Non-Standard Vehicles (PD NSV) is providing the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) with key maneuver capabilities that are critical to expediting the strategic drawdown of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
In 2005 NATO’s Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan began equipping the ANSF with the Ford Ranger J97 Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) to enhance the ANSF’s tactical capabilities and its ability to secure and stabilize Afghanistan. The ANSF includes the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA); both branches heavily use the LTVs to carry out their mission of security and peacekeeping.
The LTV fleet has four variants—the cargo, mobile maintenance, police, and tactical ambulance vehicles. The Ford Ranger J97 light cargo pickup truck is the most commonly used vehicle in the ANSF. To date, more than 31,000 LTVs have been fielded to the ANA and ANP. An additional 10,000 are scheduled to be fielded by the end of 2012.
“At nearly 26,000 vehicles, the police variant is the highest-density vehicle in the ANSF fleet,” said LTC Graham Compton, PD NSV. “This variant is solely used by the ANP, while the cargo vehicle variant is used solely by the ANA.”
The remaining two variants, the ambulance and mobile maintenance vehicles, are used by both the ANP and ANA.
“Based on feedback from the field, the Ford Ranger LTV has been a dependable workhorse for the ANSF,” said Compton. “It is probably the most reliable and important asset to the ANSF, meeting the essential equipment needs to strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces, enabling them to take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.”
The LTVs are commercially acquired through Global Fleet Sales (GFS), an authorized Ford dealer. GFS is responsible for the integration of 31 modifications to the vehicles, equipping the fleet to effectively fulfill its mission and operate in an austere environment.
In April 2011, the Army’s Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support established the [Product Director Non-Standard Vehicles] with the mission to provide life-cycle management of non-standard commercial light tactical, medium tactical, sport utility, and bus vehicle fleets for the ANSF.
Some of the modifications include the addition of provisions to carry and store weapons, a heavy-duty suspension package to increase mobility, and a robust vehicle collision protection package to improve winch and towing capabilities. The integration of an environmental package ensures cold-start operations in extremely low temperatures. The combination of these integrations with the extended-range fuel tank and the severe off-road package permits the ANA and ANP to stay in contact and to protect citizens in areas that are difficult for basic commercial vehicles to navigate.
In April 2011, the Army’s Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS) established the PD NSV with the mission to provide life-cycle management of non-standard commercial light tactical, medium tactical, sport utility, and bus vehicle fleets for the ANSF. PD NSV’s mission is a critical component of U.S. combat forces’ overall transition plan.
“The ANSF lacked the logistical infrastructure, trained maintainers, and supply parts needed to effectively sustain the high density vehicle fleet,” said COL William Boruff, Project Manager Joint Combat Support Systems in PEO CS&CSS. “It was at this point that the Army tasked us to develop cradle-to-grave, life-cycle management to provide the ANSF with the capacity to be self-sustaining and independently conduct security operation missions.”
PD NSV supports future fleet acquisition requirements and validates total fleet requirements in country. It also develops and provides training manuals, and facilitates training for the ANSF.
“The stand-up of this organization shows the responsiveness of the acquisition community and leadership to the warfighter’s needs. Within a month of notification, the organization was chartered, resourced, and began providing vital program management support to the ANSF. We have made numerous trips to the Area of Responsibility, been integrated into the Foreign Military Sales teams and processes, and have provided timely and responsive results to meet warfighters’ needs,” said Compton.
This month, PD NSV will begin testing two Police LTVs at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, to capture performance and reliability data. Results will help improve the technical specifications for future acquisitions of similar vehicles.
Other vehicles such as Navistar’s 7000 series Medium Tactical Vehicle, the Ford Everest Sport Utility Vehicles, and Blue Bird and Navistar Buses are also being supplied to the ANSF. Afghanistan’s terrain and environment demand the use of a diverse fleet of vehicles. This diversity, and the accompanying maintenance and management issues, clearly illustrate the need to educate, equip, and sustain the ANSF’s ability to manage and maintain a diverse fleet long after U.S. combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
- CYNTHIA MERRITT is a Strategic Communications Specialist for Project Manager Force Projection. She is currently pursuing a B.S. in integrated leadership studies from Central Michigan University.
- ALVIN BING is an Assistant Product Manager for Non-Standard Light Tactical Vehicles. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and an M.B.A. from New York Institute of Technology. He is Level III certified in program management, systems engineering, and program systems engineering and Level II certified in production, quality, and manufacturing. Bing is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps member.
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) completed destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD), UT, on Jan. 21.
With the elimination of the Utah chemical weapons stockpile, CMA has safely destroyed nearly 90 percent of the Nation’s stockpile of chemical agent and has successfully completed its mission to destroy all chemical agent munitions and items declared at entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and assigned to CMA for destruction. The CWC, an international treaty ratified by the United States in April 1997, required the complete destruction of the Nation’s chemical weapons stockpile by April 2007. The United States was granted a five-year extension to April 2012, as allowed by the treaty.
“Completing destruction of this stockpile mission is a worthy and important accomplishment,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh. “This demonstrates our commitment to the elimination of chemical weapons, enhancing safety and security for our workforce, our communities, and the nation.”
The safe destruction of 27,473.65 U.S. tons of nerve and blister agents represents 89.75 percent of the Nation’s chemical agent stockpile and is the culmination of more than 20 years of work by thousands of men and women at seven chemical demilitarization facilities around the Nation.
“CMA’s workforce—government and contractor—has shown the utmost dedication to our mission,” said CMA Director Conrad Whyne. “Many of them have committed their professional lives to chemical weapons disposal. It was only through their dedication and expertise that CMA and the Army were able to complete this mission.”
The completion of CMA’s chemical stockpile elimination mission was accomplished at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) at DCD. The TOCDF was CMA’s last operating chemical demilitarization facility. CMA’s previously completed chemical agent destruction operations are:
- 2000— Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System, South Pacific (closed).
- 2005—Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, MD (closed).
- 2008—Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, IN (closed).
- 2010—Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, AR (closure in progress).
- 2011—Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, AL (closure in progress).
- 2011—Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, OR (closure in progress).
“The safe destruction of more than 2.2 million chemical nerve and blister agent munitions and bulk containers at seven demilitarization facilities is a remarkable accomplishment for the CMA workforce at each site and systems contractors who operated each facility,” said Heidi Shyu, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. “It also is a tribute to the cooperative spirit of the local officials, regulators, and communities. Reaching this milestone has been a team effort—a team I’m proud to be part of.”
CMA continues to provide ongoing assessment and destruction of recovered chemical warfare materiel through its Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project.
CMA also retains the mission to safely and securely store the chemical agent stockpiles at Richmond, KY, and Pueblo, CO. Those stockpiles will be destroyed by the U.S. Army Element Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), a separate DoD program. CMA will continue its partnership with ACWA to share the lessons learned from its successful chemical stockpile elimination program. CMA will also continue to manage the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, a joint Army/Federal Emergency Management Agency effort that provides emergency preparedness assistance to the communities surrounding chemical weapon stockpiles.
For more information, including video and audio clips, visit http://www.cma.army.mil/cse_end_of_ops.aspx.
—CMA Public Affairs Office
This is a regular column by Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, on activities in the Army science and technology (S&T) community and their potential impact on Army acquisition programs.
First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. There are a lot of exciting, significant events scheduled in 2012, and I will be updating these happenings for you in this column throughout the year.
Since my last monthly update, DoD received an appropriation bill, and the Army’s science and technology portfolio was funded for FY12. Also, I took part in the Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) session in Washington, DC, on Dec. 5-6. The BAST focused on “The Army’s Approach to Achieving a Common Operating Environment” (COE). We collected key comments and perspectives on the COE implementation strategy and how it might be improved by considering other large commercial efforts in which standardization of protocol across heterogeneous processing and organizational domains has been pursued. A follow-on session in February will explore options further and probably wrap up efforts in this area.
On Dec. 7, we had the honor of Ms. Heidi Shyu, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology hosting the Army Science Board Awards Ceremony. The awards recognized the dedication and devotion of 15 members who have served for up to 14 years on the board, where they made a significant contribution in furthering national defense objectives. The 10 awardees in attendance were presented with the Superior Civilian Service Award, Commanders Award for Civilian Service, or the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.
In late November, I briefed the newly formed 2012 Army Science Board on interim observations related to S&T breakthrough areas with potential payoff for Army Acquisition in the next decade. This was well received, and valuable feedback was provided from the board’s study of the Army’s S&T Enterprise.
As part of continuing external engagements related to academia, industry, and government labs, I visited with members of the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials. Drs. John Gillespie, Shridhar Yarlagadda, Dirk Heider, and Dan Molligan were my hosts. Together, we reviewed their research and teaming partnerships and examined their laboratory and prototyping facilities.
The U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, hosted a review for me of ongoing research and field support for space and terrestrial communications. This capability within our government technical community is quite impressive, filling a valuable niche in ensuring high-quality migration of best commercial practices and unique military capabilities to our warfighters.
I also visited DuPont’s Spruance and Magellan manufacturing plants near Richmond, VA, accompanied by COL Lary Chinowsky, my Special Assistant. The visit included an in-depth discussion of the development and current state of the art in aramid fiber technology, as well as a tour of the processing plant. Discussion extended into current trends in both the fiber and textile industries, including unique and common attributes between the military and DuPont’s commercial customers.
I will give the keynote address at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems Program Review 2012’s Ground Systems Day, Feb. 7, in Washington, DC. Again, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.
Previous S&T Notebook Articles:
Looking to the Future (2 December 2011)
Taking the Pulse (1 November 2011)
Exploring Partnerships with Israel (27 September 2011)
Army Chief Scientist to Make Regular Contributions to USAASC Publications (2 September 2011)
Student teams from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School Global MBA Program presented commercialization plans for eight military medicine projects in December, marking the first such DoD/university technology transfer partnership.
The military projects were all sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (USAMRMC TATRC). TATRC joined with Johns Hopkins’ new Global MBA Program in its Discovery to Market Project, or D2M, a required yearlong course in which students develop a business plan for translating a scientific discovery into a technology with commercial potential.
The TATRC researchers were among several high-technology partners working with the students. TATRC projects included in the program were as diverse as an e-learning system for surgical skills, a wearable robotic arm, and a mobile diabetes self-care system.
TATRC’s Director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Ron Marchessault, said he approached Hopkins about participating in the project because he felt it could be a useful part of TATRC’s wider commercialization program. TATRC has an innovative Technology Transfer Program to partner federally funded research and development with private-sector investment to advance new technologies that could improve the care of the warfighter.
Marchessault and Carey Business School Interim Dean Dr. Phillip Phan and other staff members worked out a collaboration that would aid in TATRC’s goal of translating research into new products to advance the care of the Nation’s warfighters.
The D2M program gave the students vital experience in applying business theory to assist high-tech start-up companies in the Baltimore-Washington region. At the same time, it provided invaluable input that may help speed promising technologies to market to address the health needs of servicemembers.
The D2M program gave the students vital experience in applying business theory to assist high-tech start-up companies in the Baltimore-Washington region. At the same time, it provided invaluable input that may help speed promising technologies to market to address the health needs of servicemembers.
“The intellectual property research and in-depth marketing analyses the students provided these scientists and small companies for free could easily have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Dr. Toby Gordon, the D2M course director. “The students were enthusiastic and brought all of the resources of Johns Hopkins to bear on their projects.”
Dr. Yiming Chen of Johns Hopkins, who managed the TATRC student projects, noted that most of the inventors who were surveyed, were thrilled with the quality of the students’ work.
“We were very pleased to have such rigorous, objective analyses for these projects regarding what would be needed to create a viable product and who would buy it,” said Marchessault. “The D2M partnership is helpful to our efforts to apply federal research dollars where they will have the greatest benefit, and we look forward to working with the next class of students.”
- BARB RUPPERT is a science and technology writer for USAMRMC TATRC. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in education from Virginia Tech.
A medical research contract established through the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) – Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), MD, has led to the nation’s first full-face transplant and the first combination face-and-hands transplant.
This contract was established as part of a biomedical translational initiative directed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Natick Contracting Division Deputy Chief, to advance the treatment of military members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The request for proposal was issued with a goal to fund the demonstration and validation of innovative technologies to improve the clinical outcome of wounded warriors,” Bouchard said. “The plan was to discover technologies that would restore wounded warriors to active duty, improve the form or function of service members, or assist in reclaiming their independence in daily living tasks. I never dreamed that a biomedical translational initiative would result in a medical outcome at the magnitude of face transplantation.”
The solicitation was released in May 2009 with instructions that winning proposals would be funded under negotiated contracts. According to Bouchard, there were 24 offers; of these, four were in the competitive range. The source selection team chose the University of Pittsburgh, PA, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, MA. BWH received a $3.4 million contract for face transplantation to treat severe facial deformity. The University of Pittsburgh was awarded a $1.6 million contract to treat devastating facial injuries using innovative fat tissue grafting techniques.
According to COL Janet R. Harris, Ph.D., Director of the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, MD, improvised explosive device injuries account for 26 percent of facial injury.
“I envision a very strong partnership with the military medical community. This partnership will leverage the strengths of both parties to benefit the wounded warrior.”
Under the contract with BWH, three face transplants have been completed to date. Before the transplant, the patient must be deemed an acceptable candidate.
“To be deemed eligible for a face transplant, the patient must have suffered extreme disfigurement,” said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, Director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation at BWH. “An eligible patient has injuries that typically include extensive loss of soft tissues, underlying muscles, cartilage, or bone that render conventional surgical methods ineffective. The candidate must have lost at least 25 percent of the face and at least one major structural unit such as nose or lips.”
According to Pomahac, the appearance of the donor is not likely to be replicated in the recipient. The recipient’s underlying facial bones and muscle will change the shape of the facial tissue graft from the donor and will largely determine its shape and final appearance. During the 10- to 15-hour surgery, one team of medical professionals removes the facial graft from the donor as another team prepares the recipient for the new face. The team works to connect the blood vessels between the donor face and the patient to restore circulation before the nerves, bone, cartilage, and muscles are connected.
“Once the vessel flow is reestablished and circulating, the face comes alive,” said Pomahac. “To integrate the face, each nerve of the donor face must be dissected and then reconnected to the responding nerves of the recipient. Connecting the nerves is not easy work and must be performed under a microscope. To put it in perspective, one nerve is the size of 10 to 15 pieces of hair.”
Following the surgery, the transplant recipient will gradually regain functionality in the face as well as inside the mouth to enable smiling and facial animation. “After approximately three months of healing, the facial sensation will be restored,” Pomahac said. “In six to nine months, regeneration of the motor functions will occur, and over time we expect many more improvements.”
The procedure involves taking fat from part of the body and grafting it into the head and face to precisely shape facial form, said Dr. J. Peter Rubin, Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Co-Director of Adipose Stem Cell Research at the University of Pittsburgh. “Although fat grafting has been used for several decades for cosmetic purposes, this study will be the first time that this technology is used to accurately restore form.”
Rubin said surgeons can rebuild the facial bone structure, but there is still an unmet need in the precise restoration of facial features. “Although we can reconstruct bony structures very well, it is the surrounding soft tissue that gives a person recognizable features.”
Specially designed equipment and surgical instruments were created for these procedures. Patients who benefit include those with visible facial deformities that can be corrected by filling in defects or cavities. To date, Rubin and his team have completed 14 procedures.
“I envision a very strong partnership with the military medical community. This partnership will leverage the strengths of both parties to benefit the wounded warrior,” Rubin said.
- BETSY KOZAK is the Public Affairs Liaison and Budget Analyst with the ACC – APG. She holds a B.S. from Excelsior College and an M.S. in organizational leadership from Wilmington University. Kozak is Level II certified in business-financial management. She is also a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute and a Certified Defense Financial Manager through the American Society of Military Comptrollers.
Combat medics could soon have a new vital signs monitoring device in their first aid kits to help accurately evaluate and track the condition of wounded warriors, from the point of injury on the battlefield through the medical evacuation process to an emergency room. The Wireless Vital Signs Monitor (WVSM), designed by a partnership of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR), the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and Athena GTX and approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, began the final phase of approval in September 2011 with clinical trials at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center emergency department and on the Life Flight air critical care medical transport service, both in Houston, TX.
The WVSM is a small, lightweight device that measures and records a patient’s electrocardiogram; heart rate; pulse oximeter; and noninvasive systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressures. The information can then be transmitted to a medic’s laptop, smartphone, or electronic tablet, where it incorporates additional patient information, such as trends, pulse pressure, shock index, heart rate variability, and complexity indices, and calculates the percentage probability of needing a life-saving intervention using technology that incorporates artificial intelligence and advanced artificial neural networks.
“This device incorporates technology developed at the ISR to provide users with information on the patient condition, not just raw data from the patient sensors,” said Jose Salinas, Ph.D., Research Task Area Program Manager, Combat Critical Care Engineering at USAISR. “It’s the first monitor that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.”
The WVSM, which is strapped to a patient’s arm or leg, captures all vital signs from the point of injury. It is capable of transmitting and downloading the information to a hospital’s emergency department monitoring system. Unlike current monitoring devices that provide medics with only a basic set of vital signs, the WVSM tells medics when a patient’s condition is getting worse even when there aren’t outward physical signs.
“If a patient has lost a lot of blood, standard vital signs may not fully represent how he is doing,” said Salinas. “Our bodies compensate for blood loss through different mechanisms that can mask the true severity of the injury.”
“This device incorporates technology developed at the [U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research] to provide users with information on the patient condition, not just raw data from the patient sensors.”
The WVSM trial is funded through a grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and is being administered by the National Trauma Institute. This collaborative effort is also allowing engineers at the USAISR and the Army to develop the next generation of WVSM by incorporating state-of-the-art computer technology with advanced digital signal processing algorithms to produce smart vital-signs monitors.
“We are working on making it better,” said Salinas. “We can expect a new version in one to two years.”
The current WVSM uses electronic wires to connect the pulse oximeter that attaches to a patient’s finger and the electrodes that are placed on the chest. These wires could get cut or damaged during treatment or while removing garments from the patient.
“The new version will eliminate these wires,” Salinas said. “This device, and all of the research projects at the ISR, are aimed at optimizing combat casualty care and minimizing preventable death for our combat-wounded.”
- STEVEN GALVAN is the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. He holds an M.H.R. from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A.E. from the University of Phoenix. He is also a retired Navy Journalist Senior Chief.
A crew from the popular television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition recently installed a physical therapy exercise game developed at the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) in a house built for Iraq war veteran SSG Allen Hill, who suffered injuries and needed to be able to do customized rehabilitation exercises at home.
“This is a researcher’s dream come true,” said ICT’s Belinda Lange, who specializes in creating virtual reality game-based applications for motor rehabilitation. She developed the Jewel Mine game that was installed in Hill’s home. “To be able to see your work make it out of the lab and make a real impact on someone’s life is truly amazing.”
Lange did see her work move from the lab into Hill’s life. Literally.
The show’s production crew invited her to the construction site in Ottawa, KS, where she oversaw the installation of her Xbox 360 Kinect-based game and demonstrated how it could easily be tailored specifically for Hill’s rehabilitation goals.
“The beauty of adapting off-the-shelf gaming systems, like the Microsoft Kinect, for rehabilitation is that we can adjust them for each user, and we can also record the user’s movements and track progress,” said Lange. “There is a need to modify existing games, which are often too difficult for physical therapy patients or just don’t target the areas they need.”
Jewel Mine is a balance training game designed for people, like Hill, who have suffered brain injury or other physical or neurological injuries. Players must extend their arms and reach for jewels that light up in various patterns during the game.
“In order to improve motor function lost due to physical and brain injuries, patients need to perform the same motions over and over,” said Lange. “These exercises are repetitive by design, and that can get boring. Putting them in a game setting helps to keep users motivated.”
“The beauty of adapting off-the-shelf gaming systems, like the Microsoft Kinect, for rehabilitation is that we can adjust them for each user, and we can also record the user’s movements and track progress.”
Hill certainly seemed motivated. (Watch the scene where Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington reveals the game to him online at http://youtu.be/cZn0ee4sevk.)
As for Lange, she, too, is motivated to continue her work. She recently received funding from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Army Research Office and the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, to modify and evaluate the game at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.
She will be watching her study subject’s progress as well as that of SSG Hill.
“Sergeant Hill was an inspiration,” she said. “I can’t wait to go back to Kansas to check on him and get more feedback on our project.”
For more information about ICT’s Motor Rehab Lab, visit http://medvr.ict.usc.edu/labs/motor-rehab.
- ORLI BELMAN is the Public Relations and Projects Manager at the USC ICT. She has a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from UCLA and an M.A. in journalism from Columbia University.
This month, second lieutenants at the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, GA, begin interpersonal skills training with the help of SSG Jacob Garza, a virtual human that looks, moves, speaks, and behaves like a real person. Through conversations with this simulated squad leader—who offers consistent responses and never gets tired—young officers will experience what can go right and wrong during informal counseling sessions they may encounter on the job.
Virtual humans are in the Army now. SSG Garza is just the latest in a line of computer-generated characters created by the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). They serve as informational guides, supportive coaches, negotiation partners, practice patients, field interviewees, and more. ICT’s autonomous intelligent agents are just one example of how this Army University-Affiliated Research Center (UARC) combines techniques from Hollywood, gaming, and artificial intelligence to make a real impact on training for the Soldier.
“We are pushing the boundaries of storytelling and science to create meaningful experiences for Soldiers,” said ICT Executive Director Randall W. Hill Jr. “Whether we are creating virtual characters, educational movies, serious games, or immersive environments, our work is all about getting people engaged in order to provide more efficient and effective learning.”
Soldiers can practice stability and counterinsurgency operations using UrbanSim, a video game with built-in behavior and story engines, downloadable from the Army’s MilGaming website (https://milgaming.army.mil). Around 40,000 troops have experienced the Mobile Counter-IED Interactive Trainer, a portable, immersive classroom that ICT developed with industry partners, featuring fictional video vignettes and a computer game. Another system focused on training threat assessment during dismounted operations is expected to deploy soon.
“The USC Institute for Creative Technologies has been able to create virtual characters and make-believe worlds that deliver tangible improvements to how Soldiers learn, practice, and perform in the human dimension.”
With a body of work in virtual humans, first-person narratives, and social simulations, ICT is literally focused on people. In fact, the institute’s Light Stage process for creating digital faces results in such realism that it has been used in major motion pictures including Avatar and earned its inventors an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. But the emphasis at ICT is more than skin-deep. It is about humanizing technology through scenarios and personalities to improve skills in decision-making, cultural awareness, leadership, and coping, to name a few.
“The USC Institute for Creative Technologies has been able to create virtual characters and make-believe worlds that deliver tangible improvements to how Soldiers learn, practice, and perform in the human dimension,” said John Hart, ICT’s Program Manager at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Simulation Training and Technology Center in Orlando, FL.
In addition to Fort Benning’s SSG Garza, other ICT virtual humans include the life-size SGT Star virtual human demonstration. He was built for the U.S. Army Accessions Command to take on the road and field questions about Army life. The soon-to-be released SimCoach features Web-based characters that converse with anonymous users and point them to mental health resources. More virtual humans can be found in BiLAT, a cross-cultural negotiation-training game that is also available on MilGaming, and in Virtual Sick Call, a prototype for clinical skills practice.
ICT virtual characters and supporting architecture contributed to the Army’s Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer. Within Program Executive Office Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation, a Project Manager Constructive Simulation value engineering proposal deemed that incorporating ICT-based natural language capabilities in the project saved the Army close to $35 million.
“Many people don’t know that as an Army UARC, ICT can be task-ordered to develop a diverse array of prototypes,” said Hart. “They are able to make a difference in Soldiers’ lives before, during, and after deployment.”
Several ICT efforts expose troops to battlefield stress and decisions before they actually face them. The institute produced the film series Fallen Eagle for an Army Chaplaincy-led ethics training and recently began work on a medical virtual reality project that incorporates dramatic arcs to provide pre-deployment resilience training. Many of the visuals for this immersive experience come from Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan, the ICT-developed virtual reality exposure therapy for treating post-traumatic stress. Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan is in use in 55 military, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and university-based clinical sites, including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and National Intrepid Center of Excellence.
Other medically related projects include the development of customized motor rehabilitation games that can be used at home or in a clinic, and virtual worlds that provide evidence-based stress reduction techniques.
“People today are comfortable with computer-based systems for work and play,” said Hill. “Our goal is to transform them into tools for learning and healing.”
For more information about ICT, visit www.ict.usc.edu.
For video overviews of ICT programs, visit:
http://youtu.be/5y9bawuSR94 (ICT overview).
http://youtu.be/GL5Gerkc2fE (Virtual Human).
http://youtu.be/Wbtj_R5oN5w (Medical Virtual Reality).
http://youtu.be/Fh9gIswxbvU (Mixed Reality).
http://youtu.be/E1BKaKnx_fE (ICT Graphics Lab).
- ORLI BELMAN is the Public Relations and Projects Manager at the USC ICT. She has a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from UCLA and an M.A. in journalism from Columbia University.
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and public-private partners recently received recognition from Time magazine for the development of the RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate, when Time called the vaccine the second most momentous medical breakthrough of 2011.
Malaria is a major worldwide problem that is endemic to regions of strategic importance to the United States, such as tropical Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America. There are 300 million cases of malaria annually, with an estimated 1 million deaths. Infected pregnant women and children are prone to severe disease.
U.S. military personnel and others from non-endemic regions are also extremely susceptible to severe disease and/or death from malaria. The threat has a substantial impact on deployed U.S. military forces in malaria-endemic areas. Malaria has been a leading cause of non-battle injuries in every major U.S. conflict, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict, and Vietnam. Recent outbreaks have been reported in U.S. and allied troops returning from locations such as Somalia, South Korea, Liberia, French Guiana, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, and Afghanistan.
The trial to develop the RTS,S vaccine was conducted in 15,460 infants and children at 11 study sites across Africa. It demonstrated that the vaccine was 56 percent effective in protecting children 5 to 17 months old from malaria infection and was 47 percent effective in preventing severe cases of malaria. The final data will be available in 2014 when the trial is completed. The RTS,S Phase III field trial is the largest malaria vaccine trial ever conducted.
The RTS,S vaccine, the most advanced malaria vaccine ever created, represents over two decades of collaboration between WRAIR and key civilian partners, such as GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK). The WRAIR Malaria Vaccine Development Program has executed clinical testing of more than a dozen prototypes, leading up to the RTS,S particle. Using the WRAIR malaria challenge model, whereby humans are experimentally inoculated with malaria after vaccination, the U.S. Army conducted the first proof-of-concept clinical trial demonstrating the protective efficacy of RTS,S.
U.S. Army malaria vaccine researchers also participated in the first RTS,S clinical trial in Africa. Multiple clinical trials have been executed at WRAIR to optimize vaccine presentation and safety. Critical field-site testing for the current Phase III study is ongoing in western Kenya at the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Kenya, an overseas laboratory of WRAIR.
Research on the next-generation vaccine has already begun. Although the current RTS,S formulation protects against a very advanced parasite, individuals vaccinated with it would still be at risk of malaria after prolonged exposure because the vaccine is just above 50 percent effective; a military malaria vaccine must achieve 80 percent or greater efficacy to protect our warfighters.
As it continues to develop and test improvements to the RTS,S malaria vaccine in the clinic, WRAIR is joining with public-private partners such as GSK, Crucell NV, and the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative in an innovative trial to achieve greater efficacy by “boosting” the immune response to the RTS,S particle after “priming” the immune system with a combination of weakened virus and malaria parasite surface protein. The study volunteers will be malaria-naive adults, a target population that parallels deployable U.S. military personnel.
As a scientific leader in the field, the U.S. military malaria vaccine community is uniquely positioned to make a critical contribution at the crossroads of force protection and global public health. Given an increasing trend in global resistance to malaria drugs, the worldwide sickness, death toll, and cost of malaria, and the difficult task of protecting the fighting force, the development of an optimal malaria vaccine is a clear priority for the U.S. military medical research effort and our global health partners.
For more information, visit http://www.tatrc.org/conferences/ata_2011/abstract/Proctor_abstract.html.
- MAJ JASON A. REGULES is a Clinical Investigator and Chief of the Parasite Culture Lab at the WRAIR Malaria Vaccine Branch, on the staff at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Infectious Diseases Service, and an Assistant Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). He holds a B.S. in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior from the University of California at Davis and an M.D. from the USUHS. He completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, and is a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.
- COL CHRISTIAN F. OCKENHOUSE is Director of the WRAIR Malaria Vaccine Branch. He holds a B.S. from Wheaton College, an MSPH from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular parasitology from the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Science, and an M.D. from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and is a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.