• Money-Saving Energy Initiatives Spotlighted in Afghanistan

    Summer Barkley

    MAJ Thomas W. Casey, REF Team Chief, Afghanistan, briefs Frank Kendall, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs; and BG Bryan G. Watson, Director, Joint Engineering Directorate, USFOR-A, on solar power platforms used in the REF’s Energy to the Edge program to provide efficient power generation systems to combatant commanders of tactical units. (U.S. Army photo by Summer Barkley.)

    Cutting-edge technology and energy initiatives that bring energy-efficient power generation to forward-deployed units in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) were showcased to senior DoD personnel Jan. 8.

    Members of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade’s Field Assistance in Science and Technology Center (RFAST-C) and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) were also at the demonstrations.

    Frank Kendall, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics,  and Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, visited Camp Sabalu-Harrison at Bagram Airfield to see the first micro-grid emplaced in OEF. The micro-grid, which Burke’s office supported, is a joint venture involving Project Manager Mobile Electric Power (PM MEP) within Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical; U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), RFAST-C’s higher headquarters; and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A).

    The senior officials also saw several solar energy platforms that the REF uses in its Energy to the Edge initiative, providing portable energy solutions designed to operate more efficiently and to reduce fuel consumption and generator maintenance while storing excess energy to meet the energy requirements of combatant commanders in forward-operating tactical units.

    After briefings on the static displays, Burke discussed the future of the micro-grid project and a new program, the Energy Initiative Proving Ground (EIPG) that will establish a quantitative baseline for energy and fuel use in expeditionary operations and will systematically evaluate the impacts of technology such as higher-efficiency environmental control units, insulating thermal tent liners, tent shades, and hybrid solar-electrical power.

    The EIPG will also place a hybrid solar power system into a Village Stability Platform site for evaluation as a stable, reliable power source to reduce the fuel burden for critical command and control communication and surveillance systems.

    Burke noted that the successful demonstration of the micro-grid project was uncertain after PM MEP had to recall its subject-matter expert in December. Michael J. Zalewski, RFAST-C Power and Energy Engineer, volunteered to steward Camp Sabalu-Harrison and the micro-grid to keep it operational and developed a memorandum of agreement among the RDECOM senior officer in OEF, PM MEP, and the camp mayor to share responsibilities. In the spring, primary power is slated to be run to the site, and the micro-grid will no longer be required.

    Burke thanked LTC Alan C. Samuels, RFAST-C Director; U.S. Navy CDR Dane Honrado, Camp Sabalu-Harrison Life Support Area Commander; MAJ Thomas W. Casey, REF Team Chief, Afghanistan; and Zalewski for their work on energy initiatives.

    • SUMMER BARKLEY is the Public Affairs Officer for 401st Army Field Support Brigade at Bagram, Afghanistan. She holds a B.A. in history from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree in public administration from Troy University. She has completed the Public Affairs Officers Course at Defense Information School.

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  • Afghan National Army Receives Mobile Strike Force Vehicles

    Bill Good

    This Mobile Strike Force Vehicle (MSFV) Armored Personnel Carrier with Gunner’s Protective Kit is one of three variants of the MSFV, which is based on a modified, updated version of a Textron Marine and Land Systems vehicle platform design. The modifications to the MSFV allow for additional protection while still utilizing commercial-off-the-shelf parts. (Photo by Textron Marine and Land Systems.)

    The U.S. Army has taken another significant step forward in the strategic withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan with the shipment of the first 18 production Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFVs) to theater.

    These 18 vehicles, shipped in November 2011, are the first of 281 MSFVs that will be provided to the Afghan National Army (ANA) to enable a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) capability, which will be critical once U.S. forces begin their drawdown. 

    “The MSFV provides each QRF Kandak [battalion] with a rapidly deployable, highly mobile armored capability that can quickly maneuver in an all-terrain environment, while concurrently providing the ANA with sufficient firepower to conduct a wide variety of operational missions over an extended range and distance,” said CPT Joseph Denning, in the Product Manager Armored Security Vehicle (PdM ASV) office, which is assigned to the Project Manager Joint Combat Support Systems (PM JCSS) in Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

    The MSFV uses a modified, updated version of a Textron Marine and Land Systems vehicle platform design that has more than four decades of proven performance. The modifications to the MSFV allow for additional protection while still using commercial-off-the-shelf parts.

    The MSFV family has three variants, each designed to meet a specific combat role and to meet and enhance the ANA’s QRF capability. The three variants include an Armored Personnel Carrier with Gunner’s Protective Kit, an Armored Personnel Carrier with Turret, and an Armored Ambulance.

    “MSFV is the definition of a rapid fielding initiative,” said COL William Boruff, PM JCSS. “We have gone from receiving a theater-defined requirement to awarding a contract and completing the Army acquisition process, resulting in delivery of the first low-rate initial production vehicles off the production line in just 14 months.”

    PdM ASV is working with NATO’s Combined Security Training Command – Afghanistan to provide a complete fielding, training, and long-term sustainment program to stand up seven newly organized ANA battalion-size units known as “Kandaks” by the end of 2013. 

    “This rapid fielding initiative will provide the ANA with a newly developed QRF capability that supports the U.S. strategic withdrawal by turning over the security of each Kandak’s operational area to a trained and equipped ANA unit,” Boruff said.

    • BILL GOOD is the Operations Officer for Product Manager Armored Security Vehicle. He holds an M.A. in public relations and organizational communication from Wayne State University.

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