Evaluating Mobile Technology Before The Warfighter Carries It Onto Battlefield
Ray K. Ragan Mobile technology, or mobility as it is referred to by the military, is for the first time, taking a prominent role in defense. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Director, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, Jr. announced mobility would be one of his eight initial efforts for his agency, which has raised the next question – “how to test and evaluate these technologies before our Nation’s warfighters use them?” For the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), a U.S. defense organization charged by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to test, evaluate and certify technology and communications systems and products for joint use, this is a question that they must answer. Testing and evaluating mobility is especially challenging when compared with technology of the past. In the past, many of the devices used by the military were purpose-built, that is, engineers designed the technology for use by the military and adhering to strict requirements. Consequently, the device and its software did not change frequently; the tests on these products did not need to re-invent themselves constantly. DISA’s Strategic Plan describes how the agency will support its mobility initiatives as, “we will promote rapid delivery, scaling, and utilization of secure mobile capability leveraging commercial mobile technology to enable an agile deployment environment for new and innovative applications to support evolving warfighter requirements.” The plan’s ‘commercial mobile technology’, means devices like BlackBerrys, iPhones, the Android-based family and many others that will be used by the warfighter. With the rapid release cycle of new handsets and devices, there is no guarantee that a button will stay in the same place or the screen will be the same size from one generation to the next. Complicating matters further, software changes can change how devices behave. All these changes create many variables for engineers and testers at JITC as they test and evaluate mobility. “The mobility infrastructure involves many device types running a large number of applications on multiple operating systems connecting through WiFi and wireless carriers to mobile device managers, backend enterprise systems and mobile application storefronts,” explains JITC’s DISA Mobility Instrumentation Lead, John LeCompte. “Testing this continually evolving infrastructure is a complex resource intensive effort.” To meet this effort, LeCompte and his team turned to automated testing and like the commercial mobile devices they would be testing, the team looked at five commercial testing tools for mobile devices. Evaluating those tools on nine criteria, one tool emerged as the best fit for the testers’ needs that offered both, an integrated-development environment (IDE) and testing service package. The tool offers a cloud-based service that uses actual mobile devices, like iPads and Android-based phones. Devices can be connected to the cloud by two methods: hardware instrumented for the device or installing software agents. For hardware-instrumented devices, engineers have physically wired in connections to the video, buttons and other controls to allow the device to be remotely monitored and controlled from the cloud. Testers can interact with the devices through a web-based interface across a network as if they were holding the device in their hand. The second method of connecting a device is to install a software agent on a device that is tethered to the network. An agent is a special piece of software that usually runs in the background and performs some action. In this case, the agent relays input and output from the device back to a testing IDE, where JITC technicians monitor and write scripts that perform the tests. Central to automated testing is being able to script a test. Scripting is a simplified programming language that allows engineers to tell a computer how to conduct a test. Rather than having testers pick up a device and press the buttons, while recording the results, scripting can do this automatically. “This allows us to write the script once and test it against many devices,” said contract Senior System Engineer at JITC, Tuan Nguyen. The testers and engineers of JITC will need this tool, as well as others, as they meet the growing needs of information mobility on the battlefield. Not only do they have the challenge of meeting rapidly advancing technology with mobile devices, they must also address DOD-specific challenges such as security and information assurance. “The biggest test instrumentation concern at the moment will be how to rapidly conduct static and dynamic IA [information assurance] testing analysis on mobile applications. The recently released draft Mobile Applications Security Requirements Guide is being evaluated and tools are being researched to address this need. The solution will most likely be a combination of automated and manual testing,” said LeCompte. Ray K. Ragan is the JITC Public Affairs Officer.
The JMR Vision, From the Outside In
Kris Osborn The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing. The areas of science and technology (S&T) focus for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator program span a wide spectrum of emerging technologies, including composite materials, onboard electronics, and various rotor configurations designed to increase speed without compromising hovering ability, said Dave Weller, S&T Program Manager in Program Executive Office Aviation. One of several existing “compound helicopter” technologies under examination in the Phase 1 configuration and trades analysis is a coaxial rotor system, which places auxiliary propulsion technologies or “thrusting” devices at the back end of the aircraft to provide extra speed. Another example is a helicopter that uses two turbo-shaft engines and two small fixed-wings on each side of the aircraft, fitted with a pusher-propeller for extra propulsion. Also under examination is the potential use of tilt-rotor aircraft technology such as that currently used for the V-22 Osprey; with this design, the aircraft can reach high speeds in airplane mode and then maintain its ability to hover successfully in helicopter mode. “When you develop capabilities like these, however, you give up some hover ability. A main focus of the research is to look at ways of increasing speed without sacrificing the ability to hover,” Weller said. “Part of the science and technology program is to look at different configurations.” One possible solution is multi-speed transmission capability, a unique configuration designed to increase speed while avoiding the aerodynamic phenomenon of transonic shock, said Mac Dinning, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center Aviation Liaison to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. “All of the helicopters we develop now are built with a single-speed transmission. We are looking at how we can leverage technology and put in a multi-speed capability,” Dinning explained. In addition, the new Air Vehicle may contain composite materials and/or items now in development, said Ned Chase, Chief, Platform Technology Division, Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and S&T Lead for the JMR Technology Demonstrator Program. “We are exploring how to get the most efficiency out of the new structure that we can. One way to do that may be by using composite materials,” he said. Increasing Air Vehicle speed can shorten the response time for extended missions or lengthen combat radius, a critical necessity for saving lives in medical evacuations and getting supplies such as food, water, and ammunition to forward-positioned forces, Dinning said. “Current helicopter systems are designed to operate for approximately two hours without refueling. Typical cruise speeds of 140 knots limit the range that these aircraft can operate in. Short of off-loading payload (troops, weapons, cargo) to add extra fuel bladders, extended-range operations must rely on Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs), where fuel and armaments are prepositioned. The Army recognizes the need to reduce the manned footprint of these forward operation positions,” Dinning said. Nonlinear, asymmetric, or counterinsurgency-type environments such as in the current conflict in Afghanistan underscore the need to reduce the risks associated with having deployed units travel to potentially hostile prepositioned locations to set up FARPs, he added. Phase 2 of the JMR Technology Demonstrator effort will include an extensive Mission Systems and Aircraft Survivability Equipment S&T developmental effort, which will determine, in large part, what the inside of the new helicopter looks like. Like Phase 1, Phase 2 puts a heavy emphasis on affordability and encouraging innovation in a manner that also contains costs. Along these lines, the JMR is expected to use Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS), diagnostic sensor technologies attached to key aircraft components to catalog usage data and thus streamline repairs and replacements, substantially lower maintenance costs, and in some cases extend the service life of aircraft, Dinning said. “HUMS absolutely has the highest potential for reducing operational and maintenance cost of the aircraft. This provides an ability to build sensors onto maintenance-intensive components that we routinely inspect. We record the flight usage spectrum, and the sensors record the behavior of this component. “This information is then passed to a diagnostic software tool that diagnoses anomalies in that behavior and then sends the information to a prognostic tool, which determines when failure might occur. This combination of sensing, diagnostics, and prognostics allows us to move from our current scheduled maintenance to a condition-based maintenance approach. This allows us to replace stuff only as needed,” Dinning said. While this technology is used widely in the current fleet of Army aircraft, future applications of HUMS will look at innovative ways to embed diagnostic technologies onto the Air Vehicle itself, he said. NEXT: Next-Generationl Equipment Eyed for New Helicopter Previous stories on JMR: Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet (9 January 2012) Industry Teams at Work on JMR (10 January 2012) For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT. KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.
U.S. Army Contracting Command Launches Industry Executive Council
Senior U.S. Army Contracting Command (AAC) leaders and a group of industry representatives came together at ACC headquarters on Fort Belvoir, VA, Feb. 24 for the first meeting of the ACC Industry Executive Council. The council is a forum to exchange information, identify common issues, build partnerships, and develop solutions to advance ACC’s efforts to improve Army contracting. “We have been planning this for over a year and now it aligns very nicely with DOD’s recent Better Buying Power Initiatives,” said Jeff Parsons, ACC’s Executive Director. “We’re here to gain a common understanding of how we can work together to face future challenges, including anticipated cutbacks in the Army budget.” Dr. Ashton B. Carter, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD(AT&L)), announced the Better Buying Power Initiatives last November. They include targeting affordability and controlling cost growth, incentivizing productivity and innovation in industry, promoting real competition, improving tradecraft in the acquisition of services, and reducing non-productive processes and bureaucracy. In addition to these initiatives, the council discussed an Office of Management and Budget memorandum dated Feb. 2 titled “ ‘Myth-Busting’: Addressing Misconceptions to Improve Communication with Industry During the Acquisition Process,” which recommends that “each agency develop a high-level vendor communication plan.” The establishment of ACC’s Executive Industry Council is a step in that direction. The council is made up of senior contracting executives from ACC’s large business partners and the small business community. According to Christopher Evans, Deputy Associate Director, ACC Office of Small Business Program, “It’s imperative that small businesses have a voice, as well as a vote, when decisions are being made.” One initiative the council will explore at future meetings is the possibility for ACC contracting professionals to train with industry, which would expand their insights into industry’s business processes and further the government-industry relationship. The council decided to meet three times a year. The next meeting is planned for this summer. Watch the ACC website, www.acc.army.mil, and the command’s magazine, ACC Today, for updates on the council’s activities. Article courtesy of ACC Public Affairs
New DASA for Procurement Announced
The Hon. Heidi Shyu assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology announced on June 14, that Harry P. Hallock, executive director of the Army Contracting Command (AAC)-Warren, Mich., will be the next the next deputy assistant secretary of the Army (DASA) (procurement), effective July 15. “Mr. Harry Hallock has more than 20 years of acquisition, logistics and contracting experience, most of which has been in direct support of our war fighters. His leadership and contracting expertise will make him an invaluable asset to our team,” said Shyu. Hallock leaves his position as the executive director of the Army Contracting Command-Warren, Mich., after six years at the helm. “I am deeply honored to have been considered for this critical position in our Army. At the same time, it is with a heavy heart that I depart ACC-Warren and the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command,” said Hallock. “I’m very proud that Harry has been selected for this very important position,” said Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general. “Harry is an innovative leader who cares deeply about his people and has done much to advance the Army acquisition career field. As one of the founding leaders of ACC, he has helped shape and establish our command as the DOD’s preeminent provider of decisive edge contracting solutions and practices. Although I will miss Harry’s wise counsel and leadership, we look forward to working with him in his new position to provide America’s Army the tools it needs to fight and win.” Hallock began his career in Army contracting as a 22-year-old intern at the Detroit Arsenal and has been a Michigan resident for the past 33 years.
For Returning Soldiers, New Research Partnership Aims to Improve Health, Quality of Life
[author type="author"]Barb Ruppert[/author] [image align="right" caption="Through Operation Re-entry North Carolina, Dr. Carmen Russoniello of East Carolina University is working on developing a portable biofeedback training program that could prevent or reduce post-traumatic stress symptoms. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Carmen Russoniello.)" linkto="/web/wp-content/uploads/ORNC_Biofeedback.jpg" linktype="image"]“/web/wp-content/uploads/ORNC_Biofeedback.jpg” height=”167″width=”246″[/image] A public university in one of the most concentrated military corridors in the Nation has teamed up with DoD in a major initiative to address the post-deployment health concerns of service personnel, veterans, and their families. With the sheer number and diverse reintegration challenges of returning personnel—and the alarming increase in the suicide rate for combat veterans—DoD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are building and strengthening civilian partnerships to expand their capabilities to meet urgent and ongoing needs. Operation Re-entry North Carolina is a growing research and development partnership led by East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC. It was funded in September 2011 with $2.1 million for its first year through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (USAMRMC TATRC). Many ECU faculty members were already conducting military health research projects with nearby partners such as the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion and the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, NC; the Warrior Transition Unit and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, NC; and the Durham VA Medical Center and its rural outpatient network. But Dr. David Cistola, ECU Associate Dean for Research and Director of the new program, explained that Operation Re-entry North Carolina allows the university to collaborate more effectively with the military. “It creates synergy among projects,” he said. “We’re now coordinating several common elements, such as navigating the military’s regulatory process for research studies, so each project can achieve what it couldn’t separately.” The program was chosen for funding by TATRC after an extensive peer review process. TATRC has defined the gaps where research is needed and has worked with ECU to choose pilot projects that appear to hold the most promise for addressing these gaps. “We asked our researchers to align their strengths with the stated needs and apply to be part of the program. With this process, as well as TATRC’s help in connecting with the many agencies in the military health care system, we hope to move quickly to making a real difference for our service members,” Cistola said. Coordinated research areas focus on rehabilitation sciences, behavioral health, and telemedicine. Ten pilot projects were chosen for funding in this first year. Projects and their investigators include: “Efficacy of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Combined with Neurofeedback in Reducing Symptoms of PTSD”—Carmen Russoniello. “Essential Life Skills for Military Families—Single Service Member Version” —Elizabeth Carroll. “Sensory Reweighting in Trauma- or Blast-induced Dizziness”—Kristal Mills, Sherri Jones, Blaise Williams, and Leslie Allison. “Development of a Personal Telemedicine Device for Health Assessment and Improvement”—Carmen Russoniello. “Effective Use of Interactive Metronome with Marines Suffering from TBI”—Leonard Trujillo. “Identification of Blood microRNA Biosignature for TBI”—Baohong Zhang and Xiaoping Pan. “Integrated Care for Military Families”—Angela Lamson. “Virtual Reality-based Home Safety Inspection System”—Irene Hamrick, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Heal the Hearing: From Combat to Re-entry”—Jason Yao and Gregg Givens. “Re-entry with Recovery: Supporting Veteran Recovery from Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Mild TBI”—Paul Toriello. Some of the projects are farther along in development than others. If all goes well, Russoniello’s work on integrating biofeedback into a game that may help prevent symptoms of post-traumatic stress could be ready for field testing this year. Mills’ team is working on a rehabilitation strategy for trauma-induced dizziness based on recent ECU findings. [quote align="left"]“With this process, as well as TATRC’s help in connecting with the many agencies in the military health care system, we hope to move quickly to making a real difference for our service members.”[/quote] “One of the main symptoms of brain injury is dizziness and difficulty with balance, but it wasn’t clear exactly what mechanism was at play here,” said Cistola. “Our research with Marines from Camp Lejeune has shown that it’s not inner ear damage, as commonly thought, but a problem with how the brain integrates this sensory input. Now we can develop treatments based on this new understanding.” Another project closer to actual use is the work of Yao and Givens on an Internet-based portable audiometer that would allow for a full hearing evaluation of a service member in theater. Hearing loss is a common risk in the field; currently, a Soldier must be pulled from his or her unit and transported to Germany for assessment by an audiologist. With the new device, an audiologist anywhere in the world could conduct an evaluation via telemedicine. ECU holds the patent on the device, and the research team is working with TATRC to make it compatible with military requirements. “These pilot projects are high-risk, high-reward studies that could help speed exciting ideas to the next step and, ultimately, greatly improve the care of our warfighters,” said COL Karl Friedl, TATRC Director. Cistola noted that, as a public university, ECU has a mission to serve its region, which includes many veterans and active-duty military members. [image align="right" caption="Serving to heal ... Honored to serve the medical needs of our military through acquisition, logistics, and technology" linkto="/web//wp-content/uploads/mrmc-COMBO.jpg" linktype="image"]“/web/wp-content/uploads/mrmc-COMBO.jpg” height=”167″width=”246″[/image] “We must look to the future,” Cistola said. “For instance, we’re not satisfied with the kind of care we can currently offer someone with a blast-induced brain injury. Operation Re-entry North Carolina seeks to improve clinical and support capabilities. “We feel a solemn obligation to do all we can to mobilize our expertise and resources to help those who have put their lives on the line for our country. It’s embedded in our mission and embedded in our souls.” TATRC partners with other USAMRMC units to provide leadership in military-focused research efforts. For more information on TATRC’s research funding and collaborative opportunities, visit www.tatrc.org. For more information on Operation Re-entry North Carolina, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/ah/ornc. [list type="arrow"] BARB RUPPERT is 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. [/list]