• Army wins top award for innovation

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers) (Photos by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller).

    By Claire Heininger

     

    ARLINGTON, Va. (April 30, 2013) — The U.S. Army has been named one of the world’s most innovative research organizations, after earning more than 300 patents for new technologies in a three-year period.

    The Army joins the ranks of private companies such as 3M, Apple, AT&T, Dow Chemical, DuPont and General Electric as one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators named by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. The U.S. Navy was also named, making the two service branches the first government agencies to make the list.

    “This recognition is shared with the members of our Army Science and Technology community who perform research relevant for the Army and our important mission, and provide the innovation that contributes to a strong national security posture,” said Heidi Shyu, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), who accepted the award on behalf of the service during a small ceremony at the Pentagon. “Nearly 12,000 scientists and engineers perform their work daily knowing that it will benefit our Soldiers by providing them with the best technology available to successfully accomplish their mission.”

    The award focused on all organizations having 100 or more “innovative” patents, defined as the first publication in a patent document of a new technology, from 2009-2011. Thomson Reuters then used its proprietary methodology to measure the organizations’ success on a variety of metrics, such as “influence” — how often their research was cited by other innovators in their subsequent inventions — and “success,” the conversion rate of patent applications to granted patents.

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Mr. Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); Mr. Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory; Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers); and Ms. Mary Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.

    The Army scored well in both of those categories, with more than 8,500 citations of its inventions published from 2007-2011, and 327 granted patents out of 436 published inventions from 2009-2011. The service also stood out for the broad range of subject matter covered in its inventions portfolio, ranging from training software that uses virtual robots to dispose of simulated explosives, to a folding shield that protects the operator of a tank weapon station, to a vaccine guarding against infection by the Ebola virus.

    “This illustrates how we attack many Army-unique problems, yet also contribute in wide-ranging areas,” said Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “Our portfolio was heavy in weapons, ammunition and blasting, but also pharmaceutical products, polymers and computing.”

    More than 900 individuals contributed to the Army’s patents, including personnel from RDECOM, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, as well as some of their partners from industry, government and academia. Three of those individuals, representing all the Army innovators, were honored at the award ceremony, including Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory, who was the top innovator with 11 patents; John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Bartley P. Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center, Corps of Engineers.

    The recognition by Thomson Reuters illustrates the depth, skill and dedication of the Army science and technology community and the impact of their efforts both within and beyond the military, leaders said.

    “Our people operate in the space between the state of the art and the art of the possible where innovation is paramount and focused on addressing needs unique to the Army,” Ormond said. “We also develop technologies that have a major impact once they leave the military world. It’s an incredible value for the taxpayer.”

    In a constrained budget environment, deliberate investment in science and technology is essential to drive continued innovation, Shyu said. The Army is developing a strategic plan that will protect and facilitate science and technology efforts that are essential to Army modernization, addressing the state of emerging and evolving threats; trends in commercial technology; current and emerging equipment requirements; and research in core priorities that address Army-unique challenges.

    While it is difficult to predict future technology developments, leaders expressed confidence in the Army workforce to continue accelerating innovation to give Soldiers the decisive edge.

    “Army Science and Technology cannot survive without innovative scientists and engineers,” said Mary J. Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “We are lucky to have an amazing group of scientists and engineers to invent, innovate, mature and demonstrate technology that provides increased capability to the Warfighter.”


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  • Army acquisition executive visits contracting students

    Hon. Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, speaks April 3 to students at the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, located on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Photo by Skip Vaughn

    By Skip Vaughn

     
    The Army acquisition executive looked out over the classroom of contracting student Soldiers and told them how valuable they are.

    “Thank you for what you guys do every single day,” Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said. “You guys are the future of our acquisition work force.”

    Shyu visited the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence on April 3 at its building on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The center is under the Acquisition Support Center, out of Fort Belvoir, Va.; and its classes fall under the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Va. The 47 students, most of whom are military, represent three classes which last from 3-4 weeks. The center has been located on the UAH campus since 2006 and in Madison Hall, 301 Sparkman Drive, since January 2011.

    Before addressing the students, Shyu met briefly with the staff and faculty. She called the three classes – including Project Management, Contracting Level-2 and Contract Pricing — very important. “What they’re learning is valuable, it’s incredibly marketable,” she said.

    She gave an overview of the international environment, her role as the Army acquisition executive and the need to take lessons learned from the last decade of war.

    The Army’s spending reflects the declining budget. In fiscal 2011, the Army did 470,000 contracting actions and obligated $124.3 billion. That declined in fiscal 2012 to 412,000 contracting actions and $107.5 billion obligated.

    Shyu pointed out that 64 percent of the Army’s contracting actions are competed. Last year 27.2 percent of contracts went to small businesses and “that’s huge,” she said.

    She told the students that contracting or acquisition isn’t a job they can do by themselves. It entails the requirements, the money and an acquisition plan. “It’s got to all come together,” Shyu said.

    She invited questions from the students; and the first dealt with the budget and sequestration. “We’re trying to make the smart decisions,” she said.

    Among the students was Staff Sgt. Trevor Dodge, 27, from Windsor, N.H. He is midway through the four-week Army Basic Contracting Course. At the end of April, he will be leaving Fort Hood, Texas, for Fort Belvoir, Va.

    “I thought it was great,” Dodge said of Shyu’s presentation. “She gives a view we don’t get very often. She hinted at things that are coming in the future so that kind of gives you a purpose in your job.”


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  • USAASC announces MOS 51C reclassification board results

    Tara Clements

     

    Fort Belvoir, Va. (March 18, 2013) – The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) convened a 51C Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) reclassification board, administered by the 51C Proponent Office, Feb. 26-27, 2013 at Fort Belvoir, Va.

    “This was a very competitive board and we received the largest number of applications than ever before,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Maneri, FA 51C Proponent Officer. “The selection rate was only 28 percent,” he said.

    Out of 182 candidates, 44 were selected for reclassification.

    The purpose of the board was to ensure the best qualified NCOs from across the Army were selected for reclassification into military occupational specialty (MOS) 51C, an Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Contracting NCO, which is part of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Workforce.

    “We have a great representation of different Army specialties among the selected candidates,” said Maneri. “Of the 44 selected, we have 28 military occupation specialties represented, with most coming from the Infantry,” he added.

    The primary mission for 51C NCOs is to deploy as contingency contracting officers and serve as members of the early entry module contingency contracting team. When not deployed, selected NCOs will serve as contingency contracting officers in support of a headquarters, principal assistant responsible for contracting, contracting support brigades, contingency contracting battalions, and/or installation contracting offices for training and mission support.

    The USAASC 51C Proponent Office would like to congratulate the following NCOs on their selection:

    Staff Sgt. Reginald D. Alexander Staff Sgt. Shantae R. Jenkins
    Sgt. Ambrosio C. Alvarez Sgt. Catherine-Tehila O. Johnson
    Staff Sgt. Jenny G. Alvarez Staff Sgt. Zandrea J. Landor
    Staff Sgt. Lee J. Andrews Staff Sgt. Adriane L. Lewis
    Staff Sgt. Alfredo Avila Sgt. Parquette J. Magee
    Staff Sgt. Brandon L. Barber Staff Sgt. Ashly N. Martin
    Sgt. Cedric R. Belmont Sgt. 1st Class Mary E. Matthews
    Sgt. James P. Bradshaw Staff Sgt. Enes Memic
    Sgt. Richard A. Burns Staff Sgt. Sabriya F. Mitchell
    Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Campos Sgt. 1st Class Tamisha B. Patterson
    Sgt. Jene A. Carter Staff Sgt. Darius T. Porter
    Staff Sgt. Jenny A. Cisneros Staff Sgt. Johnathan D. Robbins
    Sgt. Arthur J. Dominguez Sgt. Steven T. Schoening
    Sgt. Mark H. Fitzgerald Staff Sgt. Orlando R. Serna
    Sgt. Francis S. Frenette Staff Sgt. Scott J. Smith
    Staff Sgt. Matthew F. Girard Staff Sgt. Richard J. Thorpe
    Sgt. Kailey A. Good-Hallahan Staff Sgt. Nicholas S. Tollett
    Staff Sgt. Gregory M. Hamilton Sgt. Brandon K. Wilkinson
    Sgt. 1st Class Chan D. Has Staff Sgt. Brian P. Williams
    Sgt. 1st Class Megan A. Hobbs Sgt. Tornita Williams
    Staff Sgt. Destin S. Howell Sgt. Ashley R. Woods
    Staff Sgt. Young C. Jang Sgt. William J. Yongue

     
    For more information on MOS 51C, visit http://asc.army.mil.
     


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  • Humvee training sets support Army network fielding

    Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), train using Capability Set 13, or CS 13, at Fort Polk, La., March 2, 2013. The Soldiers are using a Humvee training set integrated with components of CS 13, mirroring the systems in the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, variants that the brigade combat team will fall in on when they arrive in Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit will be the first to use CS 13, an on-the-move communications network that stays connected over vast distances, providing information throughout the brigade down to the lowest echelons. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria)

    Claire Heininger, U.S. Army

     

    RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas — The Army is preparing to deploy the first Security Forces Advise and Assist Team to Afghanistan equipped with the latest suite of integrated network communications gear, but first the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), must train on the new equipment and learn how it will aid in the advise and assist mission.

    To get the brigade’s Soldiers quickly trained and ready for the deployment, the Army has integrated some of the network capability into a familiar vehicle platform.

    The Humvees rolling off the line here — more than 330 over the course of four months — are equipped with data radios, situational awareness software and other network systems that will be used by lower-tier echelons in the brigade. Two brigade combat teams, or BCTs, of the 10th Mountain Division are using the Humvee vehicles for their Mission Rehearsal Exercises and other stateside training before deploying to Afghanistan, where they will receive mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, All-Terrain Vehicles, M-ATVs, and MaxxPro vehicles with the same lower-tier network package for use in theater.

    “The Humvee training sets have the same systems and configurations that the units will see in theater, so it’s a good way to familiarize Soldiers with how to employ the network while taking advantage of the vehicles the Army has available in the U.S.,” said Maj. Rick Wilkins, the Army’s assistant product manager for light tactical vehicles, who is overseeing the production effort. Network components on the lower-tier MRAP vehicles will be integrated in theater, allowing for the units to ‘fall in’ on the equipment once they arrive later this year.

    The quick-reaction project to complete the Humvees reflects a strong partnership between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, known as ASA(ALT), and Army Materiel Command, or AMC, to leverage expertise across both communities and deliver a needed capability to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The training vehicles are one part of the service’s comprehensive effort to quickly field Capability Set 13, known as CS 13, to select BCTs, who will deploy to Afghanistan to support the drawdown of U.S. forces. CS 13 is the Army’s first integrated communications package that spans the entire BCT formation, connecting the static tactical operations center to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. The network will provide on-the-move voice and data communications over vast distances, which will be critical as U.S. troops work closely with the Afghan forces, take down fixed infrastructure and become increasingly mobile and dispersed in their operations.

    A technician at Red River Army Depot, Texas, works to install network equipment onto a Capability Set 13 training set Humvee. The integration work at Red River Army Depot to prepare the Humvees is a complex effort that the Army is executing for the first time. With a team of more than 25 skilled technicians, each day the line churns out an average of six vehicles. (Photo by Claire Heininger)

    The first recipients of the Humvees are the 4th and 3rd BCTs, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), who are now training with those vehicles as well as higher-echelon MRAPs integrated with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the mobile network backbone of the capability set, and the latest tactical data radios and Mission Command software. These M-ATV “Key leader” vehicles were first equipped with Underbody Improvement Kits, or UIKs, at the Fort Bliss, Texas, MRAP facility and subsequently shipped and integrated with the communications suite at Space and Naval Warfare, or SPAWAR, Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, S.C. When the brigades deploy, they will take the higher-tier MRAPs with them and augment them with the lower-tier vehicles they will receive in theater. Meanwhile the Army will then rotate the Humvees to the follow-on units receiving CS 13, who will also be provided their own set of key leader MRAP vehicles.

    “Rotating the networked Humvees among units allows the Army to cost-effectively train thousands of Soldiers on the capability set, and do it in a way that makes sense for the brigades’ training and deployment schedules,” said Col. Rob Carpenter, Army director of System of Systems Integration.

    Similar to the SPAWAR team’s work to network the MRAPs, the integration work at Red River Army Depot to prepare the Humvees is a complex effort that the Army is executing for the first time.

    The Humvees are integrated in multistep process. Seats and armor are stripped from each vehicle and brackets to hold the network capabilities are installed. Holes are drilled in the exterior to let air flow in and prevent overheating. Cables are measured, cut and connected. One of the more complex efforts involved switching out the Humvee alternator for a higher-output version, to help power the radios, antennas, switches, transceivers, computer screens and other network parts which are also precisely installed.

    With a team of more than 25 skilled technicians, each day the line churns out an average of six vehicles. The training sets come in three different configurations of varying complexity, depending on the user’s role in the BCT, said Robert Vallee, the depot’s supervisor for Humvee reset. The Army leveraged the Humvee original equipment manufacturer to come up with an integration design, which was then validated and turned over to RRAD for physical integration.

    “The timeline was very aggressive, and from a platform perspective it was a steep learning curve” to become familiar with and incorporate network equipment from several different sources, Wilkins said.

    But leveraging the experienced technicians at Red River, the operation overcame these challenges and is on track to finish production by the end of March, he said.

    “This was a great team effort across ASA(ALT), including Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, and Combat Support and Combat Service Support, AMC depots and our industry partners to design build and deliver a cost-effective training solution on a tight calendar schedule,” Carpenter said. “These training sets are an essential asset as we continue to execute the CS 13 fielding mission.”
     
     


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  • Detailed geospatial map data provides Soldiers greater technology, in less time

    Command Post of the Future (CPOF) is moving to the next generation of mission command with Command Post Web, a web version of CPOF that provides similar capabilities to users with access to the Army’s tactical network. (U.S. Army Photo)

    Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya reinforced the need for U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) to have at its fingertips the ability to draw upon the most up-to-date detailed maps and imagery of any given region at a moment’s notice.

    Project Manager Mission Command (PM MC) is helping to streamline the delivery of maps and imagery through the use of specialized geospatial products that work with the Army’s primary mission command information system, known as Command Post of the Future (CPOF).

    Although CPOF users have an initial set of digital maps at their disposal, there is usually not enough storage space to keep the latest and most detailed maps for every contingency across the globe. For combatant commands such as USARAF, which covers most of the African continent, sometimes the need arises where they must request customized map sets.

    Within days of the flare-up in Libya, PM MC coordinated the creation and installation of a specialized map set providing the most recent imagery and detailed maps of that area in support of USARAF.

    “When the incident happened we identified the need and got the maps out to them,” said Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, the Army’s product manager for Tactical Mission Command (PdM TMC), part of PM MC. “We recognize there’s use for both broad map coverage and detailed map imagery of specific areas of interest. When a new area of interest emerged in Libya, we were able to build a CPOF map set to cover it.”

    The maps sent were of several countries in northern Africa, including Libya, and offered sub-meter imagery that was orthorectified to allow for terrain displacement.

    “The maps are used on the Soldiers’ CPOF systems to plan, fight and coordinate the common operating picture,” said Matthew Tessier, map manager for PdM TMC and who developed the map sets in response to the flare up in Libya. “Without this technology and the accuracy of it, we could be putting our fighting forces in harm’s way. Getting them the most up-to-date maps for their mission was and is essential to saving lives.”

    To continue supplying detailed map data sets in shorter turnaround times, PM MC, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, is building an expanded map library. So when conflicts arise, like the recent situation at the Amenas gas plant in Algeria or the clash in Mali, USARAF has detailed imagery if needed.

    Tessier works closely with the Army’s Geospatial Center and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to gather map data, then using specialized software converts it for CPOF users.

    CPOF allows units to plot real-time operations like firefights on a three-dimensional map, and instantly see updates.

    A recent switch by PdM TMC from proprietary software to a commercial mapping capability for the CPOF system has allowed more options when it comes to the data resources used to pull together maps and imagery. For example, PdM TMC can now take an online, commercially available map of a building or site of interest, such as a university or office complex, and combine it with existing military map sets.

    “We switched over to commercial software that allows us to be more flexible with raw data,” said Tessier. “We can now gather different types of data available either through military channels or civilian, and have the flexibility to incorporate that onto our map sets.”

    PdM TMC is also working with Army terrain teams within USARAF to equip them with the same ability to build maps based upon their tactical needs, significantly shortening the amount of time needed to convert and ship the map sets.

    Leslie Call, a PM MC field service representative with USARAF, said the new technology allows the unit to load five times more data onto each hard drive and equips USARAF geospatial engineers with the ability to quickly convert additional imagery for CPOF as hotspots arise.

    “We are effectively cutting out the middle man and giving ownership of the maps where it belongs, with the unit,” said Call. “The unit can accomplish in hours what used to take a week.”

    As CPOF continues to evolve, it is embracing the next generation of mission command technology with Command Post Web, a web version of CPOF offering similar capability to users with access to the Army’s tactical network. This will also allow CPOF users to pull feeds from other map-based, mission command systems such as Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR), Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) and Joint Battle Command — Platform (JBC-P).

    “One of our goals is to have the best maps out there,” said Bentzel. “So in addition to deploying our own map servers we’re making it possible to access other map services like DCGS-A and TIGR. Every commander wants great maps because they help visualize the battlefield and make better decisions. The tools we’re building make great maps the norm, not the exception.”
     
     


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  • Army aviation advancing strategies for degraded visual environment

    (courtesy photo)

    Kris Osborn

     

    WASHINGTON – Army acquisition officials are pursuing an effort to identify solutions able to help aircraft crews navigate through a Degraded Visual Environment (DVE), a circumstance wherein weather, obscurants or obstacles thwart the ability of a crew to see properly or accurately know where they are in relation to surrounding terrain, service officials explained.

    Army officials view potential DVE solutions through what could be called a three-pronged approach; solutions include improving the existing flight controls systems and handling characteristics to assist the pilot in managing workload when vision or situational awareness is challenged or obscured, examinations of “queuing” technologies able to give pilots needed information to make decisions regarding the aircraft, and various sensors able to help aircraft crews see through obscurants.

    “One of the key efforts from Program Executive Office Aviation (PEO AVN) is to make sure we take a holistic approach within DOD, so that we fully understand all of the ongoing efforts that are contributors toward a DVE solution,” said Mike Herbst, Assistant PEO, Engineering and Technology,

    The Army’s strategy for approaching DVE emerged, in part, from the services participation in an Office of the Secretary of Defense-led Helicopter Survivability Task Force which launched a rotorcraft survivability study in 2009, Herbst explained.

    “One of the results of this effort,” Herbst added, “was that the individual services were asked to conduct their own studies to see where and how helicopter mishaps occurred.”

    “The Army brought Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) together and assembled a working group to dig into accident circumstances. Many turned out to be DVE-related, and this has helped shape the Army’s resolve in addressing this problem,” Herbst explained.

    “This working group included experts from the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence and the Army Combat Readiness Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., and the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., as well as program safety officers across the service,” Herbst said.

    Sensor Solutions
    “Various technological capabilities and “sensor” solutions are a critical component to the Army’s DVE strategy. The approach is to create a common set of technical standards so that different sensing solutions can more quickly and easily be integrated within a common architectural backbone,” said George O’Boyle, Aviation Network & Missions Planning DVE Project Lead, Aviation Systems Project Office.

    “With any type of future capability, we want to use commonality to leverage software solutions in a modular fashion,” said O’Boyle.

    In fact, the overall effort to build hardware and software to a specific set of common Internet Protocol (IP) standards is a large part of what Program Executive Office Aviation calls Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), explained Col. Anthony Potts, former Project Manager, Aviation Systems and current Director, Plans, Programs and Resources, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.

    According to Potts, the FACE effort involves a collaborative effort between government and industry to identify an established set of technical standards so that new software and hardware can seamlessly connect with existing systems on aviation platforms.

    The FACE effort has already resulted in substantial savings; it is a key portion of the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE) approach, a method of identifying and implementing a common set of IP standards as a way to better facilitate integration of emerging capabilities, quicken the developmental cycle and lower costs wherever possible, Potts stated.

    “The common set of standards for FACE has to do with the process by which software is built and documented. Previously we had to do a lot of code re-writing for every platform because each one had a different operating system,” Potts said.

    As a result, the Army’s DVE sensor plan is to establish a common software architecture that is “sensor agnostic,” meaning it will be engineered with a “plug-and-play” capability to accommodate a wide range of sensor applications. This plan will create an open architecture backbone able to keep pace with rapid technological change and quickly integrate new solutions as they emerge, Potts added.

    In response to an U.S. Central Command Operational Needs Statement issued in 2011, the Army is acquiring a limited number of sensors. These sensors are designed to help crews navigate through “brown-out” or DVE-type circumstances. The Helicopter Autonomous Landing System (HALS) sensors use 94 Gigahertz millimeter wave radar technology to provide helicopter crews with an ability to see through obscurants, O’Boyle explained.

    “The millimeter wave radar technology provides a known penetrating capability,” O’Boyle said.

    Over the longer term, however, HALS and other millimeter wave radar technologies will be evaluated by Army developers alongside a wide range of other sensing capabilities. Some of these capabilities may include Forward Looking Infrared technologies as well as Laser Detection and Ranging sensors which use applications to “paint” or provide a detailed picture of a given landing area.

    “Our concept is to move forward with a sensor integration program, depending upon resources and technology. The first phase of the DVE sensor program will be to study all these alternatives once a Materiel Development Decision is completed. We will then turn to the Project Manager to develop solutions. We’ve got technology in the pipeline to execute a program like this,” Herbst explained.

    Queuing
    Various “queuing” technologies can also help helicopter pilots by providing air crews with key navigational information designed to greatly assist efforts to address DVE conditions.

    “For instance, Program Manager Air Warrior, with Program Executive Office Soldier, is currently developing a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) technology able to provide air crews with a 3D symbology,” said O’Boyle and Herbst.

    “This symbology, which provides aircrews with information from inertial navigation and GPS sensors, is designed to assist pilots in flying the aircraft to the ground,” O’Boyle said.

    “This helmet mounted display is an upgrade to the current heads up display system. The current system is a single monochrome display fixed to the helmet, whereas the new one has a color display so the pilot will get a clearer picture and be able to see the symbology much better,” said Fred Reed, DVE SME from the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

    “Also, drawing from inertial navigation as well as information from a Digital Terrain Elevation Database which contains maps of most of the earth’s surface, pilots using this new helmet mounted display are able to see where they are in relation to the ground and surrounding terrain,” O’Boyle said.

    Overall, the Army’s approach to DVE is oriented toward leveraging the best available sensor technologies while simultaneously engineering a technical environment wherein next-generation capabilities can easily be integrated at lower costs. At the same time, the approach is multi-pronged, meaning it will emphasize sensor technology solutions alongside advanced flight controls, and key advances in “queuing” technologies.

    In total, this integrated approach is, quite naturally, aimed at increasing air-crew safety and survivability while also hoping to help provide them every conceivable tactical and operational advantage, service officials emphasized.
     
     


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  • PEO C3T majors use Lean Six Sigma training to take on thorny issues

    Creating standard operating procedures for deployment and leveraging the PEO C3T suspense tracking system helped provide an easier deployment process. Supervisory Human Resources Specialist (Military) Hector M. Torres (left) now has a mechanism to track when Soldiers complete forms during the deployment process. Maj. Michael J. Williams reviews the deployment process with Torres. (Photo by Meg Carpenter, PEO C3T)

    Meg Carpenter

     

    If necessity is the mother of invention, then aggravation is the father of process improvement.

    Undocumented methods for in-processing were so frustrating to Maj. Marty Jackson, he leveraged his Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training to find a solution. It took the former assistant product manager for Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) 15 days to set up his e-mail when he in-processed.

    Jackson, now the Executive Officer to the Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), refused to let his experience be the norm. He completed a Green Belt LSS project to increase in-processing efficiencies within Project Manager JBC-P.

    His LSS team made two recommendations. First, send new employees a welcome letter and any forms that can be completed prior to their start date and request that they take training that can be completed prior to arriving.
    The second recommendation was to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for new employees. This in-processing checklist applied to new military, civilian and support contractor employees for PM JBC-P. The checklist covers security, human resources and computer accounts.

    “We’re changing what we can change,” Jackson explained. “The Garrison’s Network Enterprise Center (NEC) still has its own process and timeline; however, we can get our new employees’ paperwork to the NEC sooner.”
    With the recommendations accepted and in-processing checklists in place, PM JBC-P will see $340,000 in net cost avoidance over six years.

    Cumbersome Process Revamped
    A time-consuming process prompted Maj. Charles F. Faison, product director for Tactical Ground Reporting, part of JBC-P, to complete a software distribution project. The problem was that JBC-P software needed to be sent to various vendors and customers. The tracking process was paper-based and averaged 51 days from start to finish.

    Faison’s team used LSS to analyze why it was taking so long.

    Maj. Charles F. Faison credits LSS training to teaching him to look deeper into challenges to find the root causes instead of going for a quick solution. Faison’s LSS team shortened a 51-day software distribution process to 3 days. (Photo by Meg Carpenter, PEO C3T)

    “The LSS training I received gave me an array of tools to streamline my software distribution process,” Faison said.
    LSS training advises team members not to focus on solutions too early during the LSS project. Fully analyzing a problem elicits better solutions.

    “My initial thoughts for a solution would not have gained as much efficiency as attacking the root causes of the problem,” Faison said. “It’s human nature to want to fix a problem right away. But you really have to analyze the causes.”

    Faison’s team created a process map of the software distribution process as it was, and then the team identified steps that had limited or no value. The team also found there was no database of information—the ‘database’ was a manila folder containing past requests from customers for software.

    “Keeping our customers serviced with new software upgrades by leafing through papers was highly inefficient,” Faison said.

    The team recommended creating a database and an automated process, both of which were adopted. Since then, delivery time has decreased from 51 days to three days. Because the process is more efficient, JBC-P did not need to hire an additional person to coordinate this process. An employee now does this as an additional duty. The cost avoidance is $11,000 per year for JBC-P.

    “This is not a high monetary metric,” Faison explained. “But we did not have to hire an additional person and the whole process is much smoother for everyone involved.”

    From Chaos to Order
    Confusion while trying to deploy prompted Maj. Michael J. Williams, assistant product manager for Product Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 1 (PdM WIN-T Inc 1), to undertake an LSS project to improve the deployment procedures for Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) military personnel.

    “When I deployed on temporary duty to Afghanistan in 2011 it was a chaotic process,” Williams said. “There was no definitive source from Aberdeen’s perspective nor visibility at the PEO level.”
    PEO C3T military personnel are expected to comply with APG policies. At the time Williams deployed, the PEO was at only a 75 percent compliance rate.

    Williams’ LSS team created SOPs for deployment by combining the Garrison’s policies and the PEO’s policies. One new procedure involves the Military Human Resources specialist tracking Soldiers in the PEO suspense tracking system as they complete the deployment process and sending in completed paperwork on behalf of Soldiers.

    “This SOP makes it easier for people to deploy and the suspense system provides visibility for people down range,” Williams said.

    Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) at PEO C3T
    PEO C3T’s CPI program’s mission is to improve the efficiency of operations by optimizing key processes and identifying and executing CPI projects, with the ultimate vision of driving value to the Soldier and the citizen. Program Executive Officer Maj. Gen. N. Lee S. Price requires all PEO C3T majors to undertake LSS training and complete their Green Belts and encourages all workforce members to undertake the training.

    “We always need to be finding efficiencies and quantifying them,” Price said. “It’s up to us to save taxpayers’ money by consolidating or stripping out unnecessary processes.”

    In FY12, the Army certified 22 Green Belts and four Black Belts at PEO C3T, including 13 majors and one captain. The PEO’s 26 gated projects and 10 non-gated projects resulted in $23.5 million in cost savings and $116 million in cost avoidance across FY12-18, surpassing the PEO’s goal of 2 percent of its total obligation authority, or $72.5 million.

    “We are raising the bar for FY13,” said Thom Hawkins, chief, Program Analysis Branch, and CPI program director for PEO C3T. “The PEO has set a goal of 3 percent of its total obligation authority, or $87.4 million. The PEO also plans to re-deploy its certified belts on PEO-level enterprise projects.”

    The FY13 LSS Training schedule is on AKO at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/doc/36722897. Contact your training coordinator or LSS deployment director to register for a course in the Army Training Requirements and Resources System.

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  • Mouth device in clinical trials as possible treatment for TBI

    The PoNS(tm) device is an electrode-covered appliance user's place on the tongue. The 20-30 minute stimulation therapy, called cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation, is accompanied with a custom set of physical, occupational, and cognitive exercises based on the patient's deficits. (Photo by Ellen Crown, USAMRMC Public Affairs)

    Ellen Crown

     

    The tongue is an amazing organ.

    Thousands of nerve fibers in it help us eat, drink and swallow. Without them, we would not taste. The tongue helps us speak. Quietly, its surface defends our bodies from germs.

    Yet for everything the tongue can do, perhaps one of its most exciting roles is to serve as a direct “gateway” to the brain through thousands of nerve endings.

    Now, researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation are leveraging the power of those tiny nerves. They are aiming to restore lost physical and mental function for service members and civilians who suffered traumatic brain injury or stroke, or who have Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.

    The treatment involves sending specially-patterned nerve impulses to a patient’s brain through an electrode-covered oral device called a PoNS™, a battery-operated appliance placed on the tongue. The 20-30 minute stimulation therapy, called cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation (CI NiNM) is accompanied with a custom set of physical, occupational, and cognitive exercises, based on the patient’s deficits. The idea is to improve the brain’s organizational ability and allow the patient to regain neural control.

    NeuroHabilitation Corporation is funding the commercial development of the device, and has more than just financial investments in PoNS. The company was created with support by Montel Williams, a celebrity and military veteran who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Williams was originally introduced to the research through an American Way magazine an attendant gave to him while he was on an American Airlines flight. The magazine included an article about work being done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shortly after reading the article, Williams joined a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Tactile Communication & Neurorehabilitation Lab, which is in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

    “The third day there I said we need this in the mouths of our Soldiers,” recalled Williams, who said he has always kept his ties with the military after serving in the Marine Corps and graduating from the Naval Academy.

    U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency commander (left) COL Alejandro Lopez-Duke, a subcommand of USAMRMC, signs a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) on Feb. 8 with the NeuroHabilitation Corporation, founded by celebrity Montel Williams and his colleagues, including the University of Wisconsin scientists. This agreement allows the Army to further evaluate the PoNS(tm) device and its potential application as a treatment therapy for traumatic brain injury. This is USAMMA's first CRADA. Phil Deschamps, CEO of NeuroHabilitation Corporation, is also pictured (right). (Photo by Ellen Crown, USAMRMC Public Affairs)

    The PoNS prototype and associated therapeutic use were developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists Yuri Danilov, Ph.D., Mitchell Tyler, M.S., P.E., and Kurt Kaczmarek, Ph.D. Their research is driven by the principle that brain function is not hardwired or fixed, but can be reorganized in response to new experiences, sensory input and functional demands. This area of research is called neuroplasticity and is a promising and rapidly growing area of brain research.

    Preliminary data from University of Wisconsin showed CN-NiNM to have great potential for a wide variety of neurological issues. Remarkably, the therapy doesn’t only slow functional loss, but also has the potential to restore lost function. That’s why researchers are saying that it “breaks the rules.”

    “When we talk about a brain changing itself, this is what we mean,” said Danilov.

    Because of its possible application for service members, especially those returning from combat with blast-related traumatic brain injuries, the USAMRMC signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with NeuroHabilitation Corporation (founded by Williams and his colleagues, including the University of Wisconsin scientists) on Feb. 8 that allows the Army to further evaluate the device.

    “This exciting agreement leverages a unique private-public partnership,” said Col. Dallas Hack, director of the USAMRMC Combat Casualty Care Research Program. “By collaborating with University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation, we maximize our resources to explore a potential real-world treatment for injured service members and civilians with a variety of health conditions.”

    Testing will include a collaborative study with researchers and clinicians at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Ky., slated to start this month as the result of a year-long coordination effort led by Capt. Ian Dews, deputy director of CCCRP. The hospital is home to the Warrior Resiliency and Recovery Center, which is dedicated to the treatment of Soldiers with physical and neuropsychological problems due to service-related trauma.

    Additional patient testing will be conducted at other Veteran facilities and civilian medical institutions. Concurrently, the USAMRMC, in collaboration with its subcommands, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, will conduct environmental testing, such as temperature and humidity limitations for the device, to better understand potential constraints. At the conclusion, the USAMRMC hopes to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for PoNS.
     
     


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  • Common Operating Environment assists Army modernization

    A Soldier with 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, demonstrates Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 and mission command on the move applications at the Network Integration Evaluation 12.1 in October 2011. The next two Network Integration Evaluations at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., will help validate Mission Command and Common Operating Environment software. (Photo by U.S. Army)

    Kris Osborn

     

    WASHINGTON – As the Army matures its Agile Process, steps are being taken to align systems engineering and integration in an effort to project and synchronize trends in technology and standards across Army programs now and in the future. An outcome of this alignment is that the system of systems engineering community is now shaping the Army’s network infrastructure to be more capable and efficient, enabling industry to build devices and applications to standards and align research and development with the Army’s acquisition roadmap.

    To support this effort, the Army acquisition community is implementing the Common Operating Environment (COE). The COE is an approved set of computing technologies and standards that enable secure and interoperable applications to be developed and executed rapidly across a variety of computing environments (CEs), Army officials explained.

    “COE is essential to standardizing the computing infrastructure fundamental to Army network modernization, as the current strategic modernization approach stretches across a 30-year time span with a focus on identifying and leveraging emerging Commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology,” said Terry Edwards, Director of the newly formed System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate.

    COE, which includes an effort to synchronize a number of computing environments, was established, in part, to support a 30-year strategic modernization approach outlined by the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, ASA (ALT), Heidi Shyu. The concept informing this effort hinges upon the need to integrate promising emerging technology into established programs of record. At the same time, a key portion of this effort relates to the importance of linking modernization efforts with the Army’s Science and Technology (S&T) community.

    “Bringing the 30-year plan and COE together, we are going to identify a roadmap for each of the portfolios so that we can tailor our approach to address specific capability gaps,” said Edwards.

    With the initial implementation plan unveiled in early 2012, the thrust of COE consists of a set of technical standards and computing technologies with specified layers designed to facilitate integration and interoperability among software applications and hardware , said Phil Minor, Chief, COE Division, ASA (ALT). “COE is aimed at selecting and integrating a set of standards and protocols in order to achieve an open architecture, where protocols are not proprietary to a specific vendor,” he added.

    Now underway, COE implementation is aligning Army programs into six Computing Environments (CE) based on mission and environment (size, weight, power, and bandwidth) limitations. Each CE will be baselined on a common foundation (hardware and software) to facilitate reuse of common components. Each CE will be designed to interoperate with the others, thus forming the COE. The interface between CEs will be enabled through the establishment of Control Points, i.e., tightly controlled technical specifications that act as the blueprint for how data will be exchanged between CEs. Implementation will be in a phased approach expected to be executed over the next several years. The idea is to stop developing systems within different stove-pipes or silos of capability, but rather to allow applications and emerging technologies to rest upon a common computing architecture or foundation, Edwards explained.

    The open architecture concept upon which COE is based is fundamental to the ongoing development of a number of significant Army modernization programs which are currently making substantial technical progress. A few of these are: Nett Warrior – a hand-held digital display device for dismounted units, Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) – a fixed-wing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft and Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A) – an integrated intelligence database, explained Edwards.

    COE is fundamental to the Capability Set management approach currently being pursued by the Army, a method of capability development designed to integrate promising emerging technology with effective existing systems. The technologies which comprise these Capability Sets are engineered with the System-of-Systems approach to integration and development, designed to lower costs and facilitate interoperability.

    Many of these COE standards are currently being identified, integrated and evaluated through the Army’s Network Integration Evaluations (NIE), a series of ongoing operational assessments of technologies and capabilities taking place in the realistic, combat-like environment of White Sands Missile Range, N.M. In fact, two upcoming NIEs will help validate Mission Command COE software.
     
     


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  • Award winning Army SES, international expert, moves to OSD

    Mr. Keith B. Webster, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation, center right, with Hon. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology as he transitions to a new role with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Looking on are LTG William Phillips, Principal Military Deputy, Director Acquisition Career Management, right, and Mr. Gabriel Camarillo, Principal Deputy.

    Kris Osborn

     

    WASHINGTON – Award-winning former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation, Mr. Keith B. Webster, will build upon his many successes as he transitions to a new role with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

    Webster, who now serves as Director, International Cooperation, OSD, is in charge of managing a host of key issues for Mr. Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Issues within his purview include international partnerships with key global allies, significant acquisition and technology-related matters affecting U.S. global military development and coordination with OSD policy personnel.

    “Inside Mr. Kendall’s portfolio of AT&L and inside the broader context of OSD, we will decide our priority activities and examine how we should be organized and engaged globally. Within AT&L, we are here to inform the requirements process with the J8 and ensure timely consideration of foreign technology opportunities and foreign product opportunities. We want to make sure that the JCIDS [Joint Capabilities Integration Development System] process is well-informed—to include international cooperation,” said Webster, while expressing enthusiasm for his new role.

    In particular, Webster’s role will call upon his considerable expertise in technology- and acquisition-specific international cooperation issues, Foreign Military Sales, Direct Commercial Sales and international policy issues, among other things.

    “I am chartered to advise him [Kendall] on all international matters and to be knowledgeable of global political military events–and to be in contact and in touch with those in OSD policy who have a pre-eminent role in international policy formulation here in the Pentagon,” Webster added.

    That means advising Kendall on the international aspects of key programs like the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) effort and the acquisition of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. In many instances such as these, Webster will examine the possibility of connecting with foreign research and development during the developmental process to further collaborate with allies and improve the development of next-generation capabilities.

    In fact, international developmental partnerships can be a key to sustaining production capacity for significant U.S. programs and technologies, Webster added. Along these lines, Webster’s duties will include research and academic pursuits aimed at examining industrial base issues in partnership with those in AT&L chartered with working industrial base matters.

    “FMS and Direct Commercial Sales programs are critical as they address potential gaps in production. How do we appropriately generate international interest in a product so that we don’t have a break in production? We will partner with our OSD policy colleagues to see where we can leverage engagement to help Mr. Kendall and help the industrial base,” Webster added.

    Webster’s expertise is informed by a distinguished career, spanning a range of high-profile, high-responsibility assignments. Most recently, he managed the Army’s Security Cooperation programs as the DASA (DE&C), the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology’s deputy for international acquisition. This involved policy generation and execution oversight of Army security assistance, direct commercial sales, and international armaments cooperation. In this role, Webster supervised more than $18 billion in annual sales, managed programs that involved more than 2000 Army civilian and military personnel, and worked to identify those critical capabilities which will need to be sustained into the future.

    In addition, Webster oversaw the development and maturation of significant large-scale U.S. Army Foreign Military Sales cases, many of which helped build partner capacity and solidify important relationships with important international coalition members—to include sales of CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Patriot missiles, Excalibur 155mm precision artillery shells and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, among others.

    These efforts were recognized by some of his foreign counterparts, and Webster was awarded the rank of Chevalier (Knight) in the French Order National du Merite. The ceremony took place June 8, 2012, and was officiated by the Ambassador of France to the United States, Francois Delattre.

    On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Director General Lena Erixon presented the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration’s Medal of Merit (Silver), specifically recognizing Webster’s efforts on behalf of Sweden in acquiring UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters through FMS, and for being instrumental in obtaining training seats for Swedish pilots and maintainers. The entire process from Sweden’s submission of a formal Letter of Requirement to initial operating capability was completed in record time, resulting in the helicopters being deployed to Afghanistan. His continued efforts to develop strong relationships and support the overall mission will continue to be remembered.

    Before joining ASA(ALT), Webster held several positions with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), including Principal Director for Business Operations and head of the agency’s Policy, Plans and Programs Directorate.

    Webster has an MA in International Relations from Catholic University, a BS in Business/Finance from Towson State University, is a Level 3 Certified Acquisition Professional and is a Fellow of the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
     
     


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