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.
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.
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.
SGT Brendan Marrocco was the first service member during the Iraq War to survive a quadruple limb amputation, and now he’s the recipient of new arms, thanks to the first double-arm transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, which took place Dec. 18, 2012.
Marrocco was the beneficiary of research that’s been conducted since 2008 by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), which has been bringing together the world’s leading scientists and physicians from academia and industry to develop innovative medical solutions to fully restore Warriors with traumatic injuries. AFIRM is managed and funded through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which, along with the Department of Defense has provided and managed more than $6.5 million in hand transplant research—including sponsoring SGT Marrocco’s transplant.
“A team of physicians and nurses helped to restore the physical and psychological well-being of someone most deserving,” said Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, director of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and head of the team that performed the transplant. “Brendan Marrocco had lost both arms and both legs serving our country nearly four years ago.”
Marrocco, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, sustained his injuries in late October 2009 when an explosively formed penetrator entered his vehicle. With advances in protective equipment, battlefield evacuation and medical care, service members are surviving injuries that would previously have resulted in death, and they are learning how to live without one or more limbs. Recent advances in regenerative medicine provide hope to these service members who look toward a future where they may once again have arms and hands that they can use.
“[Marrocco’s] hope to lead a normal life has been boosted by the first double-arm transplant at Johns Hopkins,” said Lee.
The DOD invests in medical research and development efforts that have the most promising ability to benefit our troops injured in combat.
“Hand transplants, such as the bi-lateral procedure performed on Sgt. Marrocco, have the potential to restore not just function but also quality of life for our injured service members,” said Dr. Smita Bhonsale, deputy director for Science and Technology for the AFIRM.
“It’s such a big thing for my life and it is just fantastic,” said Marrocco at the Johns Hopkins Press Conference Jan. 29. “It has given me a lot of hope for the future.”
Marrocco, now 26 years old, continues to maintain a positive attitude and is looking forward to reaching for the goals he has set for himself and taking his ambitions as far as he can.
“One of my goals is to hand-cycle a marathon,” said Marrocco.
While the road to more functional use of his arms will be slow, Marrocco is confident that he will get there.
“The nerves regenerate at the maximum speed of one inch per month,” said Lee. “Considering where we did the transplant, and where the nerves are connected, there are many, many inches and indeed many, many months – a couple years for that matter – before function will return.”
Marrocco and Lee closed out the press conference with a message to fellow amputees to not give up hope. Advances in medicine are made every day.
The AFIRM continues to support advances in regenerative medicine, generating hope for injured service members.
Pfc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Unmanned aerial vehicles soared through the sky under the control of 16 “Raider” Brigade Soldiers during QR-11 Raven training on Fort Carson, Jan. 7-18.
During the two-week training certification course, Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in a variety of career fields, learned how to launch, maneuver and land the small, unmanned aircraft in a variety of situations, including aerial security during movement operations, terrain reconnaissance and target acquisition during night operations.
“The benefit of this training can’t be overstated,” said 2nd Lt. Theresa Ross, intelligence officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “The Raven is small, lightweight and portable. We use it for everything from site reconnaissance to target acquisition, so having several Soldiers trained and qualified to operate it is a huge combat multiplier.”
The hands-on approach to the training helped the Raiders get a feel for the tactical importance of the unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as a solid understanding of its capabilities and limitations, said Ross.
“Not a whole lot of intelligence officers get the chance to learn about this hardware first hand,” she said. “Because I have first-hand knowledge of the Raven, I will have reasonable expectations of what we can accomplish with it during a combat deployment.”
The Raven is designed for quick assembly and deployment at the lowest levels of the military structure. Weighing only four pounds and operated by remote control, the Raven can gather video or photographic intelligence or direct forces to a target using an infrared laser.
Having Soldiers from both combat arms and support career fields participating in the training ensures that no matter what the situation, U.S. forces can always get an “eye in the sky,” said Steve Rocovitch, small unmanned aerial system instructor, Rally Point Management.
“The Raven is a great asset to the military, but only if it is used properly,” Rocovitch said. “I have confidence that these Soldiers can take what we’ve practiced these past two weeks and implement them in a complex deployed environment.”
While one Soldier flew the Raven via remote control, others viewed the flight on a laptop, implemented flight patterns, and controlled its cameras and other tools.
“In addition to learning how to operate the Raven, I gained a better understanding of all the things going on in an operating environment,” said Pfc. Glen Default, infantryman, Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “When I fly, I have to be aware of everything going on in my airspace and know what is going on ground side to accomplish my mission. It’s a much bigger picture than I have been exposed to.”
The Raider Soldiers will continue to train in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of U.S. Army Central Command.
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — The largest solar power system in the U.S. Army is coming online at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and officials gathered Jan. 16, to mark the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Energy Savings Performance Contract, or ESPC, project, awarded and managed by the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, provides the sprawling desert base with a new 4.465 megawatt solar photovoltaic system, guarantees energy savings of 35,358M British thermal units per year, and reduces their energy consumption by 10 percent, said Wesley Malone, Huntsville Center project manager.
“To date this is the largest solar project in the Army,” said Michael Norton, Huntsville Center Energy Division chief. “Projects like this are important because the impact of rising energy prices on installations has resulted in an adverse increase of utility budgets spent on existing, often inefficient or outdated equipment.”
“ESPC projects provide energy efficient equipment resulting in a lower utility consumption,” Norton said. “Lower utility consumption reduces the DOD utility bills and assists in meeting federal mandates.”
ESPC brings in private party financing for energy conservation measures at Defense Department garrisons. An Energy Savings Contractor, ESCO, provides capital and expertise to make infrastructure improvements on government facilities to significantly reduce Army energy, in exchange for a portion of the generated savings. In the case of the White Sands solar power system, Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., of Arlington, Va. was selected as the ESCO.
Along with being the largest solar project, there’s another first in how the system at White Sands Missile Range was funded.
“We used an Energy Services Agreement for the photovoltaic equipment along with the ESPC concept which was a first for the Army,” said Will Irby, Huntsville Center ESPC Program Manager.
An ESA is an arrangement whereby a third party owns, operates and maintains the power generation system and provides electricity to the customer. This third-party ownership mechanism allowed for a significant tax grant from that reduced the project cost by $6.1M, Irby said.
Construction of the $16.5M system started in July and was completed in December.
Siemens was the solar system designer, integrator and is the operator. Their industry team included project construction by Texas Solar Power Company of Austin, Texas, with solar modules and tracking systems by Solaria Corporation of Fremont, Calif., and inverter manufacturer SatCon Technology Corporation of Boston. The project is owned, through the Energy Services Agreement, by Bostonia Group, also of Boston.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The world’s most advanced and lethal attack helicopter received a nickname by Team Apache at the annual government-industry Team Apache meeting at the Boeing facility in Arlington, Va., Jan. 8.
The Apache Project Office selected “Guardian” as the winning entry for the AH-64E Apache.
The “AH-6E Apache Guardian” will be a distinction from the AH-64D Apache Longbow that has been in service with the U.S. Army and with allied defense forces since the 1990s.
The winning nickname was submitted by Gina Gill, Logistics Management Specialist from the Aviation and Missile Command Logistics Center, who wrote the following justification:
“Although the Apache is known as the deadliest helicopter it is much more. The Apache functions as a safeguard for our Soldiers on the ground. It seeks and eliminates threats that would otherwise be undetectable and/or indestructible allowing our troops to complete their missions. The Apache is our Soldiers’ guardian in the sky.”
Gill was recognized by Team Apache at the meeting. The announcement, she said, came as a complete surprise. “Once Colonel (Jeffrey) Hager started reading the explanation, I immediately knew. It was a little overwhelming, and I’m very humbled.”
“First I started with what was different about this model, and it had to be one word,” Gill explained. “With all the technology upgrades that have been incorporated into the aircraft, one word did not seem to encapsulate the technological advances that the AH-64E brings to the battlefield.”
After much brainstorming on what the new aircraft means to the Soldiers that it protects, Gill decided that “Guardian” was the best fit.
“The Apache is not just deadly,” she said. “It brings fear to our enemies, and security to the Soldiers it protects. I work avionics and radar, and that helps with guarding and seeing where the threats are. That’s how I came up with Guardian.”
Several hundred entries were submitted into the contest and judging was difficult.
“Reflecting on this process, you sometimes don’t realize the amount of passion that people put into these names,” said Col. Jeffrey Hager, project manager for Apache Attack Helicopters. “For many, this is their livelihood, and you’ve just given them an opportunity to nickname the new Apache helicopter.”
Organizations that participated in the contest included Team Apache military organizations such as the Apache Project Office, the Aviation and Missile Command, and industry team members such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Leaders from each organization chose their top three to be judged by the Integrated Strategy Group comprised of leaders representing each organization.
There were many good names and many excellent justifications, said Hager. “Some were good, some were great, and some were simply outstanding.”
Army scientists, engineers, and program developers in a laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. are making substantial progress with efforts to build and integrate a sophisticated battlefield surveillance aircraft called the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS), service officials said.
“We want to build one bird with as many common capability packages on it as well as a full-motion video camera. We want it to be sensor agnostic.”
The initial task, now underway at Aberdeen’s Joint Test and Integration Facility (JTIF), is aimed at engineering and integrating an EMARSS fuselage with cameras, sensors, software, antennas, intelligence databases, and electronic equipment so the Army can deliver four Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) aircraft to Afghanistan as part of a forward assessment of the capabilities, said Raymond Santiago, deputy product manager, Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems.
“An EMARSS Forward Operational Assessment will place this system in the hands of our Soldiers, allowing them to inform an assessment as to whether the system meets the approved requirements. We will get to see the system being used to gather real-world data in a combat environment, with a high op-tempo. This will help us refine and establish the architecture for the platform,” an Army acquisition official explained.
The Army plans to complete the EMARSS EMD Phase with a minimum of four systems (aircraft). Overall, the EMD contract has options to procure two additional EMD systems and four to six Low Rate Initial Production systems.
Plans for the EMARSS aircraft include efforts to engineer a surveillance aircraft with a wide range of vital combat-relevant capabilities such as the ability to quickly gather, integrate and disseminate intelligence information of great value to warfighters in real time. It is being built to do this with an integrated suite of cameras, sensors, communications and signals intelligence-gathering technologies, and a data-link with ground-based intelligence databases allowing it to organize and communicate information of great relevance to a Commander’s Area of Responsibility, Santiago explained.
The work at the JTIF laboratory, involving a significant development and integration-related collaborative effort with Army and industry engineers, is aimed at reducing risk through rapid prototyping and software and sensor integration. The EMARSS fuselage in the laboratory is a built-to specification model of a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350.
“The laboratory gives us the flexibility to try things out with the fuselage. This helps us with how we configure the equipment,” Santiago added.
A key aim of the effort is to engineer and configure a modular aircraft designed with “open architecture” and a plug-and-play capability, allowing it to successfully integrate and function effectively with a variety of different sensor payloads, software packages and electronic equipment, he said.
“We want to build one bird with as many common capability packages on it as well as a full-motion video camera. We want it to be sensor agnostic,” Santiago said.
For example, the EMARSS aircraft is being configured to integrate a range of sensor packages such as Electro-Optical/Infrared cameras, MX-15 full-motion video cameras, and an imaging sensor known as the Wide Area Surveillance System, a technology able to identify and produce images spanning over a given area of terrain, explained Army acquisition officials.
“An EMARSS Forward Operational Assessment will place this system in the hands of our Soldiers, allowing them to inform an assessment as to whether the system meets the approved requirements.”
The EMARSS capability is unique in that it is engineered with a data-link connecting the aircraft to the Army’s ground-based intelligence database called Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). DCGS-A is a comprehensive integrated intelligence data repository that compiles, organizes, displays, and distributes information from more than 500 data sources. DCGS-A incorporates data from a wide array of sensors, including space-based sensors, geospatial information, and signal and human intelligence sources. A data-link with information from the ground-bases DCGS-A, will enable flight crews onboard EMARSS to use display screens and on-board electronics to receive and view intelligence information in real-time pertaining to their Area of Operations.
“As they are flying over an area, the EMARSS crew is able to immediately pick up the latest information from what other nearby intelligence assets are picking up. They can immediately get results from DCGS-A and see it on their display screens. Intelligence experts on the ground are doing analysis, and they can send relevant information back up to the aircraft,” Santiago explained.
Also, EMARSS’ plug-and-play, open architecture framework is being engineered so that the aircraft could potentially accommodate certain radar imaging technologies in the future, such as Ground Moving Target Indicator, a radar imaging technology able to detect moving vehicles and Synthetic Aperture Radar, a radar system able to paint an image or picture of the ground showing terrain, elevation, and nearby structures, Santiago said.
Given that all the sensors, antennas, cameras, and electronics are designed to operate within a common architecture, one possibility is to strategically disperse various sensor capabilities across a fleet of several EMARSS aircraft, thus maximizing the ability to gather and distribute relevant intelligence information, Santiago explained.
The Army Training and Doctrine Capability Manager for Intelligence Sensors is also working on the Capabilities Production Document which, according to plans, will eventually be submitted to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council before the EMARSS program can achieve a Milestone C production decision paving the way for limited rate initial production of the system in FY 13, Army acquisition officials explained.
- 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.
The Army employed a 4G cellular network this summer at its integrated capabilities testbed at Fort Dix, NJ to address integration with current network designs and to allow actionable intelligence for dismounted squads.
The U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command’s (RDECOM) Communications-Electronics RD&E center (CERDEC) enabled a mounted/hand-held computing environment that allowed for the dissemination of mission command data, imagery, streaming video,and voice between dismounted Soldiers and fixed command posts.
“We’ve had a long-standing collaboration with CERDEC PD C4ISR & Network Modernization; they handle the network pieces and infrastructure while our focus is developing the user interface to portray the information in the most optimal way for the dismounted Soldier.”
This was achieved by integrating a fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) network with a multi-tiered transport architecture that leveraged components of the Capability Set 13 design,including the Soldier Radio Waveform, the Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform, terrestrial communications, and WIN-T Increment 1 and Increment 2 satellite communications.
“Based on personal experiences or commercials they see, many people recognize that 4G networks introduce greater capacity, which allows you to push more data, larger images, video, etcetera,” said R.J. Regars, software development lead for CERDEC Product Director (PD) command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) & Network Modernization. “But it’s an isolated cloud, which doesn’t translate well to the tactical environment without significant investments in infrastructure to provide reach back from the tactical edge to a brigade or battalion. So you need to look at what can be integrated across the terrestrial communications network, where there’s less bandwidth.”
PD C4ISR & Network Modernization is a Reaserach and Development program within RDECOM CERDEC that focuses on the future network near-term and several years out, providing the Army with a relevant venue to assess next-generation technologies and to facilitate technology maturation.
Part of its mission is to provide technology and system maturity evaluation/assessment services to RDECOM centers, labs, and programs of record,” Regars explained. “As such, the exploration of 4G LTE cellular networks was conducted in support of the Soldier Domain initiatives of RDECOM’s Natick Soldier RD&E Center.”
“We’ve had a long-standing collaboration with CERDEC PD C4ISR & Network Modernization; they handle the network pieces and infrastructure while our focus is developing the user interface to portray the information in the most optimal way for the dismounted Soldier,” said David Darkow, Natick Soldier RD&E Center, or NSRDEC, lead for Soldier Systems integration and experimentation.
“The configuration and performance of the network will determine what we can push to the Soldier and what we can do in terms of information portrayal,” Darkow said. “We’ll adapt our work to fit the different network types so we can give the Soldier the maximum capability that will come with that network.”
“Based on personal experiences or commercials they see, many people recognize that 4G networks introduce greater capacity, which allows you to push more data, larger images, video, etcetera.”
The PD first explored the use of commercial cellular in 2010 as a proof of concept, combining 3G networks and handhelds with tactical communications systems to transmit biometrics and mission command data, share imagery, send alerts, call for fires, and to run Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Joint Capabilities Release functionality. Data was sent back and forth between dismounts and the tactical operations center.
In 2011, CERDEC demonstrated the Multi-Access Cellular Extension (MACE) foundational architecture to help pave the way for integrating commercial cellular technologies into current and future force networks, allowing use beyond a fixed infrastructure, such as WiFi access points or cellular base stations. Technologies under MACE seek to enable the secure use of smart devices and the ability to provide direct device-to-device Mobile Ad-Hoc Network-like features, enabling the Army to use multiple commercial wireless solutions, which could save the Army billions of dollars.
Science and technology efforts addressing the tactical aspects of employing commercial cellular, such as information assurance and policy-based security, will factor into shaping future PD C4ISR & Network Modernization events, said Jason Sypniewski, chief for PD C4ISR & Network Modernization’s Integrated Event Design and Analysis branch.
“This summer’s exploration of 4G LTE can be viewed as a data point to be correlated across a larger sample size of efforts looking at the tactical cellular arena,” Sypniewski said. “It’s just one example of how extending the development environment to the field can be applied toward building a body of evidence to accelerate informed decisions on the right capabilities and where they should be employed within the network.”
- Edric Thompson is a RDECOM CERDEC Public Affairs Specialist. He holds a B.A. in public relations and English and an M.A in English all from Western Kentucky University.
The Army explored whether real-time, electronic point-of-treatment care was possible or practical this summer at its integrated capabilities test bed at Fort Dix, NJ.
Key medical and technical personnel from the U.S. Army Medical Research & Materiel Command (MRMC) and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) combined prototype medical military software with commercial hand-held technologies and tactical 4G networks to send medical information from the point of injury on the battlefield back to the doctor for real-time communication and decision making.
“As decision makers look at network modernization, this is the type of information they will want in order to help them make informed decisions regarding telemedicine capabilities and the networks on which they’re going to ride. Our mission is to provide this.”
“It’s going to build confidence in the medic on the field that’s isolated with a severely wounded Soldier,” said Carl Manemeit, Physiological Monitoring project lead for the MRMC’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).
“If you’ve ever seen the movie, ‘Black Hawk Down,’ the medic is trying to treat the guy with the artery issue in his leg; the medic goes through all his resources, and once he exhausted all his knowledge, he was stuck,” Manemeit said. If he had been connected to the surgeons back at the treatment facility, they could have given him more guidance on how to save that Soldier’s life. By injecting this expertise, we might be able to do that one thing that could save some guy’s life; that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Medics used man-portable physiological monitoring devices with streaming video, voice, and photo capability, and sent electronic Tactical Casualty Care Cards (TC3) over a tactical network to the surgical facility so surgeons could see injuries and what treatment had been performed prior to the patient’s arrival.
“There’s an information gap that lies between the point of injury on the field and point of treatment back at a medical facility,” said Dr. Gary R. Gilbert, TATRC Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation program manager for Secure Telemedicine. “We need to do a better job of being able to record what the medic saw and did prior to the patient being evacuated to the treatment facility, and we want this record to be transmitted to the Soldier’s permanent health records.”
“Now when the patient goes to a combat support hospital, or gets back to Walter Reed for further care, the doctors can see what happened in the field; and five years from now when the patient goes into a VA [Veterans Affairs] hospital seeking treatment, the care providers can see everything that’s been done,” Gilbert said.
Currently, medics fill out a paper TC3 that’s attached to the injured Soldier before evacuation to the battalion aid station or the combat support hospital. In some cases, the TC3 never makes it back to the treatment facility, and the information never makes it to the patient records.
“One of the issues I had with the card is that it’s a piece of paper held on with a metal wire,” said SPC Daniel Vita, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD. “Pretty much, you would have attached it to the patient through his zipper or around his wrist, but you potentially had the problem of ripping the paper from the metal loop.”
Vita, who was a medic with the 130th Engineer Brigade Headquarters in Iraq, preferred using tape and a sharpie because “it stayed.”
“I like the idea of an electronic TC3 because it’s simpler,” Vita said. “It’s a lot easier for the information to get to where it needs to go and it makes it legible. When you filled out a TC3 card and put it on the patient, they didn’t know what was happening until that patient and card got to them. Now doing it electronically, you can send it ahead to the level two or three so they have an idea of what kinds of patients and casualties are coming in.”
The combination of secure tactical communications and knowledge management may also help brigade surgeons prioritize treatment and evacuation assets so the most critically injured can be treated first.
“The Army uses medevac, but the bad news is that it costs about $20,000 per patient flight,” said Dave Williams, Project Manager for Theater Tele-Health Initiatives, TATRC. “And if you have six assets and 12 patients, who should they get first? If we can determine which patients can be held and which can be treated and stabilized on site, it might be a less expensive way to save a patient’s life.”
The work was performed at the integrated capabilities test bed operated by Product Director (PD) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and Network Modernization, an R&D program within U.S. Army RDECOM’s communications-electronics RD&E center (CERDEC).
“We need to do a better job of being able to record what the medic saw and did prior to the patient being evacuated to the treatment facility, and we want this record to be transmitted to the Soldier’s permanent health records.”
“This is a forgiving environment because it’s designed for testing and solution proving,” Gilbert said. “If things don’t work, that’s OK; you find out what doesn’t work and you fix it here. There are a lot of technologies required to make this work, and we don’t have all of these. CERDEC is helping to fill in those gaps by providing a variety of radio capabilities that you wouldn’t get at a real brigade: SRW, Wideband Networking Waveform, Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform, deployable 4G, Airborne relay, connection to Army Warfighter Information Network-Tactical. They provide the infrastructure and we just bring the application.”
PD C4ISR & Network Modernization focuses on the future network, near-term, and several years out, providing the Army with a relevant venue to assess next-generation technologies and to facilitate technology maturation. The program is also a key component in CERDEC’s support of the agile acquisition process, using its field lab environment to perform risk mitigation and candidate assessment/selection for future Network Integration Rehearsal/Exercise events.
“These guys are not only preparing the current force to be successful, they’re closing the gaps for the future force with each iteration of these integrated capabilities events,” Williams said. “You don’t solve all the problems in one 12-month cycle. This venue is providing the medics an opportunity to get inside the Program Objective Memorandum cycle to come up with those solutions and iteratively solve them as technologies emerge and grow with us. This has been a complete team effort to develop a solution that did not exist six years ago.”
This is the third year that PD C4ISR & Network Modernization has examined network capabilities that could support the medic/first responder’s mission.
During 2011, PD C4ISR & Network Modernization combined fielded tactical radios such as the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System with the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) to see if it was possible and feasible to provide enhanced bandwidth and over-the-horizon communications for hand-held medical data. This year, a 4G cellular mesh network was implemented, using SRW to bridge back to the tactical network.
“We’re examining how best to combine the future and current so we can enable the medical community to perform their mission more efficiently,” said Jason Sypniewski, chief for PD C4ISR & Network Modernization’s Integrated Event Design & Analysis branch. “We’re looking at the Soldier Radio Waveform because it’s a self-healing waveform that allows non-line-of-sight communication; that’s the vision for where the Army wants to go. We’ve looked at EPLRS [Enhanced Position Location Reporting System] because it’s an existing asset on which the medical community could recapitalize.”
“Cellular technology could be the future of tele-health on the modern battlefield, but we need to know if it can be done, and if so, would it actually enhance the delivery of information?” Sypniewski said. “As decision makers look at network modernization, this is the type of information they will want in order to help them make informed decisions regarding telemedicine capabilities and the networks on which they’re going to ride. Our mission is to provide this.”
- Edric Thompson is a RDECOM CERDEC Public Affairs Specialist. He holds a B.A. in public relations and English and an M.A in English all from Western Kentucky University.
Dr. Scott Fish
This is the final 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.
As part of our efforts to expand the Army’s awareness of S&T Initiatives outside the Army, Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, and I visited Sandia National Laboratories on Aug. 23. We were met by Dr. Jeff Isaacson, Vice President for Defense Systems and Assessments, and Dr. Jerry L. McDowell, Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive Vice President for National Security Programs.
They provided an overview of Sandia’s current research and development (R&D) initiatives and transitioning technologies, while showing us some of their unique laboratories with projects of relevance to the Army mission. In return, we discussed ways to enhance the strategic relationship between Sandia and the Army. This was a very fruitful visit.
The following week, I traveled to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, to attend a meeting of the Air Force Research Council, a gathering of the Air Force’s Chief Scientists, at the invitation of the AFRL Chief Technologist, Dr. Jennifer Ricklin. We had an excellent discussion on sensors, munitions, materials and manufacturing, and information. I talked about the Army’s work in these areas and gave them an overview of our S&T portfolio.
We must continue to be diligent in this area, as budgets and trends in the complexity of our equipment continue to reduce our ability to verify everything by direct physical measurement.
I also met with Maj Gen William N. McCasland, the AFRL Commander, to discuss increased cross-service S&T collaboration. I was able to tour several AFRL labs and facilities, discussing their programs. I was particularly impressed with how the various Air Force directorates think through and articulate their efforts within the Air Force Strategic Plan. They were terrific hosts.
On Aug. 30, Air Force Chief Scientist Dr. Mark Maybury presented to Secretary Shyu, and a host of Army cyber-related organizations, work on an Air Force study he’s leading to provide a strategic focus in the cyberspace domain. Cyber Vision 2025 connects current National Strategy with future trends and challenges; it focuses on cyber as a domain, with air and space command and control functions within that cyber domain. The product clearly had parallel implications for the Army and engendered a lively discussion with the presentation participants.
The next week I accompanied Ms. Shyu on a long-planned visit to the U.S. Army Cyber Command and received an overview of Army efforts in the cyberspace domain. Cyberspace will continue to be of national, military, and economic concern with no shortage of future work in that area.
The week of Sept. 10 was a busy one. The Army Science Board briefed both the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, LTG Dennis L. Via, and Secretary of the Army John McHugh, on the results of the board’s latest study, “Strategic Direction for Army Science and Technology.” The study contains recommendations derived from looking at the current S&T environment and familiar trends, such as the growing global and industrial investment in technology. It also looks hard at how to enhance the transition of S&T while providing more focus for our S&T Enterprise.
I started the next week in Warren, MI, with a visit to the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), where Dr. Paul Rogers has just taken over as Director. I spent time with him and his leadership team getting an update on TARDEC’s work in protection, energy, and robotics. Dr. Rogers and I talked about how to enable his team to continue innovating and providing mechanisms for transitioning advancements to industry faster and more easily.
I also received an update on underbody blast simulation work, and we discussed what TARDEC and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory are learning with these tools, where experimental validation is strong, and where improvements are needed. It was time well spent.
I was particularly impressed with how the various Air Force directorates think through and articulate their efforts within the Air Force Strategic Plan.
At the end of the week, I accepted an invitation to tour the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, from the new ATC Commander, COL Gordon Graham. Though I have interacted with many individual ATC personnel and participated in several tests there, I was surprised by the breadth and depth of ATC’s work. The increased use of modeling and simulation to help guide test planning, and the focus on the most productive tests to perform, are encouraging.
We must continue to be diligent in this area, as budgets and trends in the complexity of our equipment continue to reduce our ability to verify everything by direct physical measurement.
I was also impressed with the attitude of the project managers, who are finding ways to streamline validation and verification processes earlier in the acquisition cycle and link up with testing being conducted at contractor sites to shrink overall program timelines and cost. This is not easy; it requires continued engagement and clever strategy to maximize opportunities for confident development and certification of equipment for our warfighters. ATC has a great team and is doing critical work for our Army.
This month ends my two-year tenure as the Army Chief Scientist. The experience has been great fun, and I’ve had the chance to shape some very interesting technical investigations across the realm of Army R&D. During this time, I’ve also had the chance to initiate activities both internal to the Army as well as external, and work through some of the typical growing pains of starting a new office in the Pentagon.
Stay tuned for the selection of my successor by Secretary Shyu, whom I wish the very best, and who I expect will be able to take the Army Chief Scientist Office to an even higher level of utility. I now look forward to returning to Austin and initiating new activity with the University of Texas.