• S&T Notebook: A Two-Year Tenure Winds Down

    Mike Cook of ATC discusses the Roadway Simulator with Dr. Fish. (Photo by Dana Fritts, Protocol Specialist, ATC)

    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.

    Steve Knott (left), Associate Director of Ground System Survivability at TARDEC, discusses recent advances with Dr. Fish. (Photo by Bruce J. Huffman, Public Affairs Officer, TARDEC)

    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.

     


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  • S&T Notebook: Robotics, Strategy, Small Units and More

    The Army Science Board conducted its Summer Study Meeting July 23-27 in Dedham, MA, after which the board formally out-briefed the findings of two current studies to Army leadership. (Photo by Randall Wingett, ASA(ALT) Graphics Design Specialist)

    Dr. Scott Fish

    This is a regular column by Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, on activities in the Army science and technology (S&T) community and their potential impact on Army acquisition programs.

    While this has been a busy summer with lots of activity pertaining to the future of Science and Technology (S&T) Management in the Army, the end of July and early August were packed full of reviews and actions.

    On July 25, I participated in the Congressional Robotics Caucus, co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Phil Gingrey (R-GA), M.D. The meeting covered a variety of subjects, but the focus was on driverless cars and supporting technologies. I described the unique requirements of such systems in the Army and the need to consider user trust when fielding unmanned systems with any degree of autonomy.

    Dr. Jim Overholt, our Robotics ST [Scientific Professional Corps expert] at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center, contributed much of the material and talking points for a possible success-oriented development path. (For more information on the ST Corps, see my article “Thought Leaders,” Army AL&T Magazine, July-Sept 2011, online at asc.army.mil.) Gingrey supported the advancement and application of this technology to save Soldiers’ lives and said that the research and development dollars spent by both industry and government were well worth the effort.

    The Army Science Board (ASB) conducted its Summer Study Meeting July 23-27 in Dedham, MA. After the ASB had completed panel reports and background writing, members voted to accept the findings and recommendations of the current studies. On July 27, the board formally presented the out-briefing of the study, “Strategic Direction for Army Science and Technology,” sponsored by the Secretary of the Army (SecArmy).

    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.

    The board also out-briefed the results of the study, “Small Unit Data to Decisions,” sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. This study focused on opportunities to exploit the proliferation of information sources to understand and shape the battlefield at small-unit levels.

    These studies will be briefed to the SecArmy in mid-September.

    On July 26, my Military Assistant, LTC Charles Emerson, addressed the National Research Council’s Committee on Capability Surprise on U.S. Naval Forces at the National Academies. While the council’s concern was on Naval affairs, capability surprise and ways to deal with it at strategic levels are concerns shared across the services. LTC Emerson articulated the Army’s background and experience in this area while detailing some of the ways we were addressing it in the acquisition community.

    That same week saw the completion of Israel’s Namer Infantry Combat Vehicle testing, in which my office has been involved over the past 14 months. The completion of the test objectives were the product of months of hard work and exemplary effort from the U.S. and Israeli teams. The results of this testing are valuable inputs into the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle program planning.

    The following week I attended the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials (EMRM) kickoff meeting. The EMRM builds upon ARL’s strong internal programs in multiscale materials research with the addition of two cooperative research agreements: Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments, awarded to a consortium led by the Johns Hopkins University; and Multiscale Multidisciplinary Modeling of Electronic Materials, awarded to an alliance led by the University of Utah. Over the past few years, theory, modeling, and experimental fabrication have advanced to a degree that promises exciting new advances in this field.

    I had the Integrated System Architecture (ISA) team outline and demonstrate their concepts to me recently. ISA is an effort under the Deployable Force Protection team headed by Dr. Niki Goerger in the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. The past decade of deployments has seen an explosion of sensor stovepipes as new technologies have rapidly augmented our forces, and I see this work as critical to guiding us to a performance-based architecture standard. The Army will overcome a huge hurdle when we sensor products are available in a common environment based on rules-based applications that can adapt over time to changing cyber threats and user needs.

    I accompanied Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (ASA(ALT)) for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA(ALT)) and Army Acquisition Executive, when she recently visited the U.S. Army Geospatial Center (AGC). Our purpose was to gain a better understanding of geospatial support and capabilities being provided to the warfighter and to the acquisition community in general.

    I very much enjoyed the interaction with the AGC professionals as they described and demonstrated the data and analysis tools developed to inform and enhance command and control, logistics, and intelligence systems being used and refined by the Army and DOD. They made a great impression on all who participated.

    Coming Up
    Later this month, I will accompany Ms. Shyu to Sandia National Laboratories. Following that, I will be participating in an Air Force Research Council session at the Air Force Research Laboratory and a variety of cyber-security reviews and development efforts.

     


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  • S&T Notebook: Strengthening Communication between S&T and Acquisition

    Anthony Franchino (right) at ARDEC demonstrates the Automated Direct/Indirect Mortar (ADIM) to Dr. Scott Fish (left), Army Chief Scientist. The ADIM is a magazine-fed, 81mm automated mortar that can be truck-mounted. (Photos by LTC Charles “Jack” Emerson, Military Assistant to the Army Chief Scientist)

    Dr. Scott Fish

    This is a regular column by Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, on activities in the Army science and technology (S&T) community and their potential impact on Army acquisition programs.

    On May 21, I gave the keynote address to the 18th Annual Automotive Research Center Conference, a cooperative effort hosted by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Increasingly, S&T development is done with cooperation with academia, government research centers, industry partnerships, and centers like these, showcasing the best of these efforts. I toured TARDEC’s recently updated facilities and participated in discussions on the current development and state of the art of ground vehicle engines and drive system controllers.

    The following day was the annual Army S&T Corps meeting. This prized group of eminent scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are our senior technical leaders, with responsibilities associated with identifying key research and development directions, mentoring our junior technical cadre, and pursuing their own groundbreaking work. They actively participate in external technical communities, are geographically disperse, and have extensive experience across a broad spectrum of Army-relevant technical areas. Their stature is equivalent to that of chaired professors at leading research universities and government Senior Executive Service civilians. This meeting included a collective discussion of current trends and methods of enhancing interaction with the laboratory leadership.

    The robotics development community continues to demonstrate new and innovative solutions to current Army problems with the use of a variety of intelligent robot behaviors. Based on the enthusiasm of both the government and attendees, the future Army will continue to see robotic innovations to augment its capabilities.

    A large part of my interest involves how S&T programs are transitioned out of their place of development (for example, government labs, industry research and development, and university research) and into programs of record. There are numerous paths, but the best transitions occur where there is a large degree of communication, trust, and planning between the developer and the program management office. Strengthening these links creates better outcomes for the warfighter.

    In this vein, I have conducted several site visits to our program executive offices (PEOs) and RDECs. In June, I visited both the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) and the U.S. Army Air and Missile Defense Research and Engineering Center. In conjunction with those visits, I also visited PEO Missiles and Space, PEO Soldier’s Project Manager Soldier Weapons, and PEO Ammunition. Several exciting developments are occurring in those areas, and some transition strategies are being examined in light of potential requirement changes reflecting the latest DoD strategic guidance.

    At ARDEC, an update on the nanotechnology center showed new achievements in the creation, production, and use of nanoparticles, while identifying new challenges to enhance product performance for the warfighter. The center is becoming a locus of industry and government nanotechnology research.

    Redstone Arsenal has several promising S&T developments in base protection that will prove essential to our future security. These are being incorporated into the major thrust areas of deployable force protection and the Force Protection Basing Technology Enabled Capability Demonstration.

    Lauren Armstrong and Deepak Kapoor at ARDEC's nanotechnology center talk with Fish about the novel properties of nano-materials. The center is leveraging the technology to develop materials that can be used for lightweight composites and explosive applications.

    Near the end of June, I attended the Robotics Rodeo, hosted by the Maneuver Battle Lab and the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA, and co-sponsored by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization and TARDEC. The robotics development community continues to demonstrate new and innovative solutions to current Army problems with the use of a variety of intelligent robot behaviors. Based on the enthusiasm of both the government and attendees, the future Army will continue to see robotic innovations to augment its capabilities.

    On July 23, I briefed the Defense Materials Manufacturing and Infrastructure Workshop on Materials and Manufacturing (part of the National Academies). The group is investigating the issue of counterfeit parts as an increasing concern to military and government procurement professionals dealing with a burgeoning obsolescence issue. The group discussed potential mitigation strategies and the need for more insight into this area.

    Coming Up
    Later this month, I will be attending the summer session of the Army Science Board (ASB), which will brief its study findings to Army leadership. The board has had two studies this year: “Strategic Direction for Army Science and Technology,” sponsored by the Secretary of the Army, and “Small Unit Data to Decisions,” sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

    We also plan on supporting the Board on Army Science and Technology (a standing committee chartered by the National Academies) by attending its upcoming meeting in September.
     


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