S&T Notebook: Taking the Pulse

By Dr. Scott Fish

The DASA R&T kiosk in the ASAALT exhibit at the 2011 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition showcased programs and initiatives. (Photo by McArthur Newell, BRTRC/U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.)


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.

Time has really flown—it is hard to believe that we are at the beginning of November! It certainly has been a busy time for me and for many people in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT).

At the end of September, I supported Deputy ASA for Research and Technology (DASA R&T) Dr. Marilyn Freeman during the Army Science and Technology (S&T) Comprehensive Reviews, conducted by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Zachary Lemnios. It was a great opportunity to see our complete Army S&T portfolio over a few days and engage in discussions related to the key technology ideas involved and where the expertise resided. The seven S&T portfolio managers (representing Enduring Technologies, Basic Research, Air, Ground, C3, Soldier (Medical), and Soldier (Nonmedical)) did an outstanding job of pulling together and presenting the financial and schedule elements for their programs, which are being executed across our areas of laboratory enterprise and include critical external efforts conducted by industry and academia.

The breadth of technical work being done in support of today’s and tomorrow’s Soldiers was quite impressive. This review also brought some reflection on how we represent this work, and we all agreed that it was a very positive engagement. I’m very proud of the work done by the R&T Team and the portfolio managers. They clearly put in some long hours to prepare for this meeting.

I also attended the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Annual Symposium and Exhibition, which took place in Washington, DC, Oct. 10-12. My main goals for this convention were to meet with specific industry representatives for follow-on discussions from on-site visits earlier in the year, as well as to catch up with some government and industry people whom I only get to see at such a large, Army-focused event. However, I also took the opportunity to tour the convention floor and chat with many exhibitors whom I had not met, from both large and small businesses. I always find this convention useful for taking a pulse on organizations and getting a feel for what they think is important for their business area, and to discuss potential implications of products they are developing. Some particular areas that seemed to be mentioned often were related to the wide range of sensors and how to network them within a Common Operating Environment (COE) to gain increasing surety in the decision-making process.

I also saw multiple examples of smart munitions in ever-decreasing sizes that show promise for surgical response to threats of increased levels of discrimination, while decreasing collateral damage. As always, there were many organizations proposing new Soldier protection schemes for both mounted and dismounted operations, in response to the high priority we have on this work in the Army. It was clear from the magnitude of displays, product demonstrations, and engaging dialogue with AUSA exhibitors that our defense contractors are deservedly proud of their support and dedication to the Army.

Coming Up

The Army Science Board (ASB) is holding its kick-off meeting this month, welcoming new members and outlining plans for the upcoming studies. There will be follow-on ASB meetings in December and January. In FY12, the ASB is planning to conduct two studies: one related to “S&T Strategic Directions” and the other on “Data to Decisions” at the lower levels of the operational force structure.

I plan to work closely with the newly appointed ASB Chair, George T. Singley III, and the ASAALT ASB Office Director, Carolyn Nash, to ensure the successful execution and completion of these important studies. Our office supports the continuing work by the Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST), which will look at COE implementation at its next meeting in December. We are also monitoring good work being done by RAND Corp. and the BAST on making the Soldier and the small unit more decisive.

Previous S&T Notebook Articles: 

Exploring Partnerships with Israel (27 September 2011)

Army Chief Scientist to Make Regular Contributions to USAASC Publications (2 September 2011)

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