Army Evaluation Task Force key to FCS integration
October 7, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 7, 2008) - Soldiers are now testing Future Combat Systems equipment at Fort Bliss, Texas, and making recommendations for improvement, said a 1st Armored Division NCO Monday at the Association of the United States Army annual meeeting and exposition.
The Army Evaluation Task Force is testing and evaluating FCS Spin Out 1 systems and identifying the best way to use the equipment, explained Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Hardy.
Hardy, assigned with 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, began the Warrior's Corner presentation, "A Future Combat Systems Embedded Army," with a video of Soldiers in theater commenting on the use of FCS in day-to-day operations. Having FCS in the field would be like "having an extra man in your squad," the video proclaimed, giving Soldiers the confidence to go into unknown territory.
But without feedback and the evaluations from the AETF, those FCS technologies and would not be able to evolve and adapt to the current environment in theater, Hardy said.
Spin Out 1 systems include Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non-Line of Sight Cannon, Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles, and an Unmanned Air Vehicle currently being evaluated by the AETF.
The capabilities of these systems "will deliver enhanced situational awareness," Hardy said. The equipment, like the SUGV and UGS, makes it easier to clear an objective because a unit can focus on completing a mission instead of worrying about the Soldiers on rear-guard, he said.
"You don't have to leave a squad behind," Hardy said.
The AETF mission of testing and evaluation is vital in determining where Soldiers want to go with the FCS equipment, Hardy said. Soldiers, both in the field and in AETF, provide valuable feedback on how to improve and better use existing FCS equipment.
Hardy used the example of the SUGV. Soldiers recommended a camera be put in the body of the robot, in addition to in the head, so in the event the head was damaged, the robot could continue to operate.
Those recommendations were taken into consideration and the SUGV was soon updated with a camera in-body.
In addition to evaluation and testing, an assignment with the AETF gives Soldiers hands-on training. Soldiers with experience can go to the next unit, the next assignment, already knowing how to use the SUGV, Hardy said, and can teach their commanders how to use FCS equipment.
"These Soldiers will have less of a learning curve," Hardy said, and can immediately use FCS equipment.
The experience that non-commissioned officers gain at AETF allows them to see how the myriad of FCS systems are connected, and helps them to understand how everything will relate in the field, he said.
"ATEF helps these leaders understand what they are going to be facing," Hardy said,
"How to go through and find the information that's most important, and then get that information set up as quickly as possible."