Chiarelli to scientists: Empower 'strategic corporal'
December 3, 2008
By Meg Williams
ORLANDO, Fla. (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2008) -- The Army's vice chief of staff warned researchers Dec. 2 not to let "institutional antibodies" quash ideas and innovations that have the potential to provide Soldiers advantage in the future.
Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli spoke to some of the Army's top scientists and engineers at the 26th Army Science Conference in Orlando, Fla., this week.
He told of two young majors who in 1920 borrowed one of the first tanks from the Fort Meade, Md., motor pool, tore it apart, put it back together, and later wrote articles advocating the Army's adoption of this new vehicle technology. One young officer was told his idea was not only wrong, but also dangerous, and if he continued in this vein, court martial was a possibility.
The two majors: George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower. The Army's adoption of the tank would languish for nearly a decade until Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chafee championed the new technology, predicting that mechanized armor would dominate warfare.
The United States can ill afford to let similar game-changing technologies linger in labs, Chiarelli said. He noted that while he served as commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, defense researchers provided two revolutionary -- and disruptive -- technologies: the Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR, and the FRAG Kit 5.
TIGR was just an idea in 2004 when enterprising Soldiers asked the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to take the Command Post of the Future software and build on it. TIGR is a virtual notebook with significant events, pictures, video and personal observations linked to maps. Data are connected and geospatial in nature and help Soldiers build context and awareness.
Fifteen Brigade Combat Teams are using TIGR in Iraq now and it is being fielded in Afghanistan.
"The 'strategic corporal' is a reality," Chiarelli promised. "We've moved beyond the mantra that every Soldier is a scout. Now every Soldier is an intelligence asset. What we do to empower that corporal will create more strategic advantage than anything I know."
When the M-1114 Fragment Kit 5s were put on Humvees, the improved doors and blast protection led to an immediate reduction in coalition casualties.
Chiarelli said the demands from the field are outstripping antiquated defense acquisition processes and he pledged to push for change and to do everything he can to protect research and development.
"Thank you for all you do for Soldiers serving in harm's way and for all you do for wounded warfighters," Chiarelli said. "As someone who spent two years in Iraq, I know you all make miracles happen. Your dedication to serve in a special way at a fraction of what your peers make in private labs I find simply inspiring."