Panel discusses support to Warfighter
Army Science Conference attendees listen to a panel of experts discussing technology support to the warfighter Nov. 29 in Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2010) -- The Army is seeking ways to use technology to better support the warfighter and this was the topic of a panel that took center stage during an afternoon session of the 27th Army Science Conference Nov. 29.

Panel members representing different facets of the Army discussed their observations regarding the implementation, effectiveness and needed improvements regarding science and technology designed to empower, unburden and protect the warfighter.

The panel was chaired by Col. John "Buck" Surdu, military deputy for the Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (ARDEC).

"All of the guys on the panel came with different perspectives and had interesting things to say pertaining to their areas of expertise," Surdu said. "I hope it impacts our ability to execute these wars as well as the next one."

Maj. Jeff Strauss, assistant product manager with PM Aerial Common Sensors, shared his observations while deployed as the operations officer for the Army Test and Evaluation Command, Foreign Operational Assessment Team Number 13.

"Many new systems are filling identified capability gaps and have solved or mitigated very complex challenges," Strauss said. "I think the (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicle) exemplifies this observation."

"Our second observation was that the acquisition community continues to refine and adapt systems to changing threats the Soldier needs," Strauss continued. "Another observation was that Soldiers and leaders often have very different views on system effectiveness.

"Our fourth observation was that Iraq and Afghanistan are very different," he said. "This was a pretty easy observation to make. However, what we found was that developers and materiel providers often used concepts of support and logistics that worked really well in Iraq but were not working so well in Afghanistan. "

Strauss concluded, "Our final observation, and one that I find most important for this body, is that in some cases, units are overwhelmed with new technologies and often lack sufficient manpower to fully leverage the system-works capabilities."

"There's a tremendous doctrine and force-design and equipping-program-policy infrastructure back here in the states," said Col. Michael Linick, chief for the Force Management and Integration Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff. "Feeding information in the call does not feed those processes. We need a better way to both collaborate with, and then to provide lessons learned, in near-real time back to the force-design world so that we can get the next unit right before it deploys, not after it deploys."

Linick also addressed the potential complications concerning adding new technology to existing equipment.

"If you're going to strap something on someone else's piece of equipment, make sure you understand every implication that your strap-on has on all of the other subsystems," Linick concluded.

Lt. Col. Keith Harvey, G3 Operations, RDEC, addressed some of the challenges faced in training commanders as they prepare to go into the field.

"With the increase in improvised explosive devices, we sustained the found and cleared," Harvey said. "So, that is a positive and a negative. We just sustained."

Harvey addressed the training challenges faced.

"How do we prepare the commander in identifying an (Improvised Explosive Device) player," he asked. "How does he identify that an IED network is moving into his village' How do we prepare the squad leaders and platoon leaders to go out and talk to the town people and help them better understand that there might be a bad actor here'"

Maj. Robert Carter, from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, discussed how medical input was a necessity for the survival of Soldiers and supporting the warfighter in combat.

"One of the things that was done very well was focusing in on trauma in both Iraq and Afghanistan," Carter said. "But one thing I think we lost sight of was the reality that a lot of what medics do in combat is provide primary care.

"One of the challenges and constraints on the medical community is providing medical support at the firebase level," Carter continued. "In some cases, we had reserve medics, who most likely did not have jobs as medics when they were not deployed, providing primary care to 150 Soldiers at a remote fire base."

Christopher Graham, PE, Task for Troy Scientific Advisor, was the final panelist and spoke about weapons technical intelligence and how it relates to members of the science and technology community, specifically regarding IEDs.

"People performing WTI need a reporting requirement from you folks [science and technology community]," Graham said. "If you are a direct-energy-system purveyor, you might want to know about power. If you are a science and technology detection company, you might want to know about radio frequency values used. These are the kinds of things that the science and technology community needs to feed back in order to adequately build systems that will defeat IEDs."

Monday's panel was the first of four topical panels expected to be conducted throughout the conference.

Page last updated Tue November 30th, 2010 at 00:00