By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public AffairsOctober 8, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 8, 2014) -- The U.S. and Thai militaries are building relationships through testing technologies that could be used during a natural disaster in Thailand.
Eleven U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy military and civilian personnel convened in Chao Samran, Thailand, Sept. 22-26, to evaluate equipment with the Royal Thai Army during Operation Crimson Viper 2014.
Maj. Scott Christensen, with the U.S. Army Reserve Sustainment Command, Detachment 8, said the exercise focused on training with commercial equipment that has been customized for military use.
"It was a great way to build goodwill between the Thais and ourselves. They were really enthusiastic about getting and testing technology that they could help their people with in the event of extreme circumstances," said Christensen, who is also an Army civilian computer scientist with Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The Reserve detachment augments active-duty officers and Army civilians who serve as full-time Field Assistance in Science and Technology, or FAST, advisors for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
Because Thailand is prone to typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes, the exercise objective was to deploy, set up and demonstrate equipment that would restore basic functions for Thai citizens.
The Americans and about 50 Royal Thai Army personnel worked together on tasks such as re-establishing communications and purifying water.
The Emergency Pop Up Phone and Power Network, known as ePOP, allows people to communicate when cell and Internet service is down during a major disaster or power outage. The devices can be set up to 100 meters apart, and an application can be downloaded to an iPhone or Android device to enable calls, text messaging and file transfers.
The group used the Smart-DART system to test for water pathogens, specifically E. coli. The device, which is about the size of a suitcase and is controlled by an Android tablet, allows for transmitting the results to a command and control center and to a laboratory for further analysis, if necessary. Their current water-testing system is larger, not tablet based and is not able to send results via the Internet.
"The Thais are eager to improve relations," Christensen said. "They could use these technologies for saving lives and distributing food and water. It was interesting to do this prototype testing and test the bounds of what the equipment was built for, to see if it can be used in a humanitarian assistance scenario."
The exercise in Thailand is part of RDECOM's role in the Army's growing emphasis in the Pacific region, and the detachment is focused on providing additional support to exercises in the region, Christensen said.
RDECOM houses a Forward Element Command in Japan and International Technology Centers in Singapore and Australia. RFEC-Pacific, along with the command's counterparts in South America and Europe, focus on science and technology search and initiating partnerships with foreign industry, military laboratories and academia.
Christensen told the RFEC-Pacific Commander Col. Ernest "Lee" Dunlap, who also participated in Crimson Viper, that the exercise was beneficial Reserve training.
"The experience will make me a better S&T (science and technology) adviser by seeing how the technology could be leveraged by a coalition partner and how that brings the two countries closer together," Christensen said. "Whether it's technology at the prototype stage or technology that is further along, these type of exercises help me as an officer to be able to do the FAST mission.
"It's great to be able to leverage science and technology as part of that relationship building between our two countries," he concluded.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.