By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, U.S. ArmySeptember 25, 2017
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- If a Soldier uses it to shoot, move, communicate, protect or provide intelligence, chances are, at some point that technology passed through the development, testing, evaluation and integration process at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
That extensive high-tech research, development and testing mission is what brought Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy to visit APG on Sept. 20.
McCarthy, sworn in as Under Secretary of the Army on Aug. 3 and who assumed duties as Acting Secretary the same day, said it is necessary for the Army to possess the capabilities to fight across multiple domains.
"We must look for rapid insertion of new technology in order to keep pace with both commercial trends and adversaries," McCarthy said. "You don't defend a country on a budget, you defend it on a strategy. The Army requires sufficient and predictable funding to sustain readiness for the current fight and to prepare our Army for the future fight."
McCarthy added that it was pertinent that the Army stay focused on readiness, while not taking away from ongoing modernization efforts. For APG, which provides life cycle management of the Army's communications, network, intelligence, cyber and electronics equipment, that message is particularly important.
"Team APG was extremely honored to host Acting Secretary McCarthy," said Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and senior mission commander for APG. "As the Army's premier center of science and technology, acquisition and test innovation, APG showcased how we provide the Defense Department with capabilities to solve some of the toughest issues in expeditionary mission command, cyber, satellite communications, software applications, and networking."
Taylor added that APG's unique location on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay provides the Army the terrain and environmental conditions it needs to test just about any technology that helps Soldiers shoot, move, or communicate.
While at APG, McCarthy met with leaders from organizations including the Research and Development Command, Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center and the Aberdeen Test Center, to discuss the unique coexistence of science and technology, research, development, acquisition, testing and sustainment at one location.
From secure wireless communications that reduce bulky and burdensome wires and cables, to radios that allow Soldiers to talk anywhere in the world, to seamless mission command technologies similar to apps on an iPhone, McCarthy took in the recent modernization efforts across the various portfolios, many of which center on modernizing the Army's tactical network.
In addition to the network and communications capabilities, prototypes such as the Ultra Light Command Post Node were on display. One of several expeditionary command post capabilities designed by CERDEC to explore minimalistic solutions for initial and early forcible entry operations, the effort includes a command post integrated onto a light vehicle. This enables communications and mission command as soon as Soldiers hit the ground.
McCarthy also visited APG's Army Test Center, which provides testing for Army vehicle platforms, weapons, munitions and Soldier protection equipment. Here he saw the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Army's newest light tactical vehicle that will replace a portion of the HMMWV fleet, and an upgunned Stryker that serves as a prototype to upgrade lethality.
The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Army's independent tester and evaluator, utilizes the Aberdeen Test Center to evaluate and integrate efforts across Army programs and the development community.
"Strong partnerships have been created between the test community and the acquisition corps to ensure compliance with the Army Chief of Staff's number one priority -- readiness," said Maj. Gen. John W. Charlton, commander of ATEC. "As one highly skilled team, we work together to provide the most effective, suitable and survivable equipment for today's and tomorrow's warfighters."
This collaboration at APG between program managers, the science and technology community, testers and integrators -- along with the ability to gain direct Soldier feedback -- is essential in building readiness and modernization across the Army.
"It was an honor to visit the APG workforce," McCarthy said. "It is clear that you keep the American Soldier front and center in everything you do, in every piece of equipment you field to our Army."