A modern Army needs modern installations

By Dr. Jason R. Dorvee, U.S. ArmySeptember 27, 2018

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WASHINGTON -- How are Army installations preparing to enhance readiness in the 21st century? That's a question that Army experts, including the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment and the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Army for Installation Management, will present on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 10:05 a.m. Eastern time during the Association of the United States Army's annual conference. Here, Dr. Jason R. Dorvee, ERDC liaison officer to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, provides an overview of installation modernization in the context of the Army's wider modernization goals.


According to the National Defense Strategy of 2018, "the homeland is no longer a sanctuary." Within the modern warfare concept of combined operations across all domains provided by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Army installations are now part of the battlespace. This represents a very different role for Army installations -- one where the mission of the Army and the mission of installations as deployment platforms, combat training ranges, and family support systems is under threat from unseen adversaries. This is not a projection of what is facing the Army of the future -- this is the reality of the world facing the Army now.


Army installations must be thought of as power projection and power support platforms. Installations are the people, facilities, services, and operations supporting maintenance and logistics to assemble and deploy: Soldiers, tools, equipment, and munitions that enable an overmatch advantage. Installations secure all of these Army components and ensure forces are protected during stationing and movement.


In the connected world of the 21st century, information sharing has led to accelerated innovation and the creative use of technology. From the Army's perspective, this carries both risk and opportunity, forcing the Army to reconsider the roles and responsibilities of its installations. Installations of the future will need to take full advantage of artificial intelligence, automation, sensing, advanced materials, high-powered computing, and secure networks to drive the operation of cost-informed, durable platforms.

Connectivity and technology fuel the emergence of threats that have the potential to effectively disrupt operations and fix fighting forces before they are able to project power. Threats such as drones can be launched and controlled remotely as guided projectiles, while social media disruption can cause confusion and chaos leading to misdirection. Yet, despite threats in the modern information era, installations continue to operate with industrial era technology.


Army installations need to take a smart cities approach with an eye toward defense. By taking advantage of opportunities now, the Army is working to bring installations into the 21st century. Developing the foundation for rapid capability development will propel Army installations into the future.


Services and operations on installations will be automated. Sensors will gather data for deep analytics that will ultimately provide a better living experience for inhabitants. Instead of separate facilities serviced by a calendar schedule, buildings will be monitored, integrated and serviced predominantly when required. Energy will be redirected to shed peak load and take advantage of pricing options and automatically adjusted to meet the demand of the mission. Water and fuel will be carefully tracked and maintained to meet requirements.

Soldiers will be connected to installations through bio sensors which track physical fitness, caloric intake, and training accomplishments. Data analytics tied to facility services will provide customized readiness plans from the individual Soldier, to the unit, and to the total Army. With operations and threats that span all domains, cybersecurity will be the core element built into all of these technologies. Our installations will be secure enclaves with manned and unmanned guardians at the gate -- both physical and virtual -- a reflection of the new realities of this century.


Today, the Army is working with academia and private industry to design and explore technology pilots in building management, energy monitoring, autonomous vehicles, installation access, and the overall patterns of life. The outcome and utility of these pilots will be measured using an Army developed platform: Virtual Testbed for Installation Management Effectiveness, or VTIME.

VTIME will deliver a common operating picture for installation management, and will connect to similar operating platforms in areas such as maintenance, logistics, mobilization, force generation, health of the force, and threats. This information will inform readiness of the Army's infrastructure to the chief of staff, and give garrison commanders and other Army leaders the ability to analyze data and make decisions about weapons, maintenance, training, and Soldier fitness. To create these "installations of the future" it will take serious modernization, behavioral, and technological reform to become secure, prepared, and lethal for the 21st century.

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