Soldier Center completes first baseline for groundbreaking MASTR-E human performance effort

By Jane Benson, DEVCOM Soldier Center Public AffairsMarch 24, 2021

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

NATICK, Mass. – The Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, Soldier Center completed the first baseline execution event for the MASTR-E program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in February.

Led by DEVCOM Soldier Center, the Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness, or MASTR-E, program is a large-scale effort that will measure, predict, and enhance close combat performance with predictive performance algorithms, sensors, data-driven decision aids, and targeted interventions to maximize Soldier performance. Among other outputs, MASTR-E will develop Soldier “fuel gauges” to represent aspects of their readiness and predicted close combat performance (Soldier status on the objective). DEVCOM Soldier Center is collaborating with numerous military, academic, and industry partners on the effort. The goal of the MASTR-E program is to characterize and predict Soldier cognitive and physical performance under operationally relevant conditions, ultimately increasing warfighter capability.

The Soldier Center’s Measurement and Prediction of Close Combat Task Performance Effort executed this first baseline event in collaboration with Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), and DEVCOM Data and Analysis Center (DAC).

Establishing an accurate baseline is a key initial step in scientific research because it involves the collection of data for use as a comparison or as a control. The baseline effort, which is co-led by the Soldier Center’s Dr. Grace Giles and Dr. Joseph Seay, works to predict combat power by measuring physical, health, cognitive, and social-emotional states and traits.

The Fort Campbell event was the first of what will be many MASTR-E baseline data collections.

“For each in-lab and field effort, under the Measuring and Predicting portion of the MASTR-E program, the Soldiers participating will be baselined for a series of cognitive, physical, socio-emotional, and health measures,” said Giles, who serves as work package lead for the Measurement and Prediction of Close Combat Task Performance effort for the MASTR-E Program.

This and future baselining events with other units will ultimately allow the researchers to reduce the number of necessary baseline predictors, making it easier, faster, and more feasible to collect the data.

“The baseline data collections will be used to refine the metric space to those that prove most reliable, valid, and feasible among Soldiers,” said Seay. “The resultant collection of standardized tests will represent a toolkit that provides accurate and consistent data. These data will be used – together with Soldier physical and cognitive measures of performance (i.e., shoot, move, communicate, sustain, navigate) across the MASTR-E efforts – to develop predictive models to better understand how Soldiers will perform in real-time and how they may perform in the future.”

This will allow leaders to make informed manning decisions, choosing the best people for a particular mission, based on true readiness in training and operations to increase the likelihood of mission success.

The DEVCOM Soldier Center’s Biomechanics and Engineering Team, Cognitive Science and Applications Team, Biological Sciences Team, and Applied Ergonomics Team are contributing subject matter expert input on measures and execution of the baseline with on-the-ground support from partners at ATC, NHRC, and DEVCOM DAC.

Jake Christopher, ATC, led the coordination of the data collection at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) that resulted in a successful first execution of the baseline measures. Currently, the second iteration of baseline data collection is taking place at Fort Carson, Colorado, with the 4th Infantry Division, and in May and June at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

The Measurement and Prediction of Close Combat Performance effort is developing a database to house all of the measures from the MASTR-E Program. The baseline data is the first going into this database that will facilitate the bigger picture machine learning/advanced analytics/algorithm development. With vast amounts of highly complex data collected from the baseline and other MASTR-E projects, machine learning is required to draw the correlations between Soldier traits and states and close combat outcomes.

"The MASTR-E program is expected to collect more than 20 Terabytes of data over its multi-year effort,” said Dr. Seth Elkin-Frankston of the DEVCOM Soldier Center. “To help manage this level of data, the MASTR-E team is developing a Soldier-centric, cloud-based human performance database to support agile data collection, organization, analytics, and standardization. The successful completion of this capability will enable an interoperable database that facilitates human performance research. The baseline effort will be the first work package to populate the database."

The effort’s ongoing work and recent baseline event will ultimately help advance the MASTR-E program by enabling Soldiers and leaders to monitor, predict and enhance their physical and cognitive performance, as well as their health and social-emotional traits. Overall, the Soldier-centered MASTR-E program will lead to a better understanding of Soldier performance as a key to mission success and will improve Soldier training, readiness and lethality.


The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers is also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.

DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.