Personnel at the Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Soldier Performance Dismounted Division, Dismounted Warrior Branch conduct research and analyses to optimize Soldier performance and Soldier-machine interaction to maximize battlefield effectiveness.

Samson Ortega, Jr. is a mechanical engineer/team leader of the Warrior Performance Team, Dismounted Warrior Branch at Aberdeen Proving Ground and is a former Soldier.

"I support research studies to quantify Soldier performance with small arms, antitank weapons, Soldier equipment, mobility, portability, durability, and human factors assessment of dismounted materiel," said Ortega. "I am the primary investigator in such research studies where I am responsible for designing the study, obtaining funds from the PMs or customers, managing the funds, planning logistical support, such as weapons, ammunition, ancillary equipment, coordinating HRED personnel, conducting the research, gathering the data, data reduction, data analyses, and final report writing."

Ortega said that the majority of the programs he has worked on have transitioned to materiel that have been type classified and consequently fielded for use by Soldiers in the field; some in Iraq and some in Afghanistan.

"Some of these programs that have transitioned to being type classified were the M68 Close Combat Optic sight for the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, the M240E6 Lightweight Machine Gun, which is now the M240L, the Javelin Antitank Weapon System, the 40 mm M320 Grenade Launcher Module, the XM2010 sniper rifle, which was being assessed by Soldiers in Afghanistan during my tenure there, and the XM25 25mm Individual Semi Automatic Airburst System also being assessed in Afghanistan and currently under evaluation by ATEC (Army Test and Evaluation Command)," said Ortega.

Soldiers have benefited from these programs by being provided materiel and equipment that has been designed and made with the Soldier in the loop to make them a more efficient combat force.

"Being a former Soldier allowed me to be in close work with dismounted Soldier equipment, which allowed me to keep up some of my Soldiering skills, such as shooting a weapon and maintaining military bearing," said Ortega.

Ortega said the ARL expertise is a value-added entity at APG since there are numerous personnel with expertise in dismounted Soldier equipment that can readily be called upon for subject matter expertise input.

"The program managers from Picatinny Arsenal have used ARL knowledge and expertise in having their materiel assessed for human factors issues, Soldier survivability, system safety, and other MANPRINT domains so that they may be type classified and eventually fielded for the Soldiers," said Ortega.

He indicated that one such example is the 40 mm M320 Grenade Launcher Module, which has replaced the aging M203 Grenade Launcher.

While in uniform, Ortega was a team leader of the Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory section while deployed in the Republic of South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. He was responsible for a team that conducted diagnostic checks, calibration, and repair of electronic equipment that was used in support of various other U.S. Army organizations stationed near the demilitarized zone. The electronic equipment was used in the support of other defense weapon systems and was also used in normal day-to-day diagnostics of other electronic equipment to ensure that all equipment was combat ready. He served a two-year tour at the PMEL section at APG and conducted similar duties as in the ROK.

When asked how his military experience helped him with his current position at ARL, Ortega said, "Being aware of military bearing, small arms weapon systems, and the way the military works in general, I can readily relate to Soldiers that we normally have as subjects for research since I was a Soldier once."