By Robert JohnsonNovember 1, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- (Nov. 1, 2012) To paraphrase Robert Heinlein from his book, "Expanded Universe," the three-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, language and mathematics. Equipped with these three, you can learn anything you want to learn.
But, if you want to build or improve something for our combat forces, that same three-legged stool is held up by the military, academia and private sector businesses. With those three in place, development of new and innovative systems, programs and products becomes more feasible for nearly any project.
Recently, the Capabilities, Development and Integration Directorate hosted a Science, Technology and Requirements forum to bring individuals from the private sector, universities and the Army together to share ideas, emerging technologies and new or ongoing requirements.
"The overall goal of the forum was to allow the private sector to better understand the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence's need for technology in the near term, mid term and far term," said Walton Dickson, Mission Support Battle Lab chief.
"We (MSCoE) briefed overall concepts for (force) protection and contingency operating base requirements. The COBs are typically 1,000 personnel and below, and the focus was on areas of energy and power and water and waste," Dickson said.
As the need to expand the geographical footprint of the combat area increases and more Forward Operating Bases and Contingency Operating Bases are added to the battlefield, the logistical demand to support the remote locations with fresh water and electrical power becomes greater and greater, officials said.
With current technology, the logistical requirements can be somewhat reduced, but by raising the requirements with industry and academia; scientists and engineers can begin to find new technologies that will further reduce the logistical demands in the future.
"In some cases, it is a matter of a company saying 'hey, we've got a product that can fix that problem,' and we (the Army) may not have known the product even existed," said Dennis Hutchinson, CDID analyst. "And in other cases, we help establish the parameters by informing these groups of how we function, so that they can begin to develop research to address the issues or adapt current products to better meet our needs."
With force protection, one concept is to reduce the signature of the Soldier on the battlefield. This "signature" is the evidence of military operations and can be a physical presence, cyber operations or radio traffic. By denying the enemy the ability to "see" the Soldiers, it increases the security of the forces.
"Think of signature as smoke, but not in the physical sense. We want to use technology to obscure our forces on the battlefield -- hide them and our intentions from the enemy any way we can. That way might be enhanced camouflaged uniforms, light and noise reductions or increased secure networks and communication," Hutchinson said.
By bringing the three groups together, success stories and new innovations were shared during the two-day forum, Dickson said. Attendees were briefed by each of the three schools on Fort Leonard Wood and several corporations presented information on products developed that have a wide range of military applications.
"One of the eye-opening presentations was by a company from Rolla called Mo-Sci. They have developed products that can be used to save Soldier's lives in the medical area," Dickson said.
Mo-Sci created glass products for use in surgery that can repair cranial (skull) damage, according to their website.
In addition to exchanging ideas and requirements, the forum directed businesses and universities to the right procedures to solicit research funds from the Army, Hutchinson said.
A highlight of the second day's activities was a presentation by Dr. Stephen Lee, Army Research Laboratory chief scientist, who covered the some of the Army's applied research and current projects.
The conference was designed time-wise to allow for networking and sidebar conversations, Hutchinson said.
As for the success of the conference, many of the participants were pleased with the results.
"This is something we need to do on a regular basis," said Steve Tupper, University of Missouri liaison to Fort Leonard Wood. "It's great to see the Army pulling this together."