USA — Command Provides Valuable Technology to Warfighters

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2010 — An Army orga­ni­za­tion is trans­form­ing con­cep­tu­al sci­ence into valu­able capa­bil­i­ties for warfight­ers.
“The fact that we’re able to take tech­nol­o­gy… and rapid­ly spin those things out to sol­diers… You know, that’s real­ly a tes­ta­ment to the vision of the guys who start­ed these pro­grams 10 years ago,” Col. John “Buck” Sur­du, mil­i­tary deputy, U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand, com­mu­ni­ca­tions-elec­tron­ics cen­ter, said yes­ter­day dur­ing a “DoDLive” blog­gers round­table. The com­mand is based at Fort Mon­mouth, N.J., with facil­i­ties at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Belvoir, Va.

“What’s lim­it­ing our abil­i­ty to deliv­er more of those [tech­nolo­gies] to sol­diers is the pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ty of some of the ven­dors,” Sur­du said.

In 2009, he said, three com­mand-devel­oped tech­nolo­gies were com­mend­ed as some of that year’s “Army’s Great­est Inven­tions.” They includ­ed the Ruck­sack Enhanced Portable Pow­er Sys­tem, the Wolfhound Hand­held Threat Warn­ing Sys­tem, and the Counter Radio Con­trolled Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Elec­tron­ic War­fare Duke V3.

“The inter­est­ing thing about the Army’s Great­est Inven­tions Pro­gram is it’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for sol­diers — not the researchers who have a vest­ed inter­est in the devel­op­ment effort — to grade tech­nolo­gies that have been recent­ly deployed to the field,” Sur­du said. “Every year, 10 inven­tions or devel­op­ments are select­ed by sol­diers as being the top 10 for the year. At CERDEC… we were for­tu­nate enough this year to have three out of 10 select­ed, which is a pret­ty good per­cent­age.”

Sur­du explained the capa­bil­i­ties of each tech­nol­o­gy, and why the warfight­ers who used them felt it gave them an advan­tage on the bat­tle­field.

“Wolfhound allows us to… iden­ti­fy where the ene­my is, so that we can make deci­sions about how to respond, whether that’s to engage them with fire or fol­low them back to their lairs,” he said. Yet, Wolfhound’s great­est asset is its inte­gra­tion of com­mer­cial tech­nolo­gies to thwart impro­vised explo­sive devices.

The Duke V3 device, Sur­du said, has poten­tial­ly life-sav­ing capa­bil­i­ties as a threat deter­rent.

“It stops the abil­i­ty for the ene­my to set off radio-con­trolled IEDs with­in what’s called the CREW [Counter Radio-Con­trolled Elec­tron­ic War­fare] bub­ble — the area that’s being jammed by the CREW devices,” he said. “These are typ­i­cal­ly put in con­voys… In fact, many of our camps and FOBs are pro­tect­ed by jam­mers as well.”

Devel­op­ment of the REPPS, Sur­du said, began with a spe­cial­ized group with­in CERDEC that works on sup­ply­ing sol­diers’ elec­tric pow­er require­ments.

Cre­at­ing sys­tems that sup­ply increas­ing­ly effi­cient ener­gy assists U.S. troops in a big way, Sur­du said.

“If you’ve ever had to car­ry 120 pounds’-worth of equip­ment up a moun­tain,” he said, “you real­ize how, you know, car­ry­ing one-fourth the num­ber of bat­ter­ies is par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful.”

Uti­liz­ing flex­i­ble pho­to­volta­ic cells, Sur­du said, the sys­tem employs solar ener­gy to recharge bat­ter­ies used to pow­er every­thing from radios to unat­tend­ed sen­sor sys­tems, with the lat­ter help­ing increase sur­viv­abil­i­ty and base-camp defense.

Sur­du said he’d like to see more mod­u­lar­i­ty used in ground com­bat vehi­cle designs and oth­er sys­tems for the Army.

“We need to be design­ing ground com­bat vehicle[s] and oth­er sys­tems for the Army with mod­u­lar­i­ty in mind from the begin­ning… We design soft­ware that way — that’s why you get patch­es and oth­er things loaded into your sys­tem — we design soft­ware to be upgrad­able and updat­a­ble over time… But we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly design our big sys­tems of record with that expand­abil­i­ty in mind right from the begin­ning,” he point­ed out.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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