I'm going to be at the AUSA Conference next week, attending Mon and hanging out in DC until Wed evening. Already scheduled a few meet-ups and looking forward to seeing others at the show and around town.
Entries in Army (5)
President Obama visited the Pentagon yesterday to announce the nation's new, leaner military strategy. The WP has a summary here, and the full Defense Strategic Guidance document can be downloaded here.
A very short summary:
Special Ops, drones, and cybersecurity. Out of Iraq, but not the Middle East. No more "prolonged" stability operations. Instead, “tailored capabilities appropriate for counter-terrorism and irregular warfare.” One war at a time. Expect veterans -- especially Soldiers and Marines -- to get shafted on pay & benefits.
Ouch. This report says:
"Every year since 1996, the Army has spent more than $1 billion annually on programs that were ultimately cancelled. Since 2004, including FCS, $3.3B to $3.8B, or 35% to 42%, per year of Army DT&E funding has been lost to cancelled programs. The Army cannot afford to continue losing funds in this manner."
PEO Soldier calls it the Power Dilemma. One of the critical technological challenges underpinning soldier modernization is the requirement for reliable, portable power systems to fuel all the high-tech electronic systems that land forces carry in combat. Some of the solutions currently being deployed and tested by the PM-Ground Soldier program include:
- 300 Watt Propane and Methanol Fuel Cells – provides power to the squad or platoon and can be carried in the Soldier’s rucksack
- XX55 Methanol Fuel Cells – provides power to the individual, team or squad and can be mounted and carried on the IOTV or in an assault pack
- Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System – solar energy power system that provides power to the individual or team and can be carried in the assault pack
- Soldier Power Manager with Solar Blanket – solar powered, energy harvesting power management and distribution system that can be carried in the assault pack
Good article here on the work done by the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier to support dismounted combat troops with enhanced systems. There certainly have been barriers to integrated soldier-focused R&D, as the article points out:
It may be surprising to some that we are still rushing new clothing and equipment to our troops some nine years after the conflict in Afghanistan began. One reason for this is that soldier clothing and equipment has rarely gotten the attention it required from the military in comparison to large, expensive weapons platforms. Another reason is that a different piece of clothing or equipment has been handled as a separate procurement item. Many are treated as commodities rather than as parts of a weapons system -- the soldier himself. Only recently has PEO Soldier initiated a program to treat the soldier as a system in which planning for all the clothing and equipment is cared for in a systematic fashion, at least in theory. A third reason is the lack of a line item in the base defense budget to support both R&D and procurement of soldier clothing and equipment.
Despite the above noted challenges, there have been dramatic improvements. I think PEO Soldier is one of the most dynamic acquisition organizations within DoD right now, having quickly adapted to the daunting combination of assymetrical warfare (on two fronts) and severe budget restraints to field improved soldier systems in a streamlined manner that delivers new technologies directly into the battlefield. PEO Soldier makes a priority to incorporate as much commercially available technology as possible to speed fielding and to reduce dramatically the reliance on the long, narrow, and costly acquisitions cycles of conventional approaches to weapons systems procurement.
Read more here about their Soldier Enhancement Program:
The mission of SEP is to identify and evaluate commercially available individual weapons, munitions, optics, combat clothing, individual equipment, water supply, shelters, communication and navigational aids which can be adopted and provided to Soldiers in three years or less.