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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

NSRDEC, Now the CCDC Soldier Center, Has a New Name and a Bright Future

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

NATICK, Mass. — The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, located in Natick, Mass., became the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or CCDC Soldier Center, on February 3.

The CCDC Soldier Center is part of the Army Futures Command, or AFC. The Army Futures Command is part of the Army’s modernization effort and is committed to Soldier readiness.

AFC will work to get Soldiers what they need as quickly as possible. The command will focus on using the very best available expertise and on creating a climate that encourages and accelerates technology innovation and exploration.

As part of the Army Futures Command, the CCDC Soldier Center will continue to be the Soldier’s RDEC, ensuring dominance through superior scientific and engineering expertise and innovation. The center will continue to expand its commitment to its mission areas, including Soldier Performance Optimization, Soldier Protection and Survivability, Simulation and Training Technology, Expeditionary Maneuver Support, DOD Combat Feeding and Aerial Delivery.

The CCDC Soldier Center will build upon the extensive collaborations with industry and academia that it established as NSRDEC. The Soldier Center’s collaborators include Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Massachusetts — Lowell — to just name a few.

As the Soldier’s RDEC, the CCDC Soldier Center will build upon existing initiatives that underscore the center’s commitment to Soldier performance and lethality and will continue to rely on Soldier input to provide the modern warfighter with the very best that technology has to offer.

By Jane Benson, CCDC Soldier Center Public Affairs

RDECOM Transitions to Army Futures Command

Monday, February 4th, 2019

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army Materiel Command (AMC) and Army Futures Command (AFC) held a ceremony on January 31, transitioning the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) from AMC to AFC. The official date of the transfer is Feb. 3 during which RDECOM will be renamed Combat Capabilities Development Command.

“The United States Army has been focused on the near-term for the last 18 years, and rightfully so. But as we wind down and come out of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan the message is very, very clear, we need to re-focus on large-scale, ground combat and we need to re-focus on the future,” said Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general AFC.

(Left to right) Commanding General Army Materiel Command Gen. Gustave F. Perna, Commanding General Army Futures Command Gen. John M. Murray and Commanding General Combat Capabilities Development Command Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins during a Transition of Authority ceremony Jan. 31 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

As the Army’s newest command and the largest of AFC’s three major elements, the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) comprises eight major and three international centers and laboratories including: Data & Analysis Center; Armaments Center; Army Research Laboratory; Aviation and Missile Center; Chemical Biological Center; Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center; Ground Vehicle Systems Center; and Soldier Center. The international elements are the regionally aligned Americas, Atlantic and Pacific Centers.

Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity officially became part of AFC during the ceremony and was renamed Data & Analysis Center. It was realigned with existing CCDC analysis organizations to create an integrated analysis center.

At a Transition of Authority ceremony Jan. 31, Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general Army Futures Command, addresses the Army’s effort to focus on technologies to support Multi-Domain Operations. The ceremony, held at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. signified the transfer of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command from Army Materiel Command to AFC. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

The three major elements of the AFC include: Futures and Concepts, Combat Development and Combat Systems.

As part of the Combat Development element, CCDC will focus on fundamental scientific research, technology development, engineering and analysis to support the Army’s six modernization priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the Network, Air & Missile Defense and Soldier Lethality. Key tenants of the CCDC’s mission are speed of delivery and integrating technology into existing weapon systems.

CCDC joining AFC is the next step in the Army’s effort to transform its approach to modernize critical core capabilities that will give Soldiers and allies a decisive edge in battle. As the modernization strategy focuses on delivering capabilities to support Multi-Domain Operations by 2028, CCDC will maintain a balance between scientific research to support MDO and technology that may not be developed until 2050 or beyond.

Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general Army Futures Command, and Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commanding general Combat Capabilities Development Command, uncase the official flag, signifying the transition of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command from Army Materiel Command to AFC. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

“As the last commander of RDECOM and the first commander of CCDC — as a Soldier of more than 30 years — I see no bitterness in what we do here today. I see a new challenge and more reason to hope as we become part of a bigger team taking bolder action to forge the future,” said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commanding general CCDC.

To prepare for the move to AFC, CCDC S&T advisors engaged with the Modernization Task Force, which became the AFC Headquarters, and the Cross Functional Teams to help drive the modernization process. The CFTs are composed of subject matter experts from the requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test and evaluation, resourcing, contracting, cost and sustainment communities.

The command also launched an across-the-board campaign plan to gain greater visibility of operations and become more effective and efficient. The campaign plan included reorganizing the command’s portfolio and management structures to mirror the Army’s modernization priorities and naming a lead center for each modernization priority.

CCDC collaborates with hundreds of international and domestic academic and industry partners to maintain a steady stream of world-class technology. Becoming part of AFC will enable CCDC to partner in new ways and provide greater clarity and focus for all of the Army’s major commands.

“The world-class scientists and engineers, technicians and support staff of this organization are some of the most talented and respected professionals in their fields. So on behalf of the countless Soldiers you have supported while you’ve been a member of the AMC family for the last 4,450 days, I personally say ‘thank you’,” said Gen. Gustave F. Perna, commanding general AMC.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, CCDC HQ Public Affairs

Meet JOE

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Yesterday, I found out why the Parachute Regiment refers to its troops as “Joe.”

Meet JOE.

In 1942 the PARAs were formed from soldiers already in the Army. The volunteers on transfer had their documents stamped with the letters J.O.E, standing for ‘joined on enlistment’. New members of the Regiment today are still refered to in this way.

It helps to place everyone on the same footing, building a cohesive team and family. Joe is genderless, doesn’t have a sexuality, finacial history, race, religion or come from a certain background. Joe is equal.

Sky Soldier Leaders Conduct Joint Mountain Training

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

PASSO DEL TONALE, Italy — Leaders from across the 173rd Airborne Brigade assembled here from Dec. 10-12 to experience rigorous professional development and build interoperability with Italian allies while summiting the 2,700 meters of snow covered Monte Tonale.

For exercise “Alpini Climb,” the brigade’s company commanders and first sergeants, as well as the battalion commanders and sergeants major teamed with Italy’s mountain warfare experts, the Alpini, for instruction in cold weather operations and field craft. The instruction was put to the test with a platoon sized patrol up to summit the mountain.

“It was an opportunity to bring the entire team of leaders together. We got to experience shared hardships with our Italian Allies and learn about how to live and operate in the cold which is all part of combat readiness,” said Col. Jay Bartholomees, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. “It was a great opportunity to practice our craft and use our equipment in the elements.”

The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces to the United States, Europe, Africa, and Central Command’s areas of responsibilities. Forward deployed across Italy and Germany, the brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build partnerships and strengthen the alliance.

As part of the training, the participants surrendered their ranks along with their mobile phones and became members of a temporary platoon. The process allowed these dedicated leaders of the companies of the brigade to focus, however briefly, on the tasks ahead of them which would be rigorous.

“I found myself as a squad leader of 7th squad,” said Cpt. Jesse Carter, Commander of Bastion Co., 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “It gives me a whole new respect of the requirements of a squad leader and how to disseminate information in a challenging environment. I’ve learned a ton.”

At the Alpini base camp, the Paratroopers received instruction on proper use of their arctic equipment, and techniques for trekking up the mountain. Additionally, they received instruction on how to build the “trunne,” Italian for a fox-hole in the snow, and what these intrepid Paratroopers would sleep in the following night.

After departing the base camp on Tuesday, the Paratroopers marched up the snow covered mountain, with guides from the Alpini Julia Brigade, a ruck on their back, and snow shoes on their feet.

“We all feel ourselves to be very physically fit, but traversing this mountain was a smoker,” said Cpt. Andrew Williams, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “Along the way we’ve had invaluable training opportunities in survival, how to sleep in the snow, things like layering of clothing and the critical value of not sweating,” continued Williams.

After reaching the stopping point for the first night, the Paratroopers dug their buddy-team trunna and got a few hours of much needed rest to prepare for their final climb of the mountain on Wednesday morning.

At the summit, the platoon was able to witness first-hand the view that their Italian and Austrian predecessors saw over a century ago when those two Armies met in these mountains as each nation vied for the dominance of northern Italy during World War I.

“Our fighting forefathers did this same event but with much older equipment and in far harsher conditions than we did,” said Williams. “It really brings a lot of perspective while we’re up here.”

In all, the exercise was a valuable experience for the participants. These paratroopers were challenged to perform and excel in an extreme environment. But more than that, they were able to do it as a team and with allies, which besides the training, was the whole point of the exercise.

“One of the things we’ve stressed is teamwork. It’s absolutely critical that we all work together as a team and ensure that everyone makes it up as a team,” said Williams.

After summiting the mountain, and reveling in the view, the Paratrooper leaders reformed and gingerly moved back to the base of the mountain.

While many of these troops may never again be subject to mountain warfare or operating in full kit at below zero temperatures, the experience proves that Sky Soldiers will always achieve their mission weather jumping from 1,000 feet, or climbing their way past that same height.

Story By MAJ Chris Bradley, Photos by SPC Henry Villarama

Futures Command‘s 2018 Modernization Stories

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

FORT MEADE, Md. — The Army has initiated many changes to help modernize the service, bolster readiness, and increase lethality.

Below is a list of some of the biggest modernization stories that impacted the force in 2018. (Links to the original stories follow this article.)


In July, senior leaders announced that Austin, Texas would be the new home for Army Futures Command.

Selected from about 150 competing locations, Austin offered a growing community of professionals within the science and tech industries. Further, the city hosted academic institutions with thousands of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Back in October 2017, the Army announced its intent to create a new command to drive the service’s modernization efforts. Army Futures Command was heralded as one of the most significant Army reorganization efforts since 1973.

In August, Army senior leaders converged in Austin to unveil AFC’s new headquarters in the University of Texas System building.

During the assumption of command ceremony, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley unfurled and presented the Army Futures Command flag to Gen. Mike Murray, the newly-appointed AFC commander.

Closing out the year, AFC unveiled its new “golden anvil” shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia, harkening back to former Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal coat of arms.


Army leaders recently released “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028,” which outlines possible solutions to counter and defeat layers of stand-off created by adversaries.

Referred to as MDO Concept 1.5, the new pamphlet published by U.S. Training and Doctrine Command refines the force’s Multi-Domain Battle concept released last year.

The concept asserts that over the years adversaries have studied how the U.S. military operates. Emerging technologies — such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics — have also changed the character of war.

The release of TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1 serves as a first step in the force’s doctrinal evolution, officials said.


This fall, the Army began fielding the new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle to the first selected units. A limited-user test of the SDM-R is also underway now at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The rifle is based on the Heckler and Koch G28E-110 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, or CSASS, and provides infantry, scout, and engineer squads the capability to engage with accurate rifle fire at longer ranges.

Additionally, this year the Army tested a new binocular with a wireless connection to rifle sites. The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, or ENVG-B, is scheduled for release to selected units sometime in fiscal year 2019.

The new device has both night vision and thermal-sensing capabilities and stereoscopic binocular depth perception, providing Soldiers with an illusion of depth on a flat image.

During testing, Soldiers had a 100 percent improvement in weapons qualifications, along with a 300 percent increase in detection of targets in day and night environments, and a 30 to 50 percent decrease in the time taken to shoot a target.

Soldiers that tested the new ENVG-B considered it to be “a game changer.”


The Army is working to replace its current Flame Resistant Ghillie System, which Soldiers consider to be bulky and somewhat uncomfortable at higher temperatures.

The new Improved Ghillie System will be modular and may be worn over a Soldier’s field uniform. Soldiers should be able to take apart the IGS and use pieces as needed.

The goal is for the IGS to cost less than the current $1,300 FRGS, and still have flame-resistant properties.


The Army is working to develop unique hypersonic weapons, similar to precision technology currently in development by the Air Force and Navy.

Hypersonic weapons move five times faster than the speed of sound and are designed to potentially deliver a precision-guided airstrike anywhere in the world within an hour.

While the Army establishes its hypersonic program office, representatives from the Army and other services will continue to work together to develop the military’s hypersonic weapons capability.

Currently, the joint team is working to create a standard “hypersonic glide body” to provide a means to deploy a hypersonic weapon.


Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper recently approved the new Intellectual Property Management Policy to support the force’s readiness and modernization efforts.

Before the new policy, the Army lacked a coordinated strategy to secure IP rights and fulfill its long-term sustainment goals. Previous examples of the acquisition process have shown that the Army often requests either too little, or too much IP.

The new policy attempts to kick off a cultural change within the Army and create a proactive approach to IP management and acquisition.


The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center revealed 15 Soldier-vetted technologies this year designed to improve command post capabilities.

For the past three years, CERDEC’s expeditionary Mission Command Science and Technology Objective has worked to improve command post infrastructure.

Overall, the new technologies will make it quicker and easier for Soldiers to both setup and tear down a command post and will help improve command post connectivity, agility, and scalability.


In the future, the Army could employ artificial intelligence to help process and simplify information, augment current or future systems, or enhance an operator or commander’s decision-making process.

Although the employment of artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, AI could aid Soldiers on the battlefield by providing leap-ahead technologies to help the force survive and win, according to Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville.

For example, AI capabilities could control robotic loader and firing mechanisms or provide targeting recognition capabilities to support Soldiers in ground combat. Further, AI could help determine the best time to perform maintenance or replace parts.

Overall, AI is one of the Department of Defense’s top priorities. The development and implementation of AI will be a critical component of other DOD priorities such as hypersonic weapons, and autonomous ground and air unmanned systems.


The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center has been experimenting with neurostimulation at the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Medford, Massachusetts.

Volunteers in the program have shown an increase in ability or attention span, improved navigation performance, or enhanced motor skills when participating in a series of controlled tasks within a testing environment.

Further, Soldier participating in the program shortly after initial-entry training have shown signs of accelerated learning. This increase in learning has the potential of closing the gap between low and high performers on specific tasks.


Strengthening the Army’s network against increasing cyber threats, all while making it accessible across each level of the Army, has become a crucial point of emphasis for Army leaders.

With network modernization as a top priority, the Army has set initiatives to develop an integrated network to win battles in peer-contested environments and work toward joint coalition interoperability.

Moving forward, the Army plans to scale the integrated network to brigade-sized formations. The service will start fielding formations in 2020.

By Devon L. Suits, Army News Service

Grenzschutzgruppe 9

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG 9) (English: Border Protection Group 9) is the German federal law enforcement unit responsible for counterterrorism.

AFSOC Combat Aviation Advisors

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

USAF MSgt Joseph Kimbrell, a Combat Aviation Advisor with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, prepares to load a motorcycle onto a C-145A “Combat Coyote” for a training mission.

The C-145A is capable of moving non-standard cargo into remote locations, usually inaccessible by larger, more traditional cargo aircraft.

Joint Communications Support Element Provides Support To Global Response Force

Friday, December 21st, 2018

CHITOSE, Japan — Whether on a hill, in a dale or on a dusty trail, battlefield communications are essential to every service member no matter their location. Be it the individual service member in the field to the pilot flying the jet, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is extremely important during times of conflict.

Not doing so could be the difference between life or death.

IC1 Jonathan Kelly and IC1, 1st Squadron, Joint Communications Support Element check a communications satallite dish on Camp Higashi-Chitose, Japan during exercise Yama Sakura, Dec. 12, 2018

As communication technologies advance and the tools used to intercept these technologies grow more elaborate, the need for proper battlefield-communications techniques becomes evermore important

Established units have specific processes already in place to meet their communications needs, however, when it comes to deploying units to locations lacking an established communication framework, many call upon outside agencies to supplement these needs.

One team commanders call on to do this is the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), part of Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), which falls under the U.S. Transportation Command and provides mission-specific, joint capabilities to combatant commanders needed to facilitate accelerated establishment of joint force headquarters, fulfill Global Response Force execution and bridge joint operational requirements.

“What sets us apart here at the JCSE, is that we provide an essential skill set that allows commands to work efficiently and effectively until they are able to bring up their own capabilities in order to sustain themselves,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Jonathan L. Kelly, 1st Joint Communications Squadron Team Chief.

Comprised of both an active and reserve components – of three active duty squadrons, two Air-National Guard squadrons and one Army reserve squadron – the JCSE enables both tactical and strategic communications. This is done by providing rapidly deployable, scalable, en-route and early-entry communications capabilities across the full gamut of operations enabling increased action of the joint force in support of the 10 combatant commands, special operations commands and other agencies, as directed.

“We are the embodiment of the total force and for this reason our units routinely exercise and deploy together, making for an effective team capable of meeting a wide range of mission-critical demands and tasks,” said Kelly.

At the heart of the unit’s core competency is its communications support for contingency operations. Using the latest technologies, JCSE is a tactical unit with the ability to operate at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. In addition, the element has the skill sets needed to support broader Joint Task Force operations ranging anywhere from 40 to 1500 network users.

“Here at the JCSE, we use the latest technologies in order to meet today’s operational requirements while also keeping up with the units’ wide-range mission requirements,” said Kelly. “We ensure our members are well trained communicators ready to deploy at any given moment.”

Today, the element has service members deployed to locations all around the world, covering a wide range of missions, including a team currently deployed to Higashi-Chitose, Japan, supporting exercise Yama Sakura 75.

Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral exercise involving the U.S. Military and the JGSDF with the purpose of enhancing U.S. and Japanese combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Just as in other exercises, the JCSE team at Yama Sakura, used their expertise to provide the real world capability for both NIPR and SIPR communications requirements, to support simulated battlefield communications.

By Petty Officer 1st Class Kiona Miller