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US Army Containerized Ice Making System

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

NATICK, MA — The Army is closer to getting ice to Soldiers on the battlefield after recent field evaluations proved the Containerized Ice Making System, or CIMS, can successfully generate and bag 3,600 pounds of potable ice per day and keep 1,200 pounds of that in cold storage for future use.

The CIMS’ capacity to produce on-demand ice meets the field feeding, medical, and mortuary affairs needs of Soldiers fighting down range.

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Soldiers from the 3rd Expeditionary Support Command, part of the XVIII Airborne Corps’ combat service support element, pass bags of ice from the Containerized Ice Making System, or CIMS, during a training exercise held at Fort Brag in April 2018. The CIMS was developed by the Product Manager — Force Sustainment Systems, and can successfully generate and bag 3,600 pounds of potable ice per day and keep 1,200 pounds in cold storage for future use. The CIMS’ capacity to produce on-demand ice meets the field feeding, medical, and mortuary affairs needs of Soldiers fighting down range. (Photo Credit: Mr. Jeffrey Sisto (RDECOM))

“Ice is a valuable commodity on the battlefield,” said Will Feather, a mechanical engineer with Product Manager — Force Sustainment Systems’ Food Service Equipment Team, or PM-FSS FSET, and CIMS lead project officer.

“There is a cost and security benefit to the government if we can create an organic ice making capability that will enhance the Soldier’s day-to-day life by providing all the other support that ice creates, including cold drinks, medical applications, mortuary affairs uses, and increased morale.”

The CIMS is a TriCon-sized ISO container that produces ice on demand when provided the required power and water from a potable source. The ice is then bagged in 10 pound bags, heat-sealed, then moved to an internal holding location that can support 1200 pounds of stacked ice bags.

It can be opened on three sides and features a floor and walls that are fully insulated to minimize the heat transfer through the unit. The storage location features an integrated platform capable of monitoring the location of ice bags in order to intelligently and efficiently pack and store them.

The CIMS features three operating modes: Ice Production, Cooling, and Sanitation — which are selected from a digital menu displayed on a control panel mounted to an exterior wall of the TriCon.

The respective modes give users the choice to either produce approximately 150 pounds of ice per hour, simply store previously produced ice, or purge all the water from the system to prepare it for cleaning, maintenance, or cold storage.

The system can also monitor ice production rates as well as ice storage temperature data.
Originally developed by PM-FSS’ FSET to meet the requirements of the Force Provider Expeditionary (FPE) Capability Production Document (CPD), the CIMS provides an organic ice-making capability that will save the Army significant costs by producing ice for units directly on site rather than shipping it into theater, resulting in reduced logistical support requirements while saving on waste, fuel, and resources.

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The Containerized Ice Making System, or CIMS, was developed by the Product Manager — Force Sustainment Systems, and can successfully generate and bag 3,600 pounds of potable ice per day and keep 1,200 pounds in cold storage for future use. The CIMS’ capacity to produce on-demand ice meets the field feeding, medical, and mortuary affairs needs of Soldiers fighting down range. Two third generation prototype CIMS units were brought in to support the XVIII Airborne Corps’ 3rd Expeditionary Support Command during a training exercise held at Fort Brag in April 2018. (Photo Credit: Mr. Jeffrey Sisto (RDECOM))

Since 2016, the FSET has been working to test and enhance its functional capabilities with CIMS developer, Rocky Research, through a congressionally funded contract.
“Incorporating the CIMS into a unit’s combat support services would drastically reduce the need for resupply missions and the inherent risk to Soldiers transporting ice via vehicle convoys in support of ground combat operations,” said Feather.

At a spring warfighter training exercise held at Ft. Bragg with the XVIII Airborne Corps, two CIMS units were brought into the basecamp for Soldiers to have ice on demand, allowing their functionality and performance to be tested and analyzed in field conditions.

“XVIII Airborne Corps’ combat service support element, the 3rd Expeditionary Support Command, approached us to ask for the CIMS to support their WFX training mission and we were able to make it happen,” said Feather.

The WFX provided an opportunity for the FSET and partner organizations to view it in operation and observe its technical performance. This allowed the engineers to identify areas that required adjustments and optimization. Some identified areas included improving airflow in the storage compartment, and optimizing the heat sealing of the bagging system.

The exercise also raised important questions for combat support decision makers, such as, ‘who would be responsible for it, and how would it get to the battlefield?’

Fortunately, the CIMS is easily transported by military or commercial equipment, including flatbed truck, railway car, ship, forklift, or any other equipment capable of transporting an ISO container. It has been designed for downloading and uploading with the Force Provider ATLAS forklift, and can be easily deployed and operated where power and water sources are available.

The CIMS’ refrigeration unit is easily maintainable and utilizes low-loss, quick-disconnect refrigeration tubing for the ability to repair without brazing. Additionally, it is designed to be operated by non-Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) specific, or 92G, users.

“Through the combined efforts of our partners from Combat Support/Combat Service Support (CS-CSS), the Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the Public Health Command, and Rocky Research, we’ve been able to successfully develop, test, and refine the capabilities of the CIMS,” said Feather.

The next step is to continue MIL-STD 810G representative testing of the third generation prototype, while developing an initial logistics package to include writing the technical and user maintenance manuals.

The continued testing will result in a Production Decision by ATEC in 2019, according to Feather.

“It’s our job to get ice to Soldiers in the most efficient way, and the CIMS design and capabilities are meeting the requirements to do that.”

At the publication of this article, Mr. William Feather has shifted to support the Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Net System (ULCANS) program. Mr. Jorge Lopez-Jiminian is the current project lead for the CIMS.

By Mr Jeffrey Sisto, writing for PM-FSS and shared by Army News Service

General Staff Requirement (GSR) New Assault Rifle

Monday, July 16th, 2018

So often in media, we see a blurb about an acquisition program and a year or so later we see a follow up story announcing a winner.  What happened during that year?  This article is my attempt to provide insight into the goings-on of an acquisition program.

In the summer of 2016 I had the great fortune to participate in the summer weapons trials in Pakistan.  This was part of a $1.3B USD acquisition program that would select the future battle rifle for Pakistan.  The program required the initially purchase of rifles from the original equipment factory with manufacturing and licensing rights to third party sales eventually shifting to new facilities being constructed in Pakistan.  Of the handful of US companies registered to attend, I found myself to be the lone representative from the United States.  Our offering was a 7.62 NATO, AR10-type rifle with a piston operating system.  I arrived in early June for a brief two-week trip and ended up leaving two months later.

As this is a firearms related blog, I’ll focus primarily on the testing aspects of the trials, but I would like to start off with some general thoughts.

Pakistan was the United States’ key ally in Southwest Asia during the Cold War.  President John F. Kennedy solidified this relationship by giving Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan a hero’s welcome in 1961. Fifty-five years later, as China’s influence in Pakistan grew with the construction of the New Silk Road and Gwadar Port, the US shifted its interests from Pakistan to India.  It is anticipated this area will soon dominate global trade.  As a participant in the General Staff Requirement (GSR) New Assault Rifle solicitation I had opportunity to visit Pakistan.  During my time there, my friend Adnan acknowledged this shift but said the US and Pakistan will again be close because the peoples of both countries like to fight and share the warrior ethos.

Entry to President Ayub’s home

I was continually impressed with the general knowledge of global politics possessed by even the common person.  
An individual might live in abject poverty, but they were keen to discuss the upcoming US election.  I was constantly being asked about my opinion of Clinton and Trump.

Typical roadside

I was impressed by the warmth of the Pakistani people and their friendliness.  I had the privilege to meet and form friendships with both the son of the former president of Kashmir and the husband of the former Bangladesh princess.  We shared fantastic conversations.

Amer and Adnan, great guys

Pakistan is a very poor country.  I showed up with the expectation that we could procure some of the basic tools needed to service the weapons during testing.  Just run down to Walmart.  Nope! For example, not even basic Allen wrench sets were available.  I informed my host Shameel, he should have told me all they have is dirt and water and to bring everything else.

When I arrived in Pakistan, the US embassy was on lockdown. I was the only American walking around.  It was a little disconcerting to see NGO, Embassy, and military types riding around in armored Land Cruisers I was just in a stock Toyota Corolla, but low vis works.  From my military and defense sales experiences, not having any US government back up or support was a bit unnerving at times.  That is when having good friends is vital.

Shameel and I at PAKORD Base, tremendous business associate. 

On to the trial…

The weapons trial consisted of numerous tests; below is a partial list:
• Technical briefings
• Hot chamber cook-off
• Iron sight accuracy
• Optics accuracy
• Penetration
• Hot and cold environmental chambers
• Interchangeability
• Endurance
• Pluff mud
• Sand test
• Mud

Each of these tests took place at different military installations and with varying numbers of participants.  
The following companies were invited to participate in the trials:
• Beretta
• Kalashnikov
• Sig Sauer
• Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK)
• CZ
• PWS
• FN Herstal
• LWRC Intl
• Zastava Arms
• Anderson Manufacturing Inc
• HK
• Hanwha
• Denel Land Systems
• Colt
• Steyr
• Armalite

Several of the companies had already completed the accuracy and environmental testing during the winter trials.  For the duration of the test only three companies were present; CZ, MKEK, and the company I represented.  Each weapon OEM and/or Pakistani representative paid for their participation in the trials including; travel, accommodations, use of military facilities, ammunition, etc — very different from the US or European approach where the military pays for the official testing.

Following is a summary of several of the tests, separated by facility with key observations notes.

Islamabad

The capital city of Islamabad was our operational hub from which we traveled to the various test facilities.  I took receipt of weapons from the freight forwarders and conducted an inspection as the weapons were inventoried into the Pakistani armory.  All participants conducted preliminary briefings on capabilities and waited for the requisite stamps and signatures for access to the military bases.

PAKORD Base

Cook-off test. Firing 120 rounds as quickly as possible, last 20 rd magazine is inserted into the weapon and a round is chambered.  To the best of my knowledge only the FN SCAR and HK G3 cooked off.

Accuracy at 100m.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.

Ammunition conditioned to 21°C (69.8° F).  At least two of the three groups must be less than 3.5moa or a 102mm circle.  In all accuracy testing the most accurate weapon was the US AR10 style rifle.


Team CZ with their test fixture

Accuracy at Effective Range.  400m firing iron sights.  600m firing optical sight.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.

Ammunition conditioned to 21°C (69.8° F).  On the range were MKE, CZ, and myself.  MKE was assigned two of the top shooters in the Pakistan army.  

CZ brought their factory sponsored competitive shooters. Representing the US was just me wishing I had spent more time using iron sights and blaming Drake and Magpul for my inability with their Pro Sights.(Actually, Drake and Magpul are great people.) My take away is that shooting groups for accuracy using iron sights is challenging especially when using the equivalent of M80 ball ammunition.  There was considerable variability inherent in the ammunition.

Range Facility after the grass was cut.  When we first showed up it looked like a field of straw.

Monsoon rains made for muddy conditions.  Seeing the black cobras crossing the roads kept me cautious when walking around.

Penetration at Effective Range.  

Shooting 10 gauge (3.42m) steel plates measuring 1.5m x 1.5m.  600m firing optical sight.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.  
8 out of 10 shots from 2 out of 3 groups from each weapon must pass through the plate.  During winter trials none of the rifles was able to consistently penetrate the plate.  

MKE and CZ started with mixed results, but all my shots penetrated the plate.  I had set my rounds in the sun and when they were hot to the touch I made my shots.  MKE and CZ quickly followed my example and were soon penetrating the plate with every shot.  It was interesting to see the lack of temperature stability for the powder/primer combination.

Extreme Climate Test.  Hot.  360 rounds loaded into magazines and three test weapons were conditioned at +60°C (140°F) for 12 hours.  All the test weapons performed without issue except for the US weapons, all of which had the bolt catch fall out of the weapon during testing and one of which launched the muzzle break down range.

Cold. 720 rounds loaded into magazines and three test weapons were conditioned at -40°C (-40°F).   Two cycles of 120x rounds fired from each weapon.  All the test weapons performed without issue except for the US weapons which would not chamber a round and did not fire a single shot.

Interchangeability Test.  Ten weapons broken down and placed into ten trays.  The first weapon started in tray one.  The second weapon started in tray two and ended in tray one.  

The third weapon started in tray three and ended in tray two.  The other weapons followed.  Breakdown as follows: (1) Barrel and Receiver (2) Bolt Assembly (3) Bolt Carrier/Cam Plate (4) Pistol Grip (5) Trigger Mechanism (6) Gas Tube Assembly (7) Piston Assembly  (8) Recoil/Return Spring  (9) Magazine  (10) Butt Stock

The components in each tray were assembled and ten shots fired.  There weren’t any function issues amongst the competitors, but fitment was tight on several of the CZ weapons.

Endurance Testing.  Condition of the weapons; cleaned and oiled.  Multiple series of 120 round intervals.  First magazine, five single shots and the remained fired in 3 to 5 shot bursts, with a rate of fire of 85 rounds per minute.  Subsequent magazines fired in 3 to 5 shot bursts, with a rate of fire of 85 rounds per minute.  After the 120-round sequence, the weapons cooled to within 2°C (35.6°F) of ambient, and then another interval was fired.  Weapons were cleaned and lubricated every 1,200 rounds.  

Accuracy at 100M, muzzle velocity, and rate-of-fire were tested at the beginning and end of each cleaning and lubrication cycle.  Only CZ and FN participated in the endurance testing with varying results.

Base Gharo

Mud Immersion Test.  Condition of the rifles; bolt closed on an empty chamber with a loaded magazine inserted and the muzzle capped.  The SSG took the rifles into the tidal pluff mud and rolled them in the mud until they were completely covered.  

MKE and CZ rifles along with Serbian and Chinese AK’s were able to get one or two rounds fired before jamming. The US weapon wouldn’t even chamber a round.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.  The SSG operators commented that when conducting operations where they know they will pass through pluff mud the only weapon they will carry is the AK.

   

SSG Range built by US Seabees

Pluff Mud.  I wish I had better photos capturing how much mud covered the weapons.

Sukkur

Sand Test.  Condition of the weapons, the muzzles were capped, and a round chambered.  The weapons were buried under two feet of sand and left to bake for one hour.  The temperature was 56°C (133°F) in the shade.  After the requisite bake, the weapons were dug up and test fired.  The US weapon wouldn’t fire.  The CZ and MKE rifle along with the Serbian and Chinese AKs were able to get one or two round fired before jamming.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.

Can you identify all the weapons?

Vladimir Onokoy, leader of the Kalashnikov trial team (another solo representative)

Mud Test.  Condition of the weapons; the muzzles were capped, and a round chambered.  Only the Chinese and Russian AK’s fired.  The Chinese AK had a single jam and once cleared continued to run.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.

Conclusion: No rifle passed all the tests without issues; however, the FN SCAR was the only rifle that was finalized, officially accepted, with licensed manufacturing approved.  

However, since the completion of the trials, Pakistan has purchased 140,000 AK 103 rifles.  The number of SCAR rifles purchased is zero – too expensive.

Takeaways: The AR10-type weapon is inherently accurate especially when compared to other service rifles, but the design leaves it very susceptible to dirt and debris.  Adding a piston system to the AR15/10/M4/M16 does not improve the reliability of the system in harsh environments due to design limitations.  Considering these trials, it is interesting to ponder weapon testing requirements of the United States and the small arms currently being used and purchased by the Services.  The selection approach of the United States may need to be rethought.  If you operate in harsh conditions where maintenance and cleaning may not be available, and you absolutely must have a rifle that fires every time you pull the trigger, then the Russian Kalashnikov AK is the answer.  Otherwise, keep your weapon clean and don’t let it get dirty.

Aside from all the technical and performance components of a procurement, you can’t discount the dynamics that money and politics play in winning a solicitation – which might be a subject better off discussed over a beer.

Keep an eye out for a subsequent article detailing how to test the functional accuracy of your rifle using lessons learned in Scandinavian and Pakistan testing.  Stop believing the marketing hype and get to know your rifle.

John Kennedy is a co-founder of www.proofmarkllc.com, a firearms accessories design and manufacturing company.  John was a contractor in OEF and OIF, with a background ranging from nuclear fuel production to ballistic protection.  He currently consults on risk management and global defense.

USAF Activates Recruiting Squadron Specifically For Battlefield Airman

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

The first squadron focused solely on recruiting Battlefield Airmen and combat support career fields stood up recently in a ceremony at the Medina Annex on Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

The reactivation of the 330th Recruiting Squadron, U.S. Air Force Recruiting’s 28th squadron, marks the first time in Air Force history that a unit will be dedicated to recruiting men and women for hard-to-fill positions within special operations and combat support roles.

The reactivation began with members of the Battlefield Airmen Training Group and the 330th RCS freefalling into the ceremony with the squadron guidon and the American Flag. Col. Ron Stenger, BATG commander and a special tactics officer, passed the guidon to Col. Robert Trayers, AFRS vice commander, and former commander of the 330th RCS when it was deactivated back in 2009.

Following the jump, members of the 330th RCS participated in memorial pushups at the Lt. Col. William Schroeder Memorial.

“Memorial pushups are a tradition in our community to recognize and honor our fallen comrades,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Hannigan, a liaison to AFRS from the 24th Special Operations Wing. “They are usually done after strenuous physical activity, because our fallen comrades did more than their physical body could. Our physical sacrifice of remembrance could never match up to their sacrifice.”

Shortly after the memorial pushups, the official party moved into the Lt. Col. Schroeder Auditorium for the assumption of command ceremony. Trayers provided remarks about the squadron’s heritage.

“It’s great to be able to reactivate this squadron with a great team and new leaders,” Trayers said. “You now have the important responsibility of recruiting the folks you want at the tip of the spear of our nation.”

The reason for activating the 330th RCS was to overcome the challenges of recruiting and training Battlefield Airmen, said Trayers.

Since the standup of the BATG in 2016 to the beginning of the current prep course, this activation completes the span between recruiting and training in the of the revolutionary new Special Operations recruiting model.

“What you see before you is an Air Force Chief of Staff directed fix to a 21 year problem,” said Maj. Heath Kerns, 330th RCS commander after receiving the guidon from Trayers. “Our squadron is exclusively focused on scouting, developing and guiding future Battlefield Airmen and combat support warriors to their combat calling.”

Kerns comes to AFRS with more than a decade of experience as a special tactics officer. The 330th RCS is designed to recruit and access the next generation of Special Operations Airmen and combat support forces, which include combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen, tactical air control party, survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE), and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).

According to Kerns, this recruiting squadron is necessary because you cannot mass produce special operators.

“The old model of taking someone off the street to recruit for the Battlefield Airmen pipeline showed a 90 percent attrition rate,” he said. “Out of 100 people, only 10 would make it. This was not only a challenge for the recruiting force to have such low numbers on a high level of candidates, but also a large monetary cost for the Air Force itself.”

Previously, a trainee would be assessed and trained by traditional recruiters, attend Basic Military Training, then begin the indoctrination course. Now, recruiters of the 330th RCS train and access potential candidates alongside contract developers, who are retired service members with experience in special operations and combat support roles.

Master Sgt. Richard Geren, a 330th RCS flight chief for the Texas area, spoke on the importance of selecting the right candidates for Battlefield Airmen and combat support missions.

“First, we make sure they are qualified for the Air Force,” Geren said. “Once we know they are qualified, we see if they are a good fit to become a Battlefield Airman.”

According to Geren, a good fit includes the right mindset, attitude and understanding of the demands of the Battlefield Airmen career fields.

“I want to sit down with every person to explain the ins and outs of every single job we are recruiting for,” he said. “I also want to share stories and examples of what a pararescueman or combat controller’s worst day might be. It’s not all Hollywood and cool gear. It’s about hard work, determination and teamwork.”

Similarly, recruiters took a unique approach to understanding the career fields they seek candidates for by immersing themselves in to Battlefield Airmen training. Kerns commended the squadron for attending the week-long indoctrination before activing the squadron and then closed the ceremony by speaking directly to the 330th RCS members.

“We will become an audacious display of innovation and collaboration,” he said. “We will succeed in bringing the highest quality of warriors the Air Force and the world has ever seen. You embody these qualities; they are forged through a pursuit of personal excellence and enduring great challenge so that you can inspire young men and women to follow you to their combat calling.”

Air Education and Training Command

Air Force Special Operations Command

Become A Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airman

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Do you have what it takes? The Air Force’s Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, or SOF TACPs, are ground special operators who direct air power on the battlefield. Specifically, these Airmen call in air and ground strikes while embedded with a special forces team, such as the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs. These SOF TACPs are selected from the conventional TACP force to integrate air and ground in Air Force Special Tactics, with only 5% of TACPs serving in special operations. The majority of SOF TACPs are assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, who have been continuously deployed “outside the wire” since 9/11.

AFSOC Public Affairs Team

Army Combat Fitness Test Set to Become New PT Test of Record in Late 2020

Monday, July 9th, 2018

FORT EUSTIS, Va. — Army senior leaders have approved a new strenuous fitness test designed to better prepare Soldiers for combat tasks, reduce injuries and lead to ample cost savings across the service.

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The six-event readiness assessment, called the Army Combat Fitness Test, is intended to replace the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.

Beginning October 2020, all Soldiers will be required to take the new gender- and age-neutral test. Before that, field testing set to begin this October will allow the Army to refine the test, with initial plans for up to 40,000 Soldiers from all three components to see it.

“The Army Combat Fitness Test will ignite a generational, cultural change in Army fitness and become a cornerstone of individual Soldier combat readiness,” said Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commander of the Army’s Center of Initial Military Training. “It will reduce attrition and it will reduce musculoskeletal injuries and actually save, in the long run, the Army a heck of a lot of money.”

At least six years of significant research went into the test’s development as researchers looked at what Soldiers must do fitness-wise for combat.

“Throughout that research and testing, the goal was to provide our leaders with a tough, realistic, field-expedient assessment of the physical component of their Soldiers’ individual readiness,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “The ACFT is scientifically-validated and will help better prepare our Soldiers to deploy, fight, and win on any future battlefield.”

Roughly 2,000 Soldiers have already taken the test, previously called the Army Combat Readiness Test. They also provided feedback as part of the Army Training and Doctrine Command and Forces Command pilots that began last year at several installations.

“The current PT test is only a 40 percent predictor of success for performing in combat and executing warrior tasks and battle drills,” Frost said. “This test is approximately an 80 percent predictor of performing based on our ability to test the physical components of combat fitness.”

SIX EVENTS

While the ACFT still keeps the 2-mile run as its final event, it introduces five others to provide a broad measurement of a Soldier’s physical fitness. The events are completed in order and can take anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes for a Soldier to finish.

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— Strength deadlift: With a proposed weight range of 120 to 420 pounds, the deadlift event is similar to the one found in the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, which is given to new recruits to assess lower-body strength before they are placed into a best-fit career field. The ACFT will require Soldiers to perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift (only one in OPAT) and the weights will be increased. The event replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment.

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— Standing power throw: Soldiers toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test muscular explosive power that may be needed to lift themselves or a fellow Solider up over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.

— Hand-release pushups: In this event, Soldiers start in the prone position and do a traditional pushup, but when at the down position they release their hands and arms from contact with the ground and then reset to do another pushup. This allows for additional upper body muscles to be exercised.

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— Sprint/drag/carry: As they dash 25 meters five times up and down a lane, Soldiers will perform sprints, drag a sled weighing 90 pounds, and then hand-carry two 40-pound kettlebell weights. This can simulate pulling a battle buddy out of harm’s way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.

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— Leg tuck: Similar to a pullup, Soldiers lift their legs up and down to touch their knees/thighs to their elbows as many times as they can. This exercise strengthens the core muscles since it doubles the amount of force required compared to a traditional situp.

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— 2-mile run: Same event as on the current test. In the ACFT, run scores are expected to be a bit slower due to all of the other strenuous activity.

The ACFT gauges Soldiers on the 10 components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current test only measures two: muscular and aerobic endurance.

TEST SCORING

The vast majority of policies with the APFT will likely be carried over to the new test.

Scoring could be similar with 100 points for each event for a maximum of 600. Minimum scores, however, may change depending on a Soldier’s military occupational specialty. Soldiers in more physically demanding jobs may see tougher minimums, similar to how OPAT evaluates new recruits.

“The more physically challenging your MOS, the more you’ll be required to do at the minimum levels,” said Michael McGurk, director of research and analysis at CIMT.

Another difference is that there are no alternate events planned for this test, he said.

Soldiers will still get adequate time to rehabilitate from an injury. But under a new “deploy-or-be-removed” policy, Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February that troops who are non-deployable for more than 12 months will be processed for administrative separation or referred to the disability evaluation system.

“Generally speaking, somebody who has a long-term permanent profile that precludes taking a fitness test may not be retainable for duty in the Army,” McGurk said.

At about $20 million, the new test will be more costly for the Army to conduct. A single lane of equipment at full retail value is about $1,200. A battalion set of equipment will range from $12,000 to $20,000. Those prices will likely drop as the Army buys more sets at wholesale.

Equipment should last about 10 years, meaning it will cost less than $3 per Soldier over time.

“If I have a femoral neck fracture in the hip of a Soldier, that injury will cost the government about $1 million,” McGurk said. “So, if I avoid 20 of those injuries a year I’ve paid for the program for the next 10 years for equipment. The potentials on return are very significant.”

COST AVOIDANCE

The Army estimates $4 billion is spent each year due to injuries, non-deployable Soldiers, accidents and other health-related costs.

As part of its culture change, the Army is building a Holistic Health and Fitness System to produce healthier and fitter Soldiers. The new test is one piece of the system, in addition to the OPAT, the improvement of fitness centers, and healthier options at chow halls.

Army researchers studied foreign militaries that have rolled out similar holistic programs and found them to be highly successful.

The Australian army, for instance, introduced it to their basic training and saw a roughly 30 percent reduction in injuries.

“Do I know we’re going to have a 25-30 percent reduction? No, but I certainly hope we will,” McGurk said. “We think [the test is] well worth it and it’s the right thing to do for Soldiers in any case.”

Feedback from Soldiers so far has also been overwhelmingly positive.

“As we all know, physical fitness training can become rather monotonous if people train the same way,” McGurk said. “So, a lot of them saw this as a great change and how it required them to use different muscles.”

While some Soldiers may disagree with replacing the current test, McGurk said that fitness has come a long way from 40 years ago when the APFT was first developed.

“In 1980, running shoes were relatively a new invention,” he said. “The Army was still running in boots for the PT test back then. Change is difficult, but we’re an Army that adapts well to change.”

ARMY VISION

In early June, senior leaders outlined what the Army should focus on over the next decade to retain overmatch against potential adversaries.

The 2028 vision statement, signed by the Army’s secretary and chief of staff, calls for modernized equipment, particularly the development of autonomous systems. It also stresses the need for physically fit and mentally tough Soldiers to fight and win in high-intensity conflict.

“Technology is going to be dominant and we need a lot of things that we’re looking at through modernization,” Frost said. “In the end, you still need the United States Army Soldier to be able to seize and hold terrain.”

The ACFT is a foundational method, leaders believe, that the Army can use to start a new era of fitness and obtain Soldier overmatch in combat.

“The current leadership … has really coalesced and understands the importance of fitness itself and the importance of the PT test to drive that change in culture,” Frost said. “They’ve made the decision and we’re ready to execute.”

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service

Army Electronic Warfare Prototypes Reach First CONUS Brigade

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

This article discusses the fielding of EW Systems to the 1st Infantry Division. However, similar systems have also been fielded to the European-based 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 173rd Airborne Brigade. In fact, those forward deployed systems have been used to conduct the first live Electronic Attack scenarios since the end of the Cold War.

FORT RILEY, Kan. — For today’s commander, having a clear picture of the battlefield is almost as much about understanding the electromagnetic spectrum as is it about reading a map.

To better equip and train brigades to compete against near-peer adversaries with sophisticated electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities, the U.S. Army recently delivered new EW prototypes to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division ‘Devil’ Brigade, marking the first unit stateside to receive the systems after completing fielding to select Europe-based units in February.

Staff Sgt. Kristoffer Perez, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities section, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, points toward a nearby objective during the final day of training with his section’s new electronic warfare equipment at Fort Riley, Kan. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division is the first unit stateside to receive the systems after completing fielding to select Europe-based units in February. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael C. Roach, 19th Public Affairs Detachment)

The training in the United States prepares the units for future potential deployments where they will use the new technologies in theater, and helps spread updated electronic warfare technology, knowledge and tactics throughout the force.

“This is really driving us to answer the question, ‘how do we, as EW professionals, get better tactically?'” said Warrant Officer 1 Christopher Mizer, an electronic warfare technician with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “Up until recently, the EW sections have been mostly planners on the brigade and battalion staffs, as well as the higher level. Now, our EW Soldiers can effectively move and maneuver and support the other warfighting functions with equipment on the ground, and that’s really driving us in how we train from here on out.”

This integrated package of EW capabilities, consisting of mounted, dismounted, and command and control systems for electronic sensing and jamming, were fielded to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley in March. In May and June, the unit’s electronic warfare officers, or EWOs, had a chance to use the equipment at the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, located in California’s Mojave Desert.

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Robinson (left), Electronic Warfare noncommissioned officer in charge, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, works alongside Staff Sgt. Susan Bradbury, Electronic Warfare noncommissioned officer, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, during the final day of training with their new electronic warfare equipment at Fort Riley, Kan. in April 2018. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael C. Roach, 19th Public Affairs Detachment)

Yet instead of working alongside the rest of their brigade at the NTC, which will come later this year, the EW Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division were at the NTC to participate as part of the Opposing Force, or OPFOR. The EWOs were able to push the equipment during operational scenarios by electronically locating the “blue” or friendly forces on the battlefield, passing that information to the OPFOR commander and even applying some jamming effects against the friendly forces.

“This was our initial test of the equipment away from home station in a realistic operational environment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Robinson, electronic warfare non-commissioned officer in charge with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “When our brigade goes to the NTC later this year we’ll be able to integrate the equipment within our organic brigade, using the equipment in the same environment but this time against the OPFOR.”

The systems are prototypes that serve as an interim solution until the Army’s enduring EW programs of record can be fielded. Together, they provide electronic protection, as well as the ability to detect and understand enemy activity in the electromagnetic spectrum, and disrupt adversaries through electronic attack effects.

“Recognizing this is a prototype system, it is still a step in the right direction,” Mizer said. “We haven’t had a system within the electronic warfare community that looks at the electromagnetic spectrum and forces Soldiers to think through what they are seeing, how that affects their commander’s mission, and how they can affect the spectrum to enable the commander.”

The Army Rapid Capabilities Office and Project Manager EW & Cyber developed and delivered the prototypes in response to an Operational Needs Statement from U.S. Army Europe. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division is the first brigade to receive the equipment and train with it in the continental United States. Units in Europe, including the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade and 2nd Armored Brigade, 1st Infantry Division were provided the equipment and have also used it operationally in exercises this spring, including Saber Strike and the Joint Warfighting Assessment.

Together these units in Europe, and now the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are adapting electronic warfare techniques for the brigade and below and providing valuable feedback on how to employ or “fight” the systems on the battlefield. The prototype fielding and training has also provided a chance for the different units to examine how to task organize cyber and electronic warfare personnel as they integrate the systems within their formations.

“If we did nothing electronic warfare-wise until we actually field a program of record EW system, we would be significantly farther behind,” Mizer said. “We wouldn’t know how to integrate them, operate them, maintain them or fight those systems when we get them. This is really informing that process. It’s forcing our EW Soldiers to look at the intellectual problem of determining how you fight an EW system. That’s something the Army hasn’t really done in almost three decades.”

That input is helping to feed information back into the enduring solutions. This approach, where the RCO worked with the program of record developer PM EW&C to adapt existing systems and incorporate emerging technologies to provide new EW effects and meet an emerging threat, enabled the Army to rapidly move an interim solution to the field in 12 months. The Army will continue this phased fielding approach, which incrementally builds EW capability through direct Soldier input and as new technologies are made available.

At the NTC, for example, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers were able to work directly with equipment developers on improvements to the systems, some of which could be incorporated over the next several months.

“We were able to work with the engineers and identify items that needed to be fixed,” Robinson said. “We expect some improvements shortly before we take the equipment back to our brigade’s rotation at the NTC later this year. We did point out that the systems need a more user-friendly interface and improvements are needed with the integration between the mounted and dismounted systems so we can get better end results from the information we’re receiving.”

By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, U.S. Army

Army to Extend OSUT for Infantry Soldiers

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

WASHINGTON — In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. Changes to the program are meant to increase Soldier readiness, making them more lethal and proficient before they depart for their first duty assignment, according to the Infantry School commandant, Col. Townley R. Hedrick.

Col. Jackson J. Seims relinquishes command of the 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade to Col. Thomas J. Siebold Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at Kanell Field, Fort Benning, Ga. In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence)

The new OSUT program will include expanded weapons training, increased vehicle-platform familiarization, extensive combatives training and a 40-hour combat-lifesaver certification course, said Hedrick.

Further, the change will include increased time in the field during both day and night operations and include an increased emphasis on drill and ceremony maneuvers.

A NEEDED CHANGE

For the past 44 years, Infantry Soldiers were trained in a 14-week program of instruction. Ten weeks were allocated to basic military training, and an additional four were reserved for training Infantry-specific skills, Hedrick said. The Infantry career field makes up approximately 15 to 17 percent of the total force.

U.S. Army Infantry Soldiers-in-training assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, begin their first day of Infantry one-station unit training (OSUT) February 10, 2017 on Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Ga. In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence)

Discussions about changing OSUT began shortly after Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis identified the need to re-establish readiness and build a more lethal Infantry force, Hedrick said. And the Army Vision, recently published by Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, reinforces the defense secretary’s priority.

“Extending OSUT is about increasing our readiness and preparing for the future,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said. “This pilot program is the first step toward achieving our vision of the Army of 2028. With more time to train on critical Infantry tasks, we’ll achieve greater lethality.”

In response to the increased focus on readiness, specifically within the Infantry force, leadership within the U.S. Army Infantry School approached the 198th Infantry Brigade, which trains all Army Infantry forces, and asked what could be done to make better Infantry Soldiers.

“We asked them if they had a longer training pipeline, what could they do with it,” Hedrick said.

In turn, the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Infantry School started a combined effort with the 198th Infantry Brigade and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to develop an improved 21-week OSUT program. After consulting with the Army chief of staff, however, the combined OSUT team was directed to extend the new program to 22 weeks and include combat water survival training, he said.

The preliminary 22-week OSUT pilot program is slated to start this July with a graduation date scheduled for December, the commandant added.

The new 22-week OSUT should begin in 2019, sometime between July and October.

With the upcoming 22-week course, the Infantry School has already identified what new Soldiers will be part of the improved training, Hedrick said.

“U.S. Army Recruiting Command has already gone back to those identified personnel, regenerated their contract, and let them know that they would be part of the first classes to execute a new and improved training program,” Hedrick said.

THE NEW PROGRAM

Under the new OSUT program, Soldiers will get more training with their M4 rifle and increased hands-on experience with the M240 machine gun and the M249 squad automatic weapon.

“So across all the Infantry weapons, they will get more bullets,” Hedrick said. “And they will also shoot more at night, rather than just doing a day familiarization fire.”

In addition to increased weapons training, Soldiers will receive more field training experience, including tactical training repetitions that focus more on squad formations during day and night operations, he said. The goal is to help trainees understand where they fall within a fire team or rifle squad and make them more proficient while operating in the field.

“We looked at land navigation and individual Soldier skills,” Hedrick said. “Under the new course, a Soldier will do an individual day and night land navigation course on their own. They will also do a basic combative certification. That improves the mental and physical toughness of Soldiers coming through the Infantry OSUT.”

Additionally, the Infantry School has added six days of vehicle platform training to the new program. Under the 14-week program, Soldiers only received one day of training with their assigned vehicle. During the new course, Soldiers assigned to a Stryker or Bradley unit will learn how to drive and perform maintenance on their assigned vehicle.

A U.S. Army Infantry Soldier-in-training assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, engages the opposing force (OPFOR) May 2, 2017, with a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) on a Stryker to provide support-by-fire during a squad training exercise, Fort Benning, Ga. In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence)

Furthermore, a more significant emphasis on drill and ceremony has been built into the new curriculum.

“It is all about conditioning, following commands and working as a unit, so you will see an increasing level of discipline through drill and ceremony,” the commandant said. “We think this gets us to the objective of a more expert and proficient Soldier.”

Changes to the program create an extended and more gradual training process to help decrease injuries caused by lack of nutrition or poor conditioning, Hedrick said

“We’ve developed a set of metrics, with the U.S. Army Research Institute for Behavioral and Social Science Solutions to try and evaluate how the Soldiers are doing during the 22-week pilot program versus the 14-week program,” Hedrick said. “We’ve got an evaluation plan to try and look at ourselves and see if the product coming out has an improved proficiency — like we think it will.”

MANNING AND FUTURE OSUT CHANGES

With an increased time of training, the Infantry School must expand from five to eight battalions to ensure the same annual throughput of approximately 17,000 well-trained Soldiers. Fortunately, resources and facilities are available at Fort Benning to support the new program, Hedrick said.

Additionally, the Infantry School has been working with TRADOC to ensure they have enough drill sergeants in place to meet the 2019 launch date for the new 22-week OSUT.

A U.S. Army Infantry Soldier-in-training assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, rappels off Eagle Tower March 4, 2017, on Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Ga. In 2019, the Army will extend one-station unit training for Infantry Soldiers from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence)

Under the current 14-week program, three drill sergeants are responsible for training a platoon of 60 Soldiers. For the 22-week program, the Infantry School is looking to augment OSUT companies with six additional Infantry instructors.

Overall, the additional instructors provide a better student-to-instructor ratio during certain aspects of the course, the commandant said.

At the conclusion of the 22-week pilot, the OSUT team will review the results and determine what parts of the program need to be re-sequenced. The pilot will also be used to determine the list of tasks assigned to each instructor, Hedrick said.

In addition to the changes to the Infantry School’s curriculum, the Army is looking at extending other OSUT programs. Currently, the U.S. Army Armor School and U.S. Army Engineer School are performing internal analyses of their curricula to determine what resources will be needed to extend their own programs.

“Extending Infantry OSUT will allow us to allocate more time to honing the necessary skills to provide greater capability to our commanders,” Dailey said.

With our first major change to Infantry training in 40 years, he said, we are investing in future Army readiness, which will ensure we are prepared to deploy, fight and win our Nation’s wars when called upon to do so.

By Devon L. Suits, Army News Service

Kit Badger – 8.6 Creedmoor & The Fix by Q

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Kit Badger goes over the new 8.6 Creedmoor, essentially the big brother to the 300 Blackout. The platform is The Fix by Q.

To read the rest of the story, visit kitbadger.com/8-6-creedmoor-the-fix-by-q