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Army’s Soldier and Squad Performance Research Institute Will Increase Lethality, Resilience

NATICK, Mass. — “No Soldier ever fights alone,” says Cynthia Blackwell, the S2PRINT project director at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC.

The ways in which Soldiers interact individually, in squads and on small teams play a key role in success on the battlefield. This is one of the main ideas behind the creation of the Soldier Squad Performance Research Institute, or S2PRINT.

NSRDEC and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, have joined together to lead the development of this state-of-the-art facility, which is slated to be built at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts.

The institute will empower NSRDEC’s and USARIEM’s world-class scientists and engineers with a controlled, cutting-edge, and mission-relevant environment in which to perform applied studies to uncover ways to optimize Soldier and squad performance and enhance combat readiness.

U.S. Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) engage opposing forces in a simulated exercise during Saber Junction 18 at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Sept. 26, 2018. The ways in which Soldiers interact individually, in squads and on small teams will be a key area of study for the Army’s new Soldier Squad Performance Research Institute, or S2PRINT. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Gabrielle Weaver)

S2PRINT’s emphasis is on Human Performance Optimization, with research focusing on the individual Soldier’s and the squad’s cognitive, social, physiological, physical, and nutrition-based performance. Blackwell explained that S2PRINT will provide the Army with a greater understanding of teams, leading to the optimization of team interactions and team dynamics.

S2PRINT will help researchers to develop validated performance and training strategies; tools and interventions for the Soldier, leader and small unit; techniques to mitigate injury; and interventions to increase Soldier and squad resilience and longevity.

Studies performed in the S2PRINT facility, which will include several operationally relevant laboratories, will help researchers baseline, measure, predict and optimize individual and small unit readiness, performance, and resiliency across real-world, mission-essential tasks. Outcomes/findings of this research will ultimately help improve readiness, enhance mission performance, and increase Soldier and squad lethality.

The new facility will also enhance NSRDEC’s and USARIEM’s already strong collaborations with top-notch academic institutions, cutting-edge industrial partners, and other DOD agencies and initiatives. As with other work performed by NSRDEC and USARIEM, the knowledge obtained through S2PRINT will lead to technologies and informational resources that will benefit not only warfighters but also first responders.

Moreover, Natick will be able to develop and evaluate prototype gear and emerging technologies more quickly than ever before, accelerating the delivery time of critical information and equipment to troops in the field — all while reducing costs.

S2PRINT is expected to become operational in the spring of 2023.

By Jane Benson, NSRDEC Public Affairs

4 Responses to “Army’s Soldier and Squad Performance Research Institute Will Increase Lethality, Resilience”

  1. Zach says:

    Sorry to be the guy with the kit questions, but what is the massive pouch attached to the guy on the rights hydration pack? It is not a sustainment.

  2. Zach says:

    Now that I have looked at my phone forever it appears it is a sustainment and he just put the side plastic through the grimloc.

  3. Kirk says:

    Well, hopefully they’ll overcome the historical norms, and actually manage to do some good.

    The thing that makes most of these “initiatives” fail is the usual lack of actual bottom-up information and data flow. You go ask a squad leader with actual troop time out in the field what the problems are, and how to fix them…? You will get significantly different answers than if you go ask the Ph.D types from the research institutions what they are.

    The really bad thing is, the guy who gets listened to? It ain’t the man with actual troop time, it’s the guy with the cute little letters after his name. Which is what turns most of these things into travesties of utter abortions.

    Time was, I did a lot of work with the AN/PSS-12, and talked to what was then probably the foremost practitioner with that mine detector, a gentleman formerly of Vietnam-era EOD experience. From talking to him, and doing a bunch of work on my own with the things, it was pretty clear that what our procedures and training had us doing was not… Optimal, to put it kindly. The Scheibel was a lot more capable than what we were doing with it enabled it. I wrote up a nice little position paper, with data from Floyd, and that went up to the Engineer Center. It included a butt-load of stuff, like mine range designs that included actual dummy mines with the correct amounts of metal in them, and all that other sort of thing. Y’know, what a senior NCO who was good at training would come up with as necessities…

    I don’t know what happened, but that whole thing vanished into the maw, and I never heard back from them. Without the schoolhouse support, and the instructions to actually train the damn things, none of that was happening. Life ensued, I had other things to worry about, and I forgot about that issue.

    Lo and behold, what happened within less than six years? Anyone remember that safety-of-use message about the AN/PSS-12, that changed how we used the damn things? Came out of a civilian employee up at the engineer school, one who was a Reserve Major, and who had a Ph.D. He, too, had talked to Floyd Rockwell before his untimely death in an auto accident, and his “parallel” research came to the same conclusions that mine had. Difference was, though, he was a credentialed sort of person, so he got listened to. Same data, similar presentation, but because of that gold leaf and Ph.D, he got listened to.

    Oh, and oddly enough, even though I was assured that nobody up at the school involved in this thing had ever even seen my work, the ranges drawn up by the schoolhouse looked just like my sketches. Which were drawn up to fit in TA 2, over near the ROTC slide-for-life.

    Funny, that.

    • Kirk says:

      Shoulda mentioned Fort Lewis in that, or the reference to TA 2 becomes indecipherable…