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Special Operations, 82nd Airborne Snipers Test New Modular Precision Rifle at Bragg

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — Operational testing of the Army’s newest generation sniper system — the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) — marks the project’s final hurdle before fielding.

“The modular nature of the PSR allows it to be tailored to meet mission requirements and is appealing to airborne Snipers who are typically armed with long-barreled precision rifles of a single caliber offering,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Love, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, Test Noncommissioned Officer.

Because of the single-caliber offerings, snipers requiring additional capabilities must deploy with additional weapons. The PSR can be configured for multi-calibers by the Sniper in the field and requires no higher level maintenance to reconfigure. It will also extend engagement ranges for both anti-material and anti-personnel target engagements.

“The increased engagement range will keep Snipers safer and increase the options for the local commander employing these combat multipliers,” said Sgt. Austin Stevens, a Sniper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

“With a folding stock and removable suppression system, the PSR will provide airborne Snipers a more compact load during airborne infiltration operations without reducing their lethality while providing a precision rifle platform more conducive to their combat environment,” said MK-22 Project NCO Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Copley.

Spc. Michael Liptak, a Sniper with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment immediately identified the attributes of accuracy in regards to the MK-22. “I was surprised at the accuracy and the straightforward approach to testing the PSR,” he said.

Prior to testing, Snipers from across the airborne and special operations community took part in new equipment training which included familiarization with the system, maintenance, target engagement, system configuration and zeroing procedures.

For Spec. Nathanael Keffer, a Sniper with 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, the PSR’s versatility to adapt to multiple mission sets was a marked advantage. “The PSR is a very versatile weapon system that can be tailored to meet multiple mission requirements,” said Keffer.

Mr. Larry Harris, ABNSOTD Deputy Chief of Test said, “The critical task in testing any small arms platform intended for use by airborne forces is ensuring zero retention of the primary optic subsequent to airborne insertion. “This is a critical gauge of the Paratrooper’s lethality during airfield seizure and other follow-on operations.”

To evaluate this performance measure of the PSR, the ABNSOTD test team applied the organization’s mobile weapons boresight collimator to the rifle after jumping to make sure the Sniper’s pre-mission zero was not degraded by shock during the jump.

“This process establishes a baseline for sight reticle locations prior to and post airborne insertion,” said Miles Crawford, Test Technology Branch Chief, ABNSOTD. “Testers can monitor any shift in the weapon sight reticle that may have been induced by shock associated with static line parachutes,” Crawford said.

Story by Mr. Mike Shelton, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

Photos by Mr. James Finney, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Base and Test Support Services contractor

Elbit Systems of America Awarded $54 Million Order as Part of the U.S. Army’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) Program

Friday, September 24th, 2021

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – September 23, 2021 – Elbit Systems of America has been awarded a second production order worth approximately $54 million to supply Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) systems, spare parts, logistics support, and test equipment for the U.S. Army.

“Elbit America’s ENVG-Bs provide warfighters with unprecedented situational awareness during limited visibility conditions, increased lethality through faster target acquisition, and other game-changing advantages on the battlefield” said Raanan Horowitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America.

These systems will be produced in Roanoke, Virginia, and will be supplied through February 2023.

“We are eager to support the U.S. Army’s transition to higher ENVG-B production rates, which will create additional jobs at our Roanoke facility, and throughout our extended US-based supply chain, generating a positive economic impact in the communities they reside,” Mr. Horowitz added.

This order is part of an Other Transaction Authority (“OTA”) contract announced by Elbit America on October 22, 2020, that could reach a maximum of approximately $442 million. The U.S. Army did not define an overall time frame for performance of the OTA contract.

The Army’s Promised “Ike”Jacket Is Happening

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Recently, USAFRICOM released this photo of Commanding General, Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, U.S. Army, wearing a prototype Ike Jacket as part of the World War Two-inspired Army Green Service Uniform. The optional item has been promised since the AGSU’s adoption along with a “bomber jacket.”

Last week, I saw MG Anthony Potts, PEO Soldier wearing one at DSEi in London but his aide kept him moving when I attempted to ask him about the jacket.

It’s happening; helpfully we’ll know the timeline soon.

Army Modernizes Tactical Power with Battery Interoperability

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army is modernizing tactical power and reducing logistics costs by developing standardized batteries for Soldier-worn and handheld equipment such as radios, GPS, night-vision devices and weapons.

Army Futures Command (AFC) engineers are leading the project to deliver eight sizes of batteries that share a common mechanical and electrical interface — the key to unlocking interoperability.

The Small Tactical Universal Battery (STUB) is the Army’s latest approach to develop a standard family of batteries, according to Dr. Nathan Sharpes, a research mechanical engineer with the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center — a component of AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM).

“Now is an opportune time to standardize power sources as the Army is prioritizing modernization and fielding electronics with greater capabilities requiring more energy than current systems,” Sharpes said.

The C5ISR Center is leading the program that will benefit Soldiers, the acquisition community, logistics personnel and industry, Sharpes said. The goal is to avoid the current model of fielding a proprietary battery for each piece of gear as technology developers have historically delivered unique batteries for new capabilities.

Each battery size provides a different amount of energy, from which Soldiers could choose, depending on their mission needs. This interoperable battery system will seamlessly deliver the correct voltage and power level needs to any device.

“Currently when a Soldier is on a mission carrying five different pieces of gear that each have a unique battery form factor, along with spares, that’s extra weight and items to keep track of,” Sharpes said. “With this family of interoperable batteries, Soldiers will see benefits cognitively and physically.

“Any battery in the STUB family will be able to attach to any device designed for it because of the standard interface. We’re also incorporating eight attachment methods — such as slide on, clip in and twist on — so devices can use the universal battery in different ways. Soldiers can focus more on their missions and less on which types of batteries and how many of each to carry.”

Standardization also alleviates the burden of battery design from manufacturers of handheld electronics. As industry develops new C5ISR technologies, they will be able to concentrate on core competency areas while adhering to the already approved universal-battery specifications. All vendors would follow the same battery guidelines, Sharpes said.

The new standard universal-battery sizes will also simplify logistics and reduce supply chain costs, as the Army will be able to move away from procuring, storing, testing and shipping a wide array of unique batteries required for each piece of Soldier-carried equipment, Sharpes said.

The C5ISR Center’s STUB initiative follows in the footsteps of the Army’s development of the thin, flexible Conformal Wearable Battery (CWB) that Soldiers wear on their vests as a central power source for wearable electronic devices, according to Christopher Hurley, chief of the Center’s Tactical Power Branch.

The CWB development aimed to reduce the number of battery types needed by enabling a single power source to provide extended runtime to select pieces of kit. Current Army research would enable equipment to use smaller STUB batteries when not connected to the CWB.

“The end result is an overall lighter and more energy dense Soldier kit,” Hurley said. “The C5ISR Center is working across Army organizations to create battery standards and specifications. These efforts will meet the demands of the numerous pieces of equipment a Soldier uses and the diverse operating environments in which they conduct missions.”

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The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.

By Dan Lafontaine, DEVCOM C5ISR Center Public Affairs

The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM). Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

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Guest Post sponsored by EXO Charge, and published with permission from the U.S. Army. EXO Charge will be exhibiting the STUB series at the AUSA Annual Exposition on their booth, #860 in Hall ABC. www.exocharge.com

 

Small, Mighty Robots Mimic the Powerful Punch of Mantis Shrimp

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Robot models the mechanics of the strongest punch in the animal kingdom

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Modeling the mechanics of the strongest punch in the animal kingdom, researchers with U.S. Army funding built a robot that mimics the movement of the mantis shrimp. These pugnacious crustaceans could pave the way for small, but mighty robotic devices for the military.

Researchers at Harvard University and Duke University, published their work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They shed light on the biology of mantis shrimp, whose club-like appendages accelerate faster than a bullet out of a gun. Just one strike can knock the arm off a crab or break through a snail shell. These crustaceans have even taken on an octopus and won.

“The idea of a loaded spring released by a latch is a staple in mechanical design, but the research team cleverly observed that engineers have yet to achieve the same performance out of a Latch-Mediated Spring Actuator that we find in nature,” said Dr. Dean Culver program manager, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory. “By more closely mimicking the geometry of a mantis shrimp’s physiology, the team was able to exceed accelerations produced by limbs in other robotic devices by more than tenfold.”

How mantis shrimp produce these deadly, ultra-fast movements has long fascinated biologists. Recent advancements in high-speed imaging make it possible to see and measure these strikes, but some of the mechanics have not been well understood.

Many small organisms, including frogs, chameleons, and even some kinds of plants, produce ultra-fast movements by storing elastic energy and rapidly releasing it through a latching mechanism, like a mouse trap. In mantis shrimp, two small structures embedded in the tendons of the muscles called sclerites act as the appendage’s latch. In a typical spring-loaded mechanism, once the physical latch is removed, the spring would immediately release the stored energy, but when the sclerites unlatch in a mantis shrimp appendage, there is a short but noticeable delay.

“When you look at the striking process on an ultra-high-speed camera, there is a time delay between when the sclerites release and the appendage fires,” said Nak-seung Hyun, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and co-first author of the paper. “It is as if a mouse triggered a mouse trap, but instead of it snapping right away, there was a noticeable delay before it snapped. There is obviously another mechanism holding the appendage in place, but no one has been able to analytically understand how the other mechanism works.”

Biologists have hypothesized that while the sclerites initiate unlatching, the geometry of the appendage itself acts as a secondary latch, controlling the movement of the arm while it continues to store energy. But this theory had not yet been tested.

The research team tested this hypothesis first by studying the linkage mechanics of the system, then building a physical, robotic model. Once they had the robot, the team was able to develop a mathematical model of the movement. The researchers mapped four distinct phases of the mantis strike, starting with the latched sclerites and ending with the actual strike of the appendage. They found that, indeed, after the sclerites unlatch, geometry of the mechanism takes over, holding the appendage in place until it reaches an over-centering point and then the latch releases.

“This process controls the release of stored elastic energy and actually enhances the mechanical output of the system,” said Emma Steinhardt, a graduate student at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and first author of the paper. “The geometric latching process reveals how organisms generate extremely high acceleration in these short duration movements, like punches.”

The device is faster than any similar devices at the same scale to date.

“This study exemplifies how interdisciplinary collaborations can yield discoveries for multiple fields,” said co-author Dr. Sheila Patek, professor of biology at Duke University. “The process of building a physical model and developing the mathematical model led us to revisit our understanding of mantis shrimp strike mechanics and, more broadly, to discover how organisms and synthetic systems can use geometry to control extreme energy flow during ultra-fast, repeated-use, movements.”

This approach of combining physical and analytical models could help biologists understand and roboticists mimic some of nature’s other extraordinary feats, such as how trap jaw ants snap their jaws so quickly or how frogs propel themselves so high.

“Actuator architecture like this offers impressive capabilities to small and lightweight mechanisms that need to deliver impulsive forces for the Army,” Culver said. “But I think there’s a broader takeaway here – something the engineering community and defense research can keep in mind. We’re not done learning about mechanical performance from nature and biological systems. Things we take for granted, like a simple sprung actuator, are still ripe for further investigation at many scales.”

By U.S. Army DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Ft Bragg Airborne Troops Support R&D to Prevent Soldier Head Injuries

Monday, September 13th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Airborne Soldiers here recently tested combat helmet sensors looking to help the Army lessen repetitive traumatic injuries to the head and neck while jumping from aircraft.

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate teamed up to do testing for the Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) newest Head Impact Monitoring Sensors.

Ongoing research supported by the ARL over the last 10 years has developed improved monitoring devices and the implementation of many new protective gear developments.

“Ultimately our goal for the Rate Activated Tether (RAT) helmet suspension is to increase the blunt impact protection in all combat helmets for all Soldiers,” said Thomas Plaisted, the ARL Materials Engineer Research Lead.

He said whether Airborne or ground-based operations Soldiers, the goal is to achieve a comfortable and stable helmet fit with minimal added weight.

“The Impact Monitoring Mouthguard (IMM) is a ‘Check Engine’ sensor that provides understandable and objective head impact and blunt force data to line leaders regarding the readiness of their Service members,” said Dr. Adam Bartsch, Chief Science Officer for Prevent Biometrics.

For the past year, the IMM Team has been collaborating with the ARL to evaluate the RAT impact absorption system fitted into the Army Combat Helmet.

Testing of the IMM and RAT began mid-July with a day of ground training and familiarization, followed by combat-equipped jumps on Fort Bragg’s Holland Drop Zone.

“The findings from this test are vital in understanding the physical demands Soldiers encounter while conducting airborne operations,” said Capt. Tyler Miller, ABNSOTD Operations Officer.

“With this data, leaders and researchers can develop equipment and processes to better protect paratroopers.”

Ground training consisted of experts from ARL and Prevent Biometrics conducting training on proper wear and fitting of the RAT and IMM.

The test jumpers then tested the equipment on the ground with Sustained Airborne Training, Parachute Landing Falls on various surfaces, and then practicing jump commands and aircraft exits out of a mock door trainer.

That was followed by combat-equipped training jumps on Fort Bragg’s Holland Drop Zone from U.S. Air Force C-17 Aircraft, along with Paratroopers from 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, who were already jumping for training for mass tactical airfield seizure insertions.

“The ability to test and put these new and emerging technologies directly into the hands of our Soldiers goes far too rapidly evolve technology for the future of the Army,” said Miller.

Data collected from post jump surveys and the head impact sensors will lead to further development of protective equipment for Paratroopers.

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division plan to assist medical researchers, by utilizing the IMM for further head impact data collection during training events over the coming months.

The data these Soldiers will gather will assist researchers in further development of protective equipment and techniques to prevent future mild traumatic brain injuries from combat and everyday training events.

By CPT Christopher Weber, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

US Army Awards Two Companies to vie for Next Generation Integrated Head Protection Systems

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

The Department of Defense announced the following award for Next Generation Integrated Head Protection Systems.

“Avon Protection Ceradyne LLC, Irvine, California (W91CRB-21-D-0022); and Gentex Corp., Simpson, Pennsylvania (W91CRB-21-D-0023), will compete for each order of the $87,619,643 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of Next Generation Integrated Head Protection Systems. Bids were solicited via the internet with two received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 6, 2023. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.”

In June, the Army published an intent to sole source this contract to Avon and Gentex.

NG IHPS is described as:

20 years Later: Search and Rescue Soldiers Reflect on 9/11

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Two decades ago as the nation reeled from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a unique team of search and rescue Soldiers put their training to work at the Pentagon when they were needed the most.

The effects of that Tuesday morning left a lasting legacy on the Army’s Military District of Washington Engineer Company. Years later, the unit was renamed the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company for its efforts that day.

As flames and black smoke billowed from the Pentagon, the team rushed to the disaster site without waiting on orders and spent 10 days engaged in search and rescue operations.

Soldiers from the 911th TREC come from a variety of backgrounds — combat engineers, firefighters, horizontal and vertical construction engineers and various support specialties — who receive training and certification as rescue technicians and mine rescuers.

The 911th TREC is the only technical rescue company in the Department of Defense and its Soldiers train for “the nation’s darkest day daily,” said Capt. Joseph Thomson, its commander.

That September morning

On Interstate 395, a congested spur route connecting Virginia to Washington, D.C., Dewey Snavely was on terminal leave and adjusting to civilian life. The sergeant took a job at Sunbelt Rentals, a construction equipment rental company in Springfield, Virginia.

That morning he had already made a delivery to a nearby construction site and was heading to the next place on their schedule.

While driving, he listened to the radio as the situation unfolded in New York City, where a plane had struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. At first, many speculated the ways it could have been an accident.

But Snavely said he began to think the worst. His gut feeling was all but confirmed shortly after when a second jetliner struck the south tower.

Snavely asked his coworker, Dan, if driving into Washington, D.C., was the best idea, he said. Since the incident seemed limited to New York, his coworker believed it would be OK, so the pair continued their schedule.

Their next stop was on Shirlington Road in Arlington, roughly 3 miles from the Pentagon. That’s where they heard a low-flying plane soar overhead, Snavely said. Although hearing takeoffs and landings near the Reagan National Airport was common, it was never this loud.

Unbeknownst to Snavely, he heard American Airlines Flight 77 as the hijacked jetliner headed toward the Pentagon.

“We looked up, then kind of looked at each other,” he said. “[I thought,] ‘what the hell is that [pilot] doing?’ I’ll never forget the sound of the engines throttling back when they’re decelerating.”

Less than a minute later, Snavely heard AA 77 explode into the Pentagon’s western wall, killing everyone on board and 125 in the building. Black smoke filled the sky.

Snavely knew his terminal leave was over, and even if it wasn’t, he had a job to do.

Weeks before, Snavely had turned in all his Army gear, but he knew once the Pentagon was under attack it was time to turn around, head to Fort Belvoir and do what he was trained for, he said.

‘A quick response’

Around this time at Fort Belvoir, the rescue unit’s Soldiers were well into another training day.

“We [already] did all of our in-house training, from rope rescue to confined space to collapse structure, to shoring anything in that nature,” said Fred Brown, then a senior noncommissioned officer, who now works as a Fairfax County Government project manager.

It was just before 9 a.m. and Brown was preparing for his next training class when the news coverage from New York caught his eye.

A group of his Soldiers was on their way to a funeral service less than an hour away at Quantico. Brown called back the Soldiers, but with the incident occurring in New York his leadership insisted they continue.

That changed at 9:37 a.m. when five men affiliated with al-Qaeda deliberately flew AA 77 into the Pentagon, matching the tactic in New York. The unit would be tested for the first time.

Brown quickly called the squad back from Quantico and “got everything together,” he said. “We were prepared to move within an hour.”

America under attack

An initial team flew by helicopter with a sling load of basic search and rescue equipment, but was asked to land because the last hijacked plane was still in the sky, Brown said.

So, the team pre-staged at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. At Fort Belvoir, roughly 30 minutes south, more Soldiers loaded equipment into Humvees intended to rescue lives, said Snavely, who met with Brown on the ground.

Brown and Snavely left Fort Belvoir by Humvee before the main body to access the George Washington Parkway and met with the advanced team at Fort McNair.

When the unit arrived at the Pentagon, “there was a bit of chaos,” Brown said, adding that the incident commander expected them. The bulk of their unit arrived shortly after and they were joined by local, state and federal responders.

“While waiting on the main body [of the unit] to show up, we took the first squad into the building to do an initial search and rescue,” Brown said. “This was after everybody that was going to come out, could come out.”

As the fires blazed, it was still unclear how bad things were inside the building. But according to Brown, that was when their training kicked in. The untested unit was ready for the challenge.

“I didn’t think of anything except making sure that my guys were suited up correctly,” he said. “We were supplied with air apparatuses, and we went in and did the search.”

As horrific as the scene was, it was personal for Brown on another level.

“My mother-in-law was in the building somewhere,” he said. But “I didn’t know exactly where she was in relationship to the plane or where the plane went in.”

Cellphone technology was relatively new, Brown said, and even today the Pentagon’s thick walls hinder most personal phones. As more information became available, the situation for Brown’s family became grimmer.

“Sgt. Brown and I looked at where the plane hit, and relatively knowing where she worked,” Snavely said. “Nobody [had] heard from her, but her car was still in the parking lot.

“The plane hit and went right through her office. She was in the Army’s Budget Analyst’s Office. I got ahold of my father-in-law and he told me what room she was in. I had to notify him that if he hadn’t heard from her, she probably wasn’t alive anymore.”

Later, it was confirmed that Brown’s mother-in-law was killed. He would eventually locate her, although only “90% sure it was her,” he said, after his team spotted her personal effects, like her purse and government identification card.

The darkest day

“It was a living hell,” Snavely said. “When we first went in, there had been water sprayed on the building for so long, there was so much water in between the corridors, walkways had filled up with water.”

The water had nowhere to drain. Debris was everywhere, including parts of the plane, building and victims.

“Whenever we found human remains, we informed the [Federal Bureau of Investigation] because, by now, it is a known terrorist attack,” Snavely said, adding the FBI required them to mark where they spotted causalities to help identify them.

Snavely vividly remembers finding three Army officers, all face down, in an inner corridor. All three were intact, but appeared to have died instantly. He checked their wallets to identify them, then notified the FBI, he said. It would be the largest investigation in the bureau’s history.

From “the best that I can remember, everybody that we found died in the impact,” Snavely said. Although news footage would replay images of personnel running out of the building, they were all out by the time the Soldiers entered the building.

The recovery site was not like the others the unit trained for, such as responding to a natural disaster.

The heavy loss of life weighed on the Soldiers, who “were feeling a lot of disappointment,” Brown said, especially given how hard they trained to save lives. The Soldiers faced the realization they probably would not find anybody alive.

This was stressful for a unit that trains to rescue, Brown said. As the body count rose, it became more and more challenging to stay motivated.

“[We’re] search and recovery, but we switched into recovery mode only,” Brown said. “We just dealt with it. Many of the young Soldiers were recovering unrecognizable bodies, often unable to decipher burnt insulation from the flesh.

“It was hard on them,” he added. “I made them understand I appreciate what they’re doing, the country appreciates what they’re doing and to let me know if there are any issues they’re having.”

Always on call

However difficult the following days would be, one silver lining that always stuck with Snavely and Brown was how well trained the unit was, they said.

“We had a mission to do, we had a job to do and we went forward and we executed that job,” he said. Even though “I was on terminal leave, I couldn’t imagine not being there.”

According to Brown, the unit’s challenging, realistic training is why nobody from their team was hurt during the dangerous response effort.

“Everyone functioned as they should have,” Brown said, and “a lot of them continued in the military.”

Heading into the Pentagon mission, “we were an untested unit,” he added. “This unit was never in this situation before. Nobody knew exactly what we would face.”

In all, nearly 3,000 people died that morning in New York, Arlington and Pennsylvania. Decades later, the unit still maintains a high level of training and stands ready to be called on again.

“Soldiers train on five technical rescue disciplines,” Thomson said. “Those include rope rescue, confined space rescue, structural collapse, mine or tunnel rescue, and trench rescue.”

Today’s search and rescue Soldiers maintain readiness by aligning their training needs around their technical rescue disciplines, the captain added.

“It’s an honor to serve as the commander of the 911th, especially on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001,” Thomson said. “This organization has deep roots and traditions that we always look to honor and uphold.”

In 2006, the unit was redesignated as the 911th to commemorate their recovery efforts at the Pentagon.

Since the attack, “the unit has grown by leaps and bounds,” Brown said. “They’ve gained equipment that we only dreamed of. It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come.”

Those leaps and bounds are a direct reflection of how they performed, he said.

“The biggest thing that I’m proud of is how well our training paid off,” Brown said, regarding the Pentagon mission. “The Soldiers that went in there performed their duty, and they did it well.”

By Thomas Brading, Army News Service