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Army Injury Assessment Tool Receives Stamp of Accreditation

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Underbody blasts from improvised explosive devices were the largest cause of injury for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan This signaled a vital need for an anthropomorphic test device, or ATD, to replicate the response of an underbody blast environment on Soldiers.

The Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin, coined WIAMan, filled that need. WIAMan is an ATD for military use in underbody blast testing of ground vehicles. Developed by the Instrumentation Management Office at the Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, WIAMan represents the most human-like surrogate yet to provide insight on improving military ground vehicle systems and identify protection mechanisms that reduce the likelihood and severity of warfighter injuries.

Analytical experts from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, ensure that WIAMan output is processed to provide reliable injury assessment and analysis. The DEVCOM Analysis Center, known as DAC, processes this immense amount of data via a software analysis tool known as the Analysis of Manikin Data, or AMANDA. On Feb. 2, AMANDA was accredited by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command for use in live fire test and evaluation — a final stamp of trust in quality and accuracy.

According to Kate Sandora, AMANDA model manager, AMANDA’s most recent release and accreditation is a culmination of a large effort by DAC and its partners, encompassing all WIAMan injury criteria developed over ten years of biomechanics research. The accreditation provides more confidence for the live fire testing community and current users, including DAC, DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center.

AMANDA is not a single injury model, but an analytic framework composed of multiple types of injury criteria and reference values integrated together. AMANDA processes accelerations, forces and moments recorded by WIAMan and other ATDs as input, comparing the ATD data with associated injury criteria to make predictions of injuries and determine the injury type, location and severity. AMANDA can also read in and process simulated data in lieu of physical testing.

While WIAMan is the hardware subjected to the blast event to record data, AMANDA is the software allowing the collected data to be processed for analysts’ use, pre-loaded with accredited criterion for injury. The resulting analysis has significant impact on Army vehicle design to improve survivability when Soldiers are subjected to an underbody blast environment. Simply put, insight from AMANDA saves lives.

“The WIAMan data acquisition system takes samples from an event at a rate of approximately 200,000 samples a second, and the typical event takes a couple seconds, so we’re talking around 400,000 data samples — an incredible amount of data,” said Jacob Ehlenberger, AMANDA software developer. “When you load that into AMANDA, all subject matter experts have to worry about is looking at the results. AMANDA automates the entire process, bringing complex analysis to the hands of experts so they can focus on their domain of excellence.”

AMANDA also integrates filtering methodology, developed by Aaron Alai, a DAC signal processing scientist, to ensure sensor data does not reflect extraneous noise that could lead to incorrect injury prediction.

“A common misconception is that sensors and data acquisition systems measure only what one intends for them to measure, but in reality, they respond to anything that can influence the measurement pipeline: a litany of sources from electromagnetic noise to mechanical linkage vibrations. So, data must be filtered to glean accurate information,” Alai said. Alai leveraged frequency analysis to come up with a new method of inferring appropriate filters, working with Ehlenberger and other DAC teammates to ensure they are implemented and contextualized properly.

DAC analysts can then more reliably provide injury assessments that inform vehicle evaluation, design and requirements to better protect Soldiers, bypassing time-consuming manual data manipulation.

Sandora and Ehlenberger, who have worked closely with both analysts and developers of the design and standards for WIAMan, commend the experts’ diverse perspectives to make appropriate injury assessment possible. “You have subject matter experts in the field of human vulnerability working in close contact with engineers of high caliber discussing the ATD experience and mechanical response,” Ehlenberger said. “It is such an impressive marriage of distinctly different and invaluable expertise.”

It is through extensive testing and problem-solving from these experts that WIAMan can produce data to feed AMANDA analysis, ultimately enabling the Army to better quantify risk to the warfighter and identify trade-offs during vehicle design. This analysis ensures growing Army knowledge in human vulnerability and automotive design — and soon, even more, as AMANDA will be integrating more WIAMan injury criterion this fiscal year.

By Kaylan Hutchison, DAC Strategic Communications

NGSW Signifies an Evolution in Soldier Lethality

Monday, May 16th, 2022

WASHINGTON –- The future Soldier will soon be significantly more lethal.

The Army recently announced that the Next Generation Squad Weapon, the XM5 rifle and XM250 light machine gun will replace the M4/M16 rifle and the 249 light machine gun, with some Soldiers expected to receive the weapons by the fourth quarter of 2023. New Hampshire-based weapons manufacturer Sig Sauer was awarded the contract.

The new weapon system will use the 6.8 mm family of ammunition instead of the 5.56 mm ammunition the M4/M16 utilized. The 6.8 mm has proven to outperform most modern 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition against a full array of targets.

“We should know that this is the first time in our lifetime – this is the first time in 65 years the Army will field a new weapon system of this nature, a rifle, an automatic rifle, a fire control system, and a new caliber family of ammunition,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Burris, the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team director. “This is revolutionary.”

Army units that engage in close-quarters combat will be the first to receive the weapons including those with 11B infantrymen, 19D cavalry scouts,12B combat engineers, 68W medics, and 13F forward observers.

According to Brig. Gen. William M. Boruff, the program executive officer in the Joint Program Executive Office, the course of action to support readiness with the new ammunition is going to be carried out through a combined effort of the industrial base at Sig Sauer and the Lake City Ammunition Plant.

“Now, consider preparing a new weapon fielding starting with absolutely zero inventory and the industrial base being established. It’s daunting,” Boruff said.

Despite starting from the ground up the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant has actively began producing rounds during the prototyping process and will continue to provide ammunition in the future.

In 1964, before the Army entered the Vietnam conflict, the M16A1 rile was introduced into the service’s weapons rotation. It was a significant improvement on the M14 rifle, and it became the standard service rifle for Soldiers.

“The Next Generation Squad Weapon and ammunition will provide an immense increase in the capability for the close-combat force,” said Brig. William Boruff, program executive officer for armaments and ammunition.

In 2017, the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration Study identified capability gaps, and in 2018, the Next Generation Squad Weapon program was established to counter and defeat emerging protected and unprotected threats.

“We are here to establish overmatch against near-peer adversaries, and that is more urgent and relevant today than any time in recent history,” Burris said. “We are one giant step closer to achieving overmatch against global adversaries and threats that emerge on the battlefield of today and tomorrow.”

During the prototyping phase, the NGSW outperformed the M4 and M249 at all ranges, and leaders said that the maximum effective ranges will be validated during another testing phase.

Burris said that with the help of industry partners, the Army accelerated through an acquisition process that normally takes eight to 10 years to complete in only 27 months.

More than 20,000 hours of user feedback from about 1,000 Soldiers were collected during 18 Soldier touch points and more than 100 technical tests have shaped the design of the NGSW system. The Army will continue to improve on the weapon systems by combining new technology while decreasing size, weight, power and cost.

“This is a process driven by data and shaped by the user, the Soldier who will ultimately benefit on the battlefield,” Burris said. “The Soldier has never seen this full suite of capabilities in one integrated system.”

“We committed to kitting the Soldier and the squad as an integrated combat platform in order to introduce and enhance capabilities holistically. We are committed to creating an architecture that facilitates technology growth and capability integration across those platforms,” Burris added.

The XM5, which weighs about two pounds heavier than the M4, and the XM250, which is about four pounds lighter, are still in their prototype phase and may change slightly by the time it is out for mass production. The XM5 weighs 8.38 pounds and 9.84 with the suppressor. The XM250 weighs 13 pounds with a bipod and 14.5 with the suppressor.

Currently the XM5 basic combat load is seven, 20-round magazines, which weighs 9.8 pounds. For the XM250 the basic combat load is four 100-round pouches, at 27.1 pounds. For comparison: the M4 carbine combat load, which is seven 30-round magazines, weighs 7.4 pounds, and the M249 light machine gun combat load, which is three 200-round pouches, weighs 20.8 pounds.

The overall length of the weapons with suppressors attached are 36 inches long for the XM5 and 41.87 inches long for the XM250. The barrel of the XM5 is 15.3 inches long and the XM250 is 17.5 inches long. The barrel on the XM250 is also not considered a quick-change barrel like the M249.

“We are facilitating the rapid acquisitions of increased capabilities to enhance the ability of the Soldier and the squad to fight, win, and survive on the modern battlefield,” Burris said.

By SSG Michael Reinsch, Army News Service

Army, National Intelligence Leaders Prioritize Protection of Warfighting Advances

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

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AUSTIN, Texas — As the Army expands efforts to shape and modernize the future force, it is coordinating with experts across the U.S. government to ensure breakthrough advances in future warfighting equipment and strategies are protected from adversaries.

Army Futures Command leaders recently met with Dr. Stacey Dixon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, at the command’s Austin headquarters to discuss Army-led modernization activities and technological innovations. The visit included a trip to the nearby Army Software Factory, where Soldiers shared with Dr. Dixon their motivations for wanting to contribute directly to the creation of new tech solutions for the Army.

“Deep partnerships across government are essential to maintaining a competitive technological advantage for the U.S., and I enjoyed meeting firsthand the talented Soldiers who are equipping warfighters with modern, tech-enabled solutions to advance our national security,” said Dr. Dixon. Dr. Dixon’s visit also underscored the critical importance of safeguarding development in future tools and concepts — an aim shared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Army.

Through its Tech Protect initiative and rigorous information review process, the Army is actively minimizing the risk of compromising sensitive or proprietary information to ensure the U.S. maintains substantial technological advantages.

“We’re putting in a tremendous amount of effort at AFC to develop state-of-the art systems, equipment and strategies that will provide us with technological overmatch on future battlefields,” said Ed Mornston, Director of Intelligence and Security at Army Futures Command.

“Protecting these advances from compromise by those who seek to do us harm is a central part of our planning,” Mornston said.

The Army estimates that in recent years, 80 percent of compromised information has been obtained through unclassified or improperly secured controlled unclassified information.

With the implementation of Tech Protect, however, the Army, working with the Intelligence Community, has established additional protections to prevent foreign interests from stealing valuable intellectual property and repurposing if for their own military advances.

This enhanced protection posture, which includes reducing unprotected information exchange, ensures that Army modernization activities are able to proceed uninterrupted and ultimately deliver unrivaled operational capabilities to the future force.

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures Command

U.S. Army Futures Command Provides Congressional Testimony on Army Modernization Objectives

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Army Futures Command leadership provided testimony to Congress this week on the importance of advancing Army modernization objectives, particularly given the current threat landscape.

“Innovation is about more than materiel,” said Lt. Gen. James M. Richardson, Acting Commanding General of Army Futures Command, while speaking to the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee on May 10.

“Armies win or lose by a combination of their doctrine, organization and equipment,” Richardson explained, noting that “all three start with AFC.”

“We develop concepts that become doctrine, design future organizations and develop requirements for materiel, all based on assessments of the future operational environment, emerging threats and technologies,” Richardson said.

Richardson joined the Honorable Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology and Col. Christopher Grice, Director of Materiel for the Army G-8, in speaking at the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the Fiscal Year 2023 Army Modernization Program. Richardson, Bush and Lt. Gen. Erik C. Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Army, G-8, are scheduled to present a similar overview of Army modernization activities and FY 2023 budget plans to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces on May 17.

The hearing emphasized the need to continue investing strategically in modernization and the streamlining of acquisition processes, particularly for mission-critical capabilities in the areas of long-range precision fires, air and missile defense, network and future vertical lift.

Members of Congress and Army leaders also stressed the criticality of supporting Army organic industrial base productivity and maintaining optimal readiness levels amid ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Richardson, Bush and Grice additionally put forth written testimony that articulated the Army’s intent to “achieve overmatch against all potential adversaries.”

Per the testimony, the Army’s FY 2023 budget request “both maintains the readiness of the Army and establishes a sustainable path to transform into the Army of 2030. This transformation will require a strategic pivot from two decades of focus on counterterrorism, toward adaptation to meet our top pacing challenge in China and the acute threat of Russian aggression.”

Army Futures Command’s contributions to the document and testimony illustrate the command’s pivotal role in integrating and synchronizing Army modernization activities.

Working in close coordination with other Army modernization stakeholders, Army Futures Command is accelerating signature systems that align with the Army’s six modernization priorities: Long Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Life, Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality.

The command expertly assesses how to leverage new technologies, including those that aid in data collection and dissemination, to further Soldier-centered design and the formation of intelligent information ecosystems.

“AFC is helping pave the way to a data-centric Army, fully integrated into a data-centric Joint Force,” Richardson said.

The foundational concepts, requirements, design and testing work of the command – which includes leading Project Convergence, the Army’s dedicated campaign of learning and experimentation – is essential to the Army’s understanding of and preparation for future battlefields.

“AFC is the engine for Army modernization,” Richardson said.

The command’s efforts are not conducted in a silo, however, and it is only through close collaboration with ASA(ALT), Department of the Army headquarters and other Army and Joint Force stakeholders that the command has been able to further development of the 24 transformational systems due to reach the hands of Soldiers by FY 2023.

“Modernization is a team sport,” Richardson underscored.

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures Command

A video recording of the May 10, 2022 Army Modernization Congressional hearing is available on the Senate Armed Services Committee website.

The full Joint Statement on Army Modernization is available here.

Army Futures Command Incorporates International Partners into Annual Demonstration

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah – Army Futures Command’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team kicked off its annual Experimental Demonstration Gateway Event, or EDGE, on May 2 to assess new tactics, technologies and interconnecting architectures with more than 16 inter-service organizations and seven international partners.

EDGE 2022 includes progressive efforts connecting Joint All-Domain Command and Control to the lower tier of the air domain by extending the reach and lethality of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Ecosystem to accelerate combined kill chains in all-domain operations. This year seven international partners; to include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and United Kingdom; are participating, some with network and weapons systems. This inclusion advances efforts to ensure integration and interoperability among allied nations.

“The EDGE experimentation is a powerful step in our transformation towards a data-centric Army,” said Lt. Gen. James Richardson, Acting Commanding General of Army Futures Command. “The effort continues our campaign of learning by focusing in on our aviation assets ability to network and utilize data as ammunition.”

EDGE22 objectives include:

Interoperability: Improve ability for allies and partners to coherently, effectively and efficiently act together to achieve tactical, operational and strategic objectives. Achieved across multiple dimensions: technical, procedural, human and information.

Network: Advance data-centric solutions and enable the speed, range and convergence to achieve decision dominance and overmatch.

Interactive Drone Swarm: Technology demonstration within Future Unmanned Aircraft System signature effort. Alters battlefield geometry providing tailored capability for threat overmatch through advanced teaming.

Multi-INT Sensors: Pursue tailorable payloads to include electronic sense, decoy and attack. Advance AI enabled aided target recognition to improve threat detect and identification.

Enhanced Sustainment: Increase systems’ reliability, availability and maintainability. Critical in contested and expeditionary logistic environments.

“We’re doing a couple really big things at EDGE22,” said Maj. Gen. Walter “Wally” Rugen, Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team director. “Pulling in our international allies is an important piece, and the interactive drone swarm, testing how that needs to be fought, seeing how that concept develops and what needs to go into our doctrine. The swarm is tailored to generate overmatch, this concept of outpacing the enemy in a battlefield geometry that breaks them.”

Bottom line, he said, is that our teams are working to innovate and to “execute violently to get after innovation.” The goal is to keep pushing the envelope, working these complex problems hard and taking the risk if it’s going to bring us better knowledge.

EDGE22 is part of AFC’s Project Convergence Campaign of Learning and builds on lessons learned from previous experimentations at our nation’s Western Test Ranges, including EDGE21 at Dugway Proving Ground and Project Convergence 21 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

By Lisa Ferguson, AFC Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team

UT System, U.S. Army Futures Command Announce Partnership to Accelerate Innovation in Trauma Care

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

The University of Texas System and the United States Army Futures Command (AFC) have formed an official educational and cooperative research partnership to advance medical science and technology to save lives both on and off the battlefield.

Since last year, leaders from the UT System, AFC, U.S. Army Medical Research Command and U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) have been exploring how to work together to solve some of the most critical issues affecting soldiers injured in combat.

Today, they formally signed two agreements to streamline collaboration between the military and UT institutions: an Educational Partnership Agreement and a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

The agreements will allow a continuous flow of resources, research, and scientific expertise, focusing specifically on medical science and technological innovations.

“I can not emphasize how groundbreaking this will be,” said Lt. Gen. James Richardson, AFC acting commanding general. “This will allow opportunities for furthering research and expand capabilities for improving our work in the critical area of trauma care, which will extend to our future soldiers and also have impacts in our communities.”

The partnership will leverage the scale and expertise of the both the UT System and the Army, UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “The military brings to the table a substantial health research infrastructure, unrivaled experience in battlefield trauma, and the capacity to test innovations in the field,” Milliken said. “UT institutions offer an extensive basic and applied science infrastructure, a world-class system for conducting clinical trials, and some of the world’s most brilliant and innovative minds.”

During a Summit last year, researchers and military health specialists from AFC and the UT System emphasized the need to turn the “Golden Hour” into the “Golden Day,” referring to the timeframe following a battlefield wound when proper medical treatment is crucial to survival. Following the Summit, several UT institutions and USAISR developed collaborating research proposals to address the underlying causes of tissue damage and novel treatment options following trauma.

The UT System and Army Futures Command anticipate that the new partnership will have long-lasting impacts on both soldiers as well as civilians who suffer traumatic injuries that land them in the emergency room. The partnership also builds on numerous existing collaborations between the Army and UT institutions.

The UT System Board of Regents allocated $50 million to UT Austin to establish facilities to develop and test robotic systems and artificial intelligence through the new Robotics Center of Excellence . Researchers at UT Arlington are studying the human dynamics of decision-making, and UT Dallas is creating chemically powered artificial muscles that could power robotic mules to serve as alternative Army vehicles. UT San Antonio and UT El Paso are working with the Army to advance cybersecurity.

In addition, the UT System currently has several research projects with the Department of Defense to create more technologically advanced cybersecurity systems and to support the use of robotics in combat. The collaboration aims to deliver breakthroughs in the science of combat casualty care, such as delivering oxygen to tissue, shock management, wound progression and infection, as well as physical pain or PTSD.

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DEVCOM Teams Explore Low-Cost, Lightweight Sensors for Warfighter Use

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Soldier in the field is often required to carry multiple pieces of gear to handle various situations and every pound matters. With this in mind, Army scientists and engineers are using their diverse skills to cultivate a microsensor development capability at the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center, or DEVCOM CBC.

This proof-of-concept study seeks to provide warfighters with sensors that are light in weight, low in cost, small in size and easy to carry. “We’re always trying to unburden the warfighter. We want to develop sensors that can be deployed to provide personnel with greater situational awareness of their field environment,” said Army Senior Research Scientist for Chemistry Dr. Patricia McDaniel.

According to BioSciences Division Chief Dr. Nicole Rosenzweig, CBC scientists and engineers want to figure out how they can potentially transport these deployable sensors into an area on ground vehicles or unmanned aircraft systems. “Whether it is a ground vehicle or an unmanned aerial vehicle release, the autonomous deployment element of this is a key component of the effort,” Rosenzweig said.

For example, the sensor can be deployed from high altitude into a plume by an aerial drone or mounted on a ground vehicle to provide situational awareness of a given area. During this operation, the microsensor can detect possible hazardous contamination and alert the warfighter so they can make decisions on how to proceed.

Staying aware of warfighter needs makes the miniaturization of sensors a natural transition for the scientists at DEVCOM CBC. Currently, this effort is jointly funded between the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the CBC. The idea to focus on microsensors surfaced during discussions among CBC researchers and leaders about new innovations. “We started looking at our research strengths, where technology is heading and determined where we can make the greatest contribution to the Army’s modernization process and advanced manufacturing efforts,” said McDaniel.

Scientists are working to miniaturize sensors so that they can communicate with Soldiers and equipment through a universal interface, which will allow users to select and customize capabilities for each unique mission. Researchers envision stealth microsensors for deployment, while being cost-effective enough to discard after use. This paves the way for a “place-and-forget” microsensor that can be used as a one-off after completing its task.

The development of microsensors is a CBC-wide collaborative campaign with the objective to integrate science, technology, modeling, engineering and novel manufacturing processes. According to McDaniel, the CBC is pushing the boundaries of microsensors using additive manufacturing. “We’re trying to pull all of these research elements together to achieve the next generation of chemical or biological detection,” she said.

The CBC is also collaborating with small businesses and universities to move the development of microsensors forward. Recently, CBC researchers worked with the University of Alabama and Forensense Solutions, LLC, and have filed a patent application for their microsensor prototype called the Portable Impedance Based Chemical Sensor. The prototyping objective is to understand current and past efforts across DoD Science and Technology (S&T) programs that have explored sensing. This sensor is designed to detect toxic industrial chemicals, chemical warfare agents and emerging chemical threats.

The CBC is also working to leverage Soldier touchpoint opportunities to continue the development of these prototypes. The goal is to coordinate multiple microsensor demonstrations. This would allow Soldiers to provide input on how microsensors make their jobs easier in the field and provide feedback on future prototypes.

The next steps in developing the microsensor capability at the CBC involves finding additional partners who can help to propel this effort into the future by providing miniaturized chemical detection, novel engineering solutions and low-cost manufacturing methodologies. CBC researchers are integrating technologies developed across the various government laboratories to maximize microsensor capabilities.

The overall vision for the microsensor program is not only to bring new technologies to the CBC but also to advance existing technologies. According to McDaniel, the goal is to pull all of these elements together along with partners’ efforts in order to establish the CBC as the premier laboratory for innovation. “Microsensors is not a singular effort. It’s a spiral effort. The whole idea is to set up the infrastructure so that as we see technologies emerging, we can integrate them into the chemical biological detection world,” she said. “We have the ability to assess, understand and implement them into something truly innovative.”

By Jerilyn Coleman