Archive for the ‘Army’ Category

Army Chief of Staff GEN McConville Models “Ike” Jacket

Friday, April 30th, 2021

General McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, was spotted at Massachusetts General Hospital sporting the optional “Ike” Jacket for the Army Green Uniform.

In recognition of their dedication to the health care of military veterans and the families of fallen heroes, leaders from Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, received two of the nation’s most prestigious honors. The Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service–the second-highest award presented by the Secretary of Defense–was presented to Tom Werner, Chairman of the Boston Red Sox and the Red Sox Foundation. The Public Service Commendation Medal–the fourth-highest public service decoration in the U.S. Army–was awarded to Peter L. Slavin, MD, President, Massachusetts General Hospital, Ross Zafonte, DO, chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mass General, and Michael Allard, chief operating officer for Home Base. Each recipient received their award, presented by Army Chief of Staff General Jim McConville, during a ceremony yesterday at the Pentagon. Congratulations to all!

Pictured here is McConville; Patrick Smith; Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director, Home Base; Zafonte; Allard; Jennifer Ashton; Werner; Staff Sergeant Carlton Duncan; Lieutenant General R. Scott Dingle, Surgeon General of the Army.

Photo by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Platoon Leader Designs App to Help Soldiers Earn Their EIB

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

U.S. Army service members now have a new training aid to help them earn the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge, a mobile app.

1st Lt. Egor Krasnonosenkikh, an infantry officer assigned to 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division on Joint Base Lewis-McChord used self-taught programming skills to design an app, “EIB Pro,” to help train his Soldiers.

Just as the Combat Infantryman Badge was intended to be an award for U.S. service members whose primary mission was to close with and destroy the enemy, the Expert Infantryman Badge was instituted to build and maintain esprit de corps within U.S. infantry units. In order for any infantryman to earn the coveted badge, they must demonstrate expertise in their profession’s tasks and drills.

Since its creation, it has been downloaded over 11,000 times and in 65 different countries.

Videos, written instruction, a step-by-step guide, tasks, conditions and standards for EIB tasks are all provided within the app. There’s even a progress tracker that measures your task confidence, repetitions per lane and a “station deep dive” that tracks progress per event.

“So, I think the catalyst was definitely COVID. I was at home and on my computer anyway, so I figured I’d do something that’s useful to the army. I got my EIB the year before I made my app, and I really disliked that little book that we got, which always got destroyed easily,” he said.

At the time, he was a platoon leader and really wanted to see Soldiers in his unit get their EIB, he said. Some Soldiers even had to practice while at home, an environment that he felt would be hard to train in just using a small book.

Soldiers found the app to be a useful training tool, he said.

His battalion ended up having the highest success rate that year, 28.5%, almost double the Brigade average.

“There were Soldiers that told me without my app, they don’t think they would have gotten it. I’ve even heard that from captains and majors,” said Krasnonosenkikh.

He learned how to program on his own using YouTube videos and online resources. Growing up, he had a big interest in video games and what it took to make them, he said.

He spent his early years in Russia, before his uncle invited his mother and himself to move to the United States where he pursued an education and eventually a commission in the U.S. Army.

Soon, he’ll be developing apps, officially, for the military as a member of U.S. Army Futures Command.

He’s also currently working on an education app geared towards squad leaders and team leaders to make Army doctrine more accessible.

The app is free to download, available on the Android and iPhone store and receives updates by 1st Lt. Krasnonosenkikh himself.

By Jerod Hathaway

Live Fire with the US Army’s New Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Soldiers assigned to 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, conduct a platoon live fire using the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars at Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 19, 2021. The ENVG-B arms U.S. Army soldiers with the ability to target, engage, and neutralize threats; enhancing mission success and operator safety.

Video by 1LT Egor Krasnonosenkikh

28 Topics Open for US Army Applied Small Business Innovation Research

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

The Army Applied Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program released 28 contract opportunities for U.S.-based small businesses to tackle challenges in some of the Army’s most critical modernization priorities. Phase I awards are nearly $260,000 and six months in duration, and Phase II are up to $1.7 million and 18 months in duration.

“Partnering with our small businesses is critical in helping us to develop innovative technology to support the Army and our Soldiers,” says Dr. Matt Willis, Director, Army Applied SBIR and Prize Competitions in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA (R&T)). “These crucial partnerships not only foster, strengthen and encourage the roles of small businesses, but also help us modernize our world-class Army and transition life-saving technology into the hands of our Soldiers.”

Phase I releases comprise 27 of the 28 Army Applied SBIR topics:

Advanced Manufacturing
– Impact Resistant Baseplate
– Digital High-Energy Neutron Radiography (NR) Detection Panel
– Development of Novel Miniature Reserve Batteries on the Chip
– Large Format Color Low Light Level (LLL) Focal Plane Arrays (FPAs)
– Full Color, Low Power, High Brightness Micro-Display Capabilities
– Picatinny Smart Rail (PSR) Enabler Integration
– Environmental Conditioning of Man-Portable Weapons Systems

– Behavioristic Electromagnetic Spectrum Assessment General Learning Engine (BEAGLE)
– Advanced GPS-Based Minefield Detection/Clearance System
– Stationary Target Indicator Waveforms for Theoretical Active Electronically Scanned Array Antenna
– Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Full Motion Video (FMV) Enhancement
– Pandemic Entry & Automated Control Environment (PEACE)
– Recognition Biometric Camera System
– Biometric Data Cleansing
– Correlation of Detected Objects from Multiple Sensor Platforms
– Multi-Spectrum Combat Identification Target Silhouette (MCITS)
– Immersive Gaming of C5ISR Training and Testing
– CTA Track/Discrim Improvements for Advanced Threats
– Q-53 Long Range Artillery Guidance
– TPQ-53 Managed Comms/Radar Functionality
– Threat/Target Sensor Stimulation Technology


– Dynamic Hartmann Turbulence Sensor Processing
– Risk Assessment Modeling Tool (RAMoT)

– Metamaterial Based Antenna
– Wide Bandgap Bi-Directional Converter
– Enhanced Impact Protection HGU-56P Aviator Helmet
– Advanced Thermal Management Systems

This round includes one Direct to Phase II release:

– Dismounted Device-to-Device (D2D) Communication Platform

The submission period for proposals closes May 18 at noon EST (sic). Full proposal packages must be submitted through the DSIP Portal.

Information in this post was gathered from a story written by Michael Howard

Army, ASU Publish Human-Autonomy Communication Tips

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army and Arizona State University researchers identified a set of approaches to help scientists assess how well autonomous systems and humans communicate.

These approaches build on transformational scientific research efforts led by the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance, which evolved the state of robots from tools to teammates and laid the foundation for much of the service’s existing research into how humans and robots can work together effectively.

As ideas for autonomous systems evolve, and the possibilities of ever-more diverse human-autonomy teams has become a reality; however, no clear guidelines exist to explain the best ways to assess how well humans and intelligent systems communicate, Army researchers said.

“The future Army is going to have complex teams in terms of how they will involve autonomy in different ways,” said Dr. Anthony Baker, postdoctoral scientist at the U.S. Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “There is a clear need to be able to measure communication in those types of teams because communication is what defines teamwork. It reflects how the team thinks, plans, makes decisions and succeeds or fails.

If you can’t measure how the team is doing, you can’t do anything to improve their performance, their decision-making, all of those things that make it more likely for the Army to maintain a decisive overmatch on the battlefield and for the warfighter to accomplish the mission, he said.

In the recently published Human-Intelligent Systems Integration journal paper Approaches for Assessing Communication in Human-Autonomy Teams, researchers listed 11 critical approaches for assessing communication in human-autonomy teams. Baker said their focus is to change Soldier involvement with those systems.

The approach considers communication structure:

· Who is saying what to whom and when

· Dynamics, or how interaction patterns evolve over time

· Emotion, which looks at how information is communicated through facial expressions and vocal features like tone and pitch

· Content, which draws on different aspects of words and phrases themselves

“If we want Soldiers and intelligent systems to work well together, we have to have the right measurement tools to analyze and study their communication because communication is so critical to how well they can perform,” Baker said.

As lead author on the paper, Baker said it won’t be enough to study these things after the teams are fielded.

“We need the measurement tools while those teams and technologies are being developed by the Army,” he said.

Because multi-domain operations are fundamentally dependent on improving the efficiency and optimization of communications within and between domains, the goal of this cross-cutting work is for these systems to be able to work with teams more naturally, he said.

According to Baker, this work may also provide a critical roadmap for analyzing communication in complex human-autonomy team structures such as those forecasted for Next Generation Combat Vehicle operations.

“There may be a time when a smart, load-carrying mule robot should carry a squad’s extra gear completely independently and without Soldier involvement, but there is also a push in some areas to make it so that if systems do need to involve Soldiers, they can do so in a way that’s more natural for the Soldiers, like working with a human teammate,” Baker said.

Consider how a Soldier telling a robotic system, “I need you to take that gear up the hill and wait an hour before going to the next zone,” is much easier than inputting a series of buttons and switches on a remote control.

“We want intelligence assessments, command and control decisions and other important things like that to be possible with less Soldier involvement, but we still want Soldier engagement for some things, and we want it to be easier,” Baker said. “Hence why the RCTA had a large focus on making Soldier-robot interactions more efficient.”

The Robotics CTA was a decade-long research initiative began in 2009 that coalesced a community of researchers from the Army, academia and industry to identify scientific gaps and move the state of the art in ground combat robotics. Strategic investments in Army-led foundational research resulted in advanced science in four critical areas of ground combat robotics that effect the way U.S. warfighters see, think, move and team.

Baker said it laid the groundwork for a lot of how the Army thinks about human-robot interaction and drove the shift in how government and industry look at robots as teammates, rather than just tools.

The laboratory’s Human-Autonomy Teaming essential research program, Human-Autonomy Teaming essential research program, or HAT ERP, continues down paths started in the RCTA, which laid broad building blocks for how to describe, model, design and implement new ways of partnering humans and robots, which are intelligent systems with physical forms.

“RCTA was not interested in explaining or providing ways to study communication between human teammates, instead being aimed at how humans and robots communicate,” Baker said. “Our work looks at it from the perspective that we will need ways to study the communication of any type of team–whether or not those teams currently involve any number of robots or autonomy. We want to be agnostic to the overall makeup of the team, so we provide communication assessments suitable for many different scenarios.”

These communication assessment approaches also apply to Soldier-only teams as well.

“Imagine a future human-autonomy team that has to re-task an autonomous vehicle to go join another platoon, and now the team is just humans only,” he said. “Our work seeks to provide the literature with ways to analyze communication in those teams, no matter what they look like or what they’re supposed to do, so that we can draw conclusions about how well they are working together and accomplishing their goals.”

Future research will seek to validate some of the approaches identified in the paper using datasets collected from Next Generation Combat Vehicle lab studies and field experiments, Baker said.

DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory

AeroVironment Receives U.S. Army Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems Contract Valued At Up To $41 Million for Switchblade 300 Tactical Missile Systems Contractor Logistics Support

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

• Award for contractor logistics support approved through Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement, reflecting high priority requirement and strong user demand from the frontline

• Funded value for contractor logistics support is $13,010,560 with a total potential contract value of $40,852,467

Switchblade 300 delivers unmatched force protection and precision strike capabilities to frontline forces. (Photo: AeroVironment, Inc.)

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., April 22, 2021 –AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced it received a $13,010,560 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract order on March 24, 2021 from the U.S. Army for Switchblade® 300 tactical missile systems contractor logistics support. The contract has a total potential value of $40,852,467, for which funding was authorized via a DoD-approved Joint Urgent Operational Need Statement. Logistics support services are scheduled to be delivered through March 2024.

“AeroVironment provides customers with logistics operation services, such as operator training, flight support and maintenance, to ensure the unmanned aircraft systems and tactical missile systems are operationally ready for deployment at any time,” said Brett Hush, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for tactical missile systems.

AeroVironment’s combat proven Switchblade 300 is back-packable and rapidly deployable from ground platforms, including a multipack launcher, providing warfighters with rapid-response force protection and precision strike capabilities up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) from its launch location. Its high precision, combined with specialized effects and patented “wave-off” feature, results in Switchblade’s ability to minimize or even eliminate collateral damage.

New Process Breaks Down Biodegradable Plastics Faster

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Invention Could Solve Waste Management Challenges on the Battlefield

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — With Army funding, scientists invented a way to make compostable plastics break down within a few weeks with just heat and water. This advance will potentially solve waste management challenges at forward operating bases and offer additional technological advances for American Soldiers.

The new process, developed by researchers at University of California, Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes in the plastic as it’s made.

When exposed to heat and water, an enzyme shrugs off its polymer shroud and starts chomping the plastic polymer into its building blocks — in the case of biodegradable plastics, which are made primarily of the polyester known as polylactic acid, or PLA, it reduces it to lactic acid that can feed the soil microbes in compost. The polymer wrapping also degrades.

The process, published in Nature, eliminates microplastics, a byproduct of many chemical degradation processes and a pollutant in its own right. Up to 98% of the plastic made using this technique degrades into small molecules.

“These results provide a foundation for the rational design of polymeric materials that could degrade over relatively short timescales, which could provide significant advantages for Army logistics related to waste management,” said Dr. Stephanie McElhinny, program manager, Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “More broadly, these results provide insight into strategies for the incorporation of active biomolecules into solid-state materials, which could have implications for a variety of future Army capabilities including sensing, decontamination, and self-healing materials.”

Plastics are designed not to break down during normal use, but that also means they don’t break down after they’re discarded. Compostable plastics can take years to break down, often lasting as long as traditional plastics.

The research teams embedded nanoscale polymer-eating enzymes directly in a plastic or other material in a way that sequesters and protected them until the right conditions to unleash them. In 2018, they showed how this works in practice. The team embedded in a fiber mat an enzyme that degrades toxic organophosphate chemicals, like those in insecticides and chemical warfare agents. When the mat was immersed in the chemical, the embedded enzyme broke down the organophosphate.

The researchers said protecting the enzyme from falling apart, which proteins typically do outside of their normal environment, such as a living cell, resulted in the key innovation.

For the Nature paper, the researchers showcased a similar technique by enshrouding the enzyme in molecules they designed called random heteropolymers or RHPs, and embedding billions of these nanoparticles throughout plastic resin beads that are the starting point for all plastic manufacturing. The process is similar to embedding pigments in plastic to color them.

“This work, combined with the 2018 discovery, reveals these RHPs as highly effective enzyme stabilizers, enabling the retention of enzyme structure and activity in non-biological environments,” said Dr. Dawanne Poree, program manager, ARO. “This research really opens the door to a new class of biotic-abiotic hybrid materials with functions only currently found in living systems.”

The results showed that the RHP-shrouded enzymes did not change the character of the plastic, which could be melted and extruded into fibers like normal polyester plastic at temperatures around 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit).

To trigger degradation, it was necessary only to add water and a little heat. At room temperature, 80% of the modified PLA fibers degraded entirely within about one week. Degradation was faster at higher temperatures. Under industrial composting conditions, the modified PLA degraded within six days at 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another polyester plastic, PCL (polycaprolactone), degraded in two days under industrial composting conditions at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). For PLA, the team embedded an enzyme called proteinase K that chews PLA up into molecules of lactic acid; for PCL, they used lipase. Both are inexpensive and readily available enzymes.

“If you have the enzyme only on the surface of the plastic, it would just etch down very slowly,” said Ting Xu, UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry. “You want it distributed nanoscopically everywhere so that, essentially, each of them just needs to eat away their polymer neighbors, and then the whole material disintegrates.”

Xu suspects that higher temperatures make the enshrouded enzyme move around more, allowing it to more quickly find the end of a polymer chain and chew it up and then move on to the next chain. The RHP-wrapped enzymes also tend to bind near the ends of polymer chains, keeping the enzymes near their targets.

The modified polyesters do not degrade at lower temperatures or during brief periods of dampness. For instance, a polyester shirt made with this process would withstand sweat and washing at moderate temperatures.

Soaking the biodegradable plastic in water for three months at room temperature did not cause it to degrade, but soaking for that time period in lukewarm water did.

Xu is developing RHP-wrapped enzymes that can degrade other types of polyester plastic, but she also is modifying the RHPs so that the degradation can be programmed to stop at a specified point and not completely destroy the material. This might be useful if the plastic were to be re-melted and turned into new plastic.

“Imagine, using biodegradable glue to assemble computer circuits or even entire phones or electronics, then, when you’re done with them, dissolving the glue so that the devices fall apart and all the pieces can be reused,” Xu said.

This technology could be very useful for generating new materials in forward operating environments, Poree said.

“Think of having a damaged equipment or vehicle parts that can be degraded and then re-made in the field, or even repurposed for a totally different use,” Poree said. “It also has potential impacts for expeditionary manufacturing.”

In addition to the Army, the U.S. Department of Energy with assistance from the UC Berkeley’s Bakar Fellowship program also funded the research.

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

TacJobs – MOS 15C MQ-1 UAS Operator at 160th SOAR

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

The US Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment fields a complement of MQ-1 Unmanned Aerial Systems. This video talks about service in the Night Stalkers in MOS 15C.

Assignments are available right out of AIT as well as for Soldier serving in other in units in a variety of MOSs.