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Archive for the ‘Digitization’ Category

Next-Generation Headset Preps Soldiers for Future Battlefield

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

FORT PICKETT, Va. – The third Capability Set of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) was tested at Fort Pickett by 82nd Airborne Soldiers and 25th Marines during October 2020.

The project uses Soldier Centered Design (SCD) to evaluate the IVAS military fighting goggle through operational evaluations. Soldier involvement and engagement at every stage of prototype development has allowed the fast-paced rapid prototype effort to ensure that the final product will positively increase the situational awareness, lethality, mobility, and performance of the close combat force.

“When I look through the IVAS I see how we’re going to fight on the battlefield of the future,” said Staff Sgt. Kester, Weapons Squad Leader.

The Army is developing IVAS as a single platform that allows the Warfighter to Fight, Rehearse, and Train. It integrates next generation 24/7 situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to deliver a single platform that improves Soldier sensing, decision making, target acquisition, and target engagement. The visibility that it gives to higher command and control is unparalleled.

“With IVAS you now have the ability to paint a picture for higher ups, almost instantaneously,” said Sgt. Black, Combat Medic. “So now you have a Colonel who’s watching the battlefield like never before. That’s phenomenal, and that has the potential to increase our lethality in a way that we’ve never seen.”

IVAS also provides increased situational awareness for the leadership on the ground.

“In the field, a big part of my job is command and control,” said 1st Lt. Christopher, Platoon Leader. “I am basically moving my squads like pieces on a chessboard and maneuvering them into position and making sure that they’re in the right place at the right time. For me not only can I see where they are with IVAS, but I can actually go into the system and put a point here and say ‘Hey, you all need to go here’ or ‘Hey there are enemies over here watch out!’ I can also send messages non-verbally, so it is very, very critical for me for the command and control aspect.”

The first IVAS militarized form factor prototype was put through tactical exercise lanes, advance marksmanship, land navigation and squad reconnaissance, movement to contact with hasty attack, and enter and clear a trench to validate the military utility that the technology brings to the squad both day and night. The Soldiers and Marines spent a week learning the new equipment before using it in the various operational tests.

“It was extremely easy to pick up,” said Christopher. “It’s very simple in its controls, the menus and such are very easy to navigate, and they’re categorized in a way that if I want to do this function, easy over there, bring up the map, one button press away.”

Christopher also noted that the Microsoft data collectors had been receptive to their feedback and had already made progress and developments on the input given throughout the touchpoint event. Cpl. Sweckard, Team Leader, 25th Marines also expressed similar sentiments.

“Anytime we conduct any type of training with the IVAS, we immediately make contact with the [data collectors] from Microsoft and provide them with feedback, things that we’ve identified that could be an issue, things that we liked, and how we fixed the issue if we were faced with one,” he said. “That way they can put together the common things that are happening with the device and identify a resolution.”

Because of the similarities in operational responsibilities and as members of the collective close combat force, Marines were present to test the current IVAS capability set specifically during live fire execution.

“What it does for us mainly is combines a lot of things that we currently utilize, such as global positioning devices, or GPS’s, communication devices, as well as land navigation tools and mission planning tools,” said Sweckard. “Those are things that are commonly individual technologies that are now combined into this one system of IVAS.”

The project was initiated in response to an erosion in close combat capability relative to pacing threats identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. These capabilities will provide the increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries in any domain.

“I think if it’s in the right hands it can be an effective tool, like an aid bag. An aid bag without a medic is nothing, but an infantry guy with IVAS is something much more,” said Black.

Though the Army is specifically developing this high priority modernization effort, the Marine Corps may also leverage the technology for their close combat operations.

“It will definitely be a force multiplier on the battlefield,” said Sweckard. “As a team leader I have three Marines that are under my charge and my basic mission is to employ those Marines in combat, make those three Marines look like 30. If I can do that, that’s going to make the Marine Corps more lethal. With the IVAS I can better achieve that mission, without a doubt.”

The integrated system is expected to be fielded to Soldiers next year.

“When Lieutenant Colonel Winn told us we want to field it next year I thought that was crazy. Then I looked and thought through it and I could see it, I can see the possibilities,” said Kester. “Some of my combat experiences made me pause for thought to look at it like Russia and China, they’ve been pushing technology like this for the last decade. And what have we been doing? Not that.”

Kester added that though he did not know about IVAS before coming to the third Soldier Touchpoint, as soon as he did, he was onboard with Team IVAS.

“I would say the only thing that’s going to hurt this program is people not being imaginative enough or trying to push the limits of what they think is possible, or what Soldiers want. I am really excited to see where this will go,” said Kester.

Machine Learning Algorithm Could Provide Soldiers Feedback

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new machine learning algorithm, developed with Army funding, can isolate patterns in brain signals that relate to a specific behavior and then decode it, potentially providing Soldiers with behavioral-based feedback.

“The impact of this work is of great importance to Army and DOD in general, as it pursues a framework for decoding behaviors from brain signals that generate them,” said Dr. Hamid Krim, program manager, Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Develop Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “As an example future application, the algorithms could provide Soldiers with needed feedback to take corrective action as a result of fatigue or stress.”

Brain signals contain dynamic neural patterns that reflect a combination of activities simultaneously. For example, the brain can type a message on a keyboard and acknowledge if a person is thirsty at that same time. A standing challenge has been isolating those patterns in brain signals that relate to a specific behavior, such as finger movements.

Doing so, is the first step in developing brain-machine interfaces that help restore lost function for people with neurological and mental disorders, which requires the translation of brain signals into a specific behavior, called decoding.

As part of a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant awarded by ARO and led by Maryam Shanechi, assistant professor at the University Of Southern California Viterbi School Of Engineering, researchers have developed a new machine learning algorithm to address the brain modeling and decoding challenge. The research is published in Nature Neuroscience.

“Our algorithm can, for the first time, dissociate the dynamic patterns in brain signals that relate to specific behaviors and is much better at decoding these behaviors,” said Shanechi, the lead senior author of the study.

The researchers tested the algorithm on standard brain datasets during the performance of various arm and eye movements. They showed that their algorithm discovered neural patterns in brain signals that directed these movements but were missed with standard algorithms.

They also showed that the decoding of these movements from brain signals – predicting what the movement kinematics are by just looking at brain signals that generate the movement – was much better with their algorithm.

“The algorithm has significant implications for basic science discoveries,” Krim said. “The algorithm can discover shared dynamic patterns between any signals beyond brain signals, which is widely applicable for the military and many other medical and commercial applications.”

Shanechi said the reason for the new algorithm’s success was its ability to consider both brain signals and behavioral signals such as movement kinematics together, and then find the dynamic patterns that were common to these signals.

This decoding also depends on our ability to isolate neural patterns related to the specific behavior. These neural patterns can be masked by patterns related to other activities and can be missed by standard algorithms.

In the future, the new algorithm could also enhance future brain-machine interfaces by decoding behaviors better. For example, the algorithm could help allow paralyzed patients to directly control prosthetics by thinking about the movement.

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

Wearin’ Connected Vest: New Ready-to-Use Wearable Technology for Connected Soldiers

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Fischer Connectors Group, the leader in rugged connectivity solutions for harsh environments, is proud to present its spin-off Wearin’™, the provider of new wearable connectivity solutions.

Wearin’s solutions integrate wearable technology into ergonomically designed gear, helping reduce weight, simplify use and enhance situational awareness.

Easy-to-use, rugged & lightweight, Wearin’ connectivity solutions are suited for the Generic Soldier Architecture (GSA), Soldier Modernization programs and C5ISTAR applications.

At the recent AUSA NOW, Wearin’ unveiled a connected vest designed to meet SWaP (Size, Weight & Power requirements) and enhance soldier mobility, performance and safety.

The Wearin’ connected vest offers a distributed data (USB 2.0) and power bus, eliminating external cables and multiple batteries. Connector receptacles sewn in strategic locations turn the soldier’s vest into a flexible hub delivering power and data.

Communications gear, sensors, cameras, night vision systems, smartphones, tactical computers, GPS devices and other essentials can be fastened with matching plugs built directly into the device.

The new ready-to-use connected vest is Wearin’s Starter Kit, now commercially available. It includes:

• 1x tactical plate & load carrier (vest)

• 1x tactical wearable hub USB 2+ / plug & play with standard wiring integrated within the vest without break-out cables

• 6x Fischer LP360™ cabled receptacles integrated into the vest, i.e. sewn thanks to the new Fischer LP360™ Quick Detach System* including an adapter, a sewing junction, and a retaining ring

• 1x cable with a Fischer LP360™ plug and Fischer UltiMate™ 80* plug (6-pin NATO STANAG 4695 compatible)

• 1x cable with a Fischer LP360™ plug and a USB type A

• 1x Fischer LP360™ LED

• 1x Fischer LP360™ USB 2.0 adapter

Optional applications include the Fischer LP360™ Rugged Flash Drive and the Fischer LP360™ BodyCam*.

* Fischer Connectors’ NEW products commercially available as of September 2020

Wearin’ for Defense & Security. As part of the Fischer Connectors Group, Wearin’ combines the agility of a start-up with the expertise of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rugged connectivity solutions for harsh environments. With a global network of specialized partners in wearable technology, data management, garment manufacturing and other fields, Wearin’ breaks the silos of product development to help create comprehensive, rugged and reliable military-grade wearable ecosystems. www.wearin.tech.

Army to Host Tactical Assault Kit Virtual Workshop for Industry, Federal Agencies

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 23, 2020) — The U.S. Army is hosting a virtual workshop to expedite the development and integration of situational awareness tools Sept. 29 – Oct. 2.

The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. It is compatible with Android, Apple iOS and Windows.

The Tactical Assault Kit virtual offsite will offer stakeholders from across the Department of Defense (DoD), federal agencies and industry an opportunity to exchange information and identify critical needs. The event will offer tracks for software development, programmatic updates and training on TAK platforms.

“The intent of these sessions is to learn from issues that may have arisen in the past year, produce innovative capabilities and reduce duplicative efforts,” said Josh Sterling, director of the TAK Product Center at the The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – a component of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command.

“Any time we can get more feedback and lessons learned, it’s a data point we can use to improve the platform. I think this is a great way to generate cross-team collaboration that will spur both the development cycle and integration as we continue to push and facilitate a more universal type TAK operation.”

As the central software development hub for all TAK efforts, including 15 DoD programs of record, the C5ISR Center’s TAK Product Center provides software updates and testing for an enhanced user experience.

To foster innovation, the TAK Product Center approved the public release of a non-military variant for federal and government agencies – known as the Android Team Awareness Kit-Civilian (ATAK-CIV) application – on Google Play and the open-source Standard ATAK Software Development Kit on TAKmaps.com.

“TAK is an extensible platform, meaning that we give you a baseline and based on your mission requirements you can build on that baseline to bridge capability gaps,” said Mark Roberts, deputy director for the TAK Product Center.

“Anyone who has a job requirement to display point location information – the military, DoD and federal agencies, state and local authorities, firefighters and emergency responders – will benefit from these sessions. This is a great opportunity to give them a peek at what’s being done around the TAK community,” he said.

Registration for the offsite is available at tak.gov/offsite until Sept. 28.

By CCDC C5ISR Center Public Affairs

USAF and Microsoft Partner to Empower Airmen with Modern IT

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

The U.S. Air Force is breaking the glass as a leader in harnessing the power of cloud, rapidly rolling out modern services to enable airmen to advance the mission through more effective collaboration. As part of their digital transformation journey to achieve global access, persistence, and awareness for the 21st century, the U.S. Air Force is deploying targeted workloads that allow airmen to focus on their missions rather than spending time managing IT infrastructure.

Mission focus and efficiency

A key part of their digital transformation strategy is leveraging the technology industry’s capabilities for cloud infrastructure, allowing the U.S. Air Force to re-tool and refocus their resources. As part of our collaboration with the U.S. Air Force, we’re deeply aligned on a joint mission to drive IT enhancements that enable airmen to be more efficient and effective. Building out the capabilities for this targeted mission focus started with planning for how the organization will manage their data in the future, deploying core functions such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive and other capabilities delivered through the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity applications.

Improved total cost of ownership

The rapid deployment of cloud tools at this scale is made possible by the U.S. Air Force’s leadership in building the multi-cloud factory Cloud One, a migration center of excellence designed as a foundation for future innovation. Leapfrogging more traditional cloud migration strategies with a Platform as a service (PaaS)-first approach and secure systems boundary, Cloud One enables the U.S. Air Force to rapidly transform legacy systems into modern apps and exploit the agility, scale and global presence afforded by the cloud.

William Marion, U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer, says that Cloud One is the U.S. Air Force’s “path to the cloud, but further it is fundamental to the Digital Air Force and the future of Multi-Domain Operations. It enables our teams to achieve unprecedented cost efficiencies and productivity through automation, agile software development at scale, and a streamlined process for moving applications to production.”

Cloud One has recalibrated what internal teams expect from a cloud migration, providing all the foundational cloud capabilities including networking, monitoring, access control and identity. In addition, apps deployed to Azure Government inherit the platform’s security controls by design, further reducing operational costs and freeing up resources to focus on the mission.

Focus on security and compliance

The U.S. Air Force understands the importance of a dynamic, foundational risk management framework that can react quickly to cyber-attacks and changes in the threat landscape. With Microsoft 365 Government and Azure Government, they can obtain the scale and performance of modern cloud tools while maintaining compliance with the strict compliance requirements of the Department of Defense (DoD), including DoD Impact Level 5.

Next-generation collaboration

One of the primary goals of the U.S. Air Force is to empower airmen to collaborate and execute their missions with modern technology best practices. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division (AFLCMC/HNI) at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts has planned, tested and started deployment of Microsoft Teams to improve project management and teamwork. With geographically separated organizations, Teams will streamline collaboration and communication between airmen across the globe.

The massive scale of this U.S. Air Force organization – wide rollout requires massive change management – so we’ve developed a joint plan with focused training, deployment and service adoption to drive mission-focused use cases. The plan includes learning events with modern modalities, creating consumable resources to enable airmen to learn more about how Teams can work for their unit. This includes product immersion events, ask-me-anything events, and video content so airmen can learn efficiently from wherever they are in the world.

These advances in productivity, cloud acceleration, and collaboration are a result of ongoing teamwork across the 16th Air Force, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and the Defense Information Systems Agency. As thought leaders and innovators, these organization have planned, built and deployed modern IT experiences at massive scale using Microsoft 365 Government and Azure Government, enabling airmen to continue to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.

By Leigh Madden – Microsoft General Manager, National Security

Photo – US Air Force

Tobyhanna Army Depot Expands NETT Warrior Support, Improves Soldier Experience

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA —

Tobyhanna Army Depot now fabricates a new type of cable that furthers its support of a critical Soldier communication system.

The depot recently stood up capability for production of flat cables for the Nett Warrior program. Nett Warrior is a smartphone-based system that provides situational awareness to dismounted Soldiers during combat operations. The program arrived at the depot in 2012 and, since then, engineers have designed more than 70 cables to support the system. Because the system is worn by Soldiers in the battlefield, ergonomics is key.

“The flat design of this cable will make the system more comfortable for Soldiers when they use Nett Warrior,” said Stanley Czock, lead engineer for the program. “The new cables also eliminate the likelihood of snagging in the field by holding more tightly to the vest. Both of these improvements directly benefit Soldiers.”

Production of the flat cables is aided by two new machines, a computer numerical control (CNC) sewing machine and a laser cutting machine. The machines allow for tighter stitching and the fabrication of scalloped tabs, which slide into the MOLLE system on the system’s Modular Scalable Vest and allow for a 90 degree bend in the cable without performance problems – another significant improvement for the end user. The equipment also allows for fabrication of conformal battery pouches and antenna mast holders, items used extensively by Soldiers when wearing Nett Warrior.

Acquisition of the new equipment is part of a larger effort to expand capability in the depot’s Systems Integration and Support directorate. The effort stems from Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic initiative, Toby 2028.

“Modernizing the shops with newer technology allows us to explore previously unreachable opportunities for customer and product support with the added benefit of remaining competitive.  Anywhere there is an opportunity to improve our capabilities, we have a Toby 2028 team looking into it and how it will shape our future,” said Michael Vivlemore, Lead for the Toby 2028 line of effort focused on technology impacts.

Depot personnel also worked closely with engineers from the U.S Army Sustainment Command’s Packaging, Storage and Containerization Center to perform extensive testing on the new cable prior to launch. They say this proactive approach is crucial to ensuring project success.

“Upfront testing allows us to ensure our product will meet warfighter requirements. It also allows us to address any potential defects before the product reaches the battlefield,” Czock said. “All in all, we’re thrilled to support a project that helps make life easier for the warfighter.”

Personnel from the Production Management directorate’s Sustainment Planning Division (SPD) say this new capability may also lead to additional workload for the depot.

“The addition of the CNC and laser-cutting machine greatly enhance the depot’s ability to adapt and support evolving Soldier requirements. We have seen interest from customers for new workload as a direct result of this new capability,” said Tracy Kraftchisin, a Logistics Management Specialist (LMS) in SPD. Fellow LMS Michelle Reese agreed.

“Right now, we are working on a Public Private Partnership (P3) with Microsoft in support of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). Under this P3, we have the potential to fabricate different types of cables for IVAS, a workload that falls under the Army Futures Command and represents an exciting opportunity for Team Tobyhanna.”

Depot personnel say the Nett Warrior program is planned through 2025 and will result in more than 200,000 cables for service members.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.

Story by Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Photos by Thomas Robbins

SOFWERX – Automated Analytics Virtual Tech Sprint

Friday, August 28th, 2020

SOFWERX in conjunction with the USSOCOM Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF) will host an Automated Analytics Virtual Tech Sprint 19 October-13 November 2020.

The event aims to identify technologies that are relevant to assist with automated analytics during Phase 0 Irregular Warfare (IW) operations. Phase 0 shapes the environment both globally and in theater. This phase involves those joint, interagency and multinational activities conducted in an ongoing, routine basis to assure or solidify friendly relationships and alliances and/or deter potential adversaries. Employment of cyber, irregular capability, space capability, and information operations are activities that are initiated in Phase 0 and continue up through all phases of conflict. This phase relies heavily on collecting and assessing information at the edge.

Generally, although the needed information is collected foreward, the actual integrating, analyzing, and interpreting the data to produce usable information is frequently the job of analysts who sit far from the tactical edge.

To speed things up, USSOCOM seeks to take advantage of the capabilities of artificial intelligence running on edge computing platforms to provide SOF teams with the organic capacity to distill mission-relevant information from operator-born sensor data.

Interested parties must submit NLT 25 September 11:59 PM ET.

To learn more and register, go here.

Savage’s Launches Virtual Training Tools for 2020 Fall Season

Friday, August 21st, 2020

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts – August 19, 2020 – In light of the exceptional circumstances facing traditional sales and distribution channels, Savage Arms has developed the 2020 Fall Sales Training video series to help educate retailers and customers. The informational content highlights Savage’s technological advancements and will serve as an introduction to new products.

“We were hoping we’d be back to business as usual by now,” said Rob Gates, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Savage. “While we won’t be able to see many of our customers face-to-face, we can still keep everyone informed on what’s happening here at Savage—and that starts with our 2020 Fall Sales Training videos.”

The 2020 Fall Sales Training curriculum will cover a range of subjects. Introductory topics will help new customers build a comprehensive overview of the brand and its innovations. The breadth of the catalog will be broken out into segments dedicated to Savage’s centerfire rifles, rimfires, and shotguns. In addition to announcing new products, these videos will help facilitate person to person training sessions and can be passed along to dealer and retailer store staff.

To access the training videos, please contact your local Savage sales representative. Topics include:

1 Why Savage?

2 Savage Technology                  

3 2020 New Products

4 Centerfire Product Information

5 Rimfire Products Information

6 Shotgun Product Information

7 Marketing Overview and Tools

The 2020 Fall Training series is available now through your local Savage representative. In addition, Savage reps will be available for virtual appointments with customers and buy groups.

Email [email protected] to contact your local sales representative.