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Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

Hometown Army Fellow Joins PEO Soldier as Next Gen Body Armor Engineer

Monday, April 8th, 2024

Born and raised in Alexandria, Va., Britt Wieland grew up going to the Ft. Belvoir summer camp.

Now, as a civilian engineer with PEO Soldier, she works on the Army’s next generation body armor at Fort Belvoir.

Wieland’s primary focus as a Body Armor Engineer is the Army’s new hard armor.  In her current position, she enjoys seeing the direct impact of her work on the warfighter every day.

“We procure and field the latest body armor to our Soldiers,” explained Wieland.

“I have some friends serving in the Army, and every time they receive the newest gear, they call me to rant and rave about how excited they are, and I take a sense of pride in knowing I get to play a part in serving those who serve us. There aren’t many jobs that give you that kind of opportunity and fulfillment.”

Having trained as both a Hard and Soft Armor Engineer, Britt frequently is called upon to brief Soldiers, Army Senior Leaders, and industry partners on the Vital Torso Protection (VTP) system.

VTP is a subsystem of the Soldier Protection System, the Army’s newest Personal Protective Equipment. The Army is currently collecting data to verify trade space of weight reduction with protection ability for Soldiers to reduce the Soldier’s load and increase mobility in tactical environments.

“Our goal is to rebalance the testing to optimize the time and cost spent, while maintaining performance. This will allow industry to redirect resources towards developing more advanced designs and technologies, which in turn, benefits the Soldier.”

As the chair for the Vital Torso Protection Purchase Description project, Wieland has had an opportunity to work on the Army’s newest hard armor, where she has demonstrated her leadership skills during the process of changing the testing and evaluations for VTP.

“We’re looking to make the test procedures more statistically significant, operationally relevant, and aligned with the original requirements,” explains Wieland.

“I feel really special knowing my leadership trusted me to represent them even though I was less than a year into my career.”

Britt has served in key briefing roles to the special operations community, including the Spear Side-by-Side, which aimed to develop understanding and communality amongst the kit used in SOF versus the general Army, and USASOC Women in ARSOF, which supports holistic improvements to not only the kit of female Soldiers, but also improvements to uniforms, healthcare and quality of life.

“Britt has been able to brief key senior leaders and a large group of female Sergeants Major from ARSTAFF on improvements to PPE and paths forward for iterative changes based on Soldier feedback. She’s also taken part in HFEs to gain knowledge on Soldier kit,” said Maj. Kim Pierre-Zamora, the assistant product manager for the body armor team.

“There’s also a special place in my heart for the Army’s mission to better equip female and small statured soldiers,” Britt Wieland said.

“As a smaller female myself, I take pride in being a female engineer that gets to help take on this task and find it extremely rewarding every time I get to fit a female Warrior with a new kit that was made with them in mind,” Wieland said.

Britt Wieland graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lawrence Technological University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. She became an Army Fellow in 2020 and joined PEO Soldier as a Department of the Army civilian in 2023.

By Scott Sundsvold, Army

Welding Individual Protective Safety Ensemble

Sunday, April 7th, 2024

Last month, members of Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment (PdM SCIE) issued the Welding Individual Protective Safety Ensemble to Soldiers at Fort Eustis, Virginia is. The ensemble provides Soldiers with personal protective equipment to perform most welding duties in any operational environment. The equipment went into Limited User Testing and Evaluation with Allied Trade Specialists, focusing on Soldier ease of movement and functionality. Early testing included welding tasks while wearing body armor.

PEO Soldier Equips First Unit with the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Helmet

Friday, February 16th, 2024

WASHINGTON – On Feb. 12, 2024, PEO Soldier fielded the Next-Generation Integrated Head Protection System to approximately 2,000 Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, marking the first-unit-equipped milestone in enhancing Soldier protection.

The NG-IHPS is the Army’s newest combat helmet, replacing the previously fielded Integrated Head Protection System, the Advanced Combat Helmet, and the Enhanced Combat Helmet. The combat-ready NG-IHPS consists of a retention system, suspension system, helmet cover and a night vision device bracket that is able to integrate a mandible protector, hearing protection, communications and heads-up displays like the Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular.

“This fielding marks significant progress for Soldier protective equipment as it equips Soldiers with protection against relevant battlefield threats, and the innovative helmet design is a purpose-built platform for integration now, and with future Soldier-enabling devices,” said Lt. Col. Ken Elgort, product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment.

The NG-IHPS, which will be fielded to the close-combat force, interfaces with the next generation of night vision devices, while the mandible protector mounts onto the front of the NG-IHPS for additional protection. The mandible protector is fielded to 6% of the force operating in a mounted configuration.

“The NG-IHPS provides increased ballistic and fragmentation protection while reducing the weight required to previously reach this protection level by 40%,” said Maj. Matthew Nulk, assistant program manager of the Head Protection Team. “This is world-leading rifle threat protection we’re providing to our Soldiers.”

According to Alex de Groot, lead engineer for the Head Protection Team, “The boltless retention system and night vision device bracket mount on without compromising the helmet’s structural integrity, thus increasing protection.”

PEO Soldier will equip the 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams, 82nd Airborne Division, this quarter and will complete fielding to all close-combat force units over the next three years.

Program Executive Office Soldier is responsible for the rapid prototyping, procurement and fielding of equipment for Soldiers. NG-IHPS is part of the Soldier Survivability portfolio, the largest portfolio within PEO Soldier. The NG-IHPS is one part of the Soldier Protection System, which also includes the Modular Scalable Vest, the Ballistic Combat Shirt, the Blast Pelvic Protector and the Vital Torso Protection hard armor plates.

By U.S. Army Public Affairs

The photo is an Army photo of an IHPS, but not from this fielding.

Looking Back, Program Manager Soldier Lethality Change of Charter

Friday, December 1st, 2023

Lindner Conference Center   –  

Project Manager Soldier Lethality held a change of charter ceremony, followed by a retirement ceremony, at Lindner Conference Center on Picatinny Arsenal, August 4.

Brig. Gen. Christopher Schneider officiated the exchange of responsibility of PM SL from the outgoing Program Manager Col. Scott Madore to Col. Jason Bohannon.

“There are three things I think are the secret sauce to being a great Program Manager,” said Schneider. “You have to lead fearlessly and with compassion. You have to have experience. The last thing I call stakeholder management, but it’s actually being a good teammate. Scott does all these things frankly better than most people I know.”

PM SL performs a pivotal role in equipping Soldiers with unparalleled proficiency in both individual and crew-served weaponry. By overseeing the development, production, deployment, and sustainment of contemporary and future weapon systems, along with target acquisition and fire control products, PM SL ensures a continual evolution. As a result, Soldiers are outfitted with advanced systems that significantly elevate their survivability and lethality, reinforcing their effectiveness in the field.

“I feel extremely honored to have been selected to come to Picatinny to be a part of PEO Soldier and to be part of the PM Soldier Lethality Team,” said Madore, giving his final remarks after handing the leadership reigns over to his counterpart. “I cannot imagine a greater group of teammates to finish my career working alongside.”

As the PM SL organization sends off Col. Madore and his family, a warm welcome is given to the leadership skills and technical expertise of Col. Bohannon. The newest member of the PM SL team here at Picatinny Arsenal is no stranger to this organization.

“My family first came here in 2012,” said Bohannon. “I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to putting me here today. This has been the homecoming for the Bohannon tribe…”

 “So, when I talk to the Officers, men, and women of PM Soldier Lethality – you have the most consequential task of our generation for small arms development.  We will field the most lethal small arms that ground forces have ever seen, those systems must be the most reliable tool a Soldier, Marine or operator can depend on are in a firefight, a tool that [they] can trust.”

This was not only a change of charter ceremony, but also an opportunity for Madore to celebrate his retirement ceremony. Madore served with honor in the military for 31 years. The entire organization wishes him and his family good luck and best wishes as they move toward future endeavors.

Be all you can be, Scott. Thank you for your service to the country and for everything you’ve done in your 31-year career.

Story by Luke Graziani, US Army

Photo by Jesse Glass

PEO Soldier Gets to Ground Truth on Soldier Equipment

Tuesday, November 14th, 2023

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The Army is continuing its efforts to modernize the force and build towards the Army of 2030 and beyond. To support that effort, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Soldier is engaging with Soldiers at the ground level to get to the fundamental truth of how Soldiers are equipped in the operational environment and what gear they have modified or purchased for mission, environment, comfort and personal effect.

PEO Soldier’s Assistant Program Executive Officer (APEO) Soldier has been conducting Operational Kit (O.K.) Analysis with the operational force to collect this data.

O.K. Analysis seeks to address a multitude of objectives to help shape the Army of 2030 and the future Soldier. The effort looks to proactively identify opportunities utilizing the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP), influence materiel change proposals, identify equipment training challenges and address installation Soldier equipment logistics challenges.

“The idea behind O.K. Analysis was hatched by APEO Soldier’s Senior Enlisted Advisor, MSG Josh Kaplan,” said COL Douglas Copeland, Assistant Program Executive Officer, PEO Soldier. “He identified the need to bridge the gap between what we think Soldiers and Squads carry as materiel developers and what is actually used out in the field.”

In launching the initiative, MSG Kaplan took a couple of key steps: First, he created a community of interest across various stakeholders. Second, he worked with SGM Daniel Rose, PEO Soldier Sergeant Major, to combine the O.K. Analysis event with the PEO Soldier Capabilities Demonstration, which informs the force of our current and emerging capabilities in the PEO Soldier portfolio. This strategy allows PEO Soldier to gain Soldier feedback about on operational needs and determine exactly how PEO capabilities are impacting the Force.

The goal is to provide operational context to the acquisition force, said SGM Rose. “We’re trying to explain to the acquisition professionals here at PEO Soldier and stakeholders in the Army enterprise how Soldiers are using the equipment that they are designing, procuring and fielding in the operational environment. What we found is that sometimes they won’t be using the equipment the way it was designed to be used. We try to bring that kind of context back to the acquisition force to help them as they’re designing and procuring new pieces of equipment.”

The O.K. Analysis team kicked off the program at USARCENT in Kuwait in March 2023 and has since engaged with the 11th Airborne and 25th Infantry Divisions. As a result, PEO Soldier has, to date, collected data from eight Squads and worked with senior leadership to establish an equipment baseline across the Army’s operational units.

The effort goes beyond simply questioning Soldiers about their thoughts and experience with PEO Soldier capabilities. MSG Kaplan explained, “We deploy a team of senior NCOs with extensive operational experience and extremely smart government contractors who carry out an array of responsibilities, such as data collection, statistics, logistics and photography. We collect several thousand lines of data, hundreds of photos and several hours of interviews that are analyzed as a part of an out-brief to communities of interest, then added to our holistic database for further analysis.”

After taking part in PEO Soldier’s O.K. Analysis engagement, SGM Brian Disque, G-3, 5 and 7 Sergeant Major, USARCENT, stated that he was very impressed with its effectiveness and potential benefits. He explained, “It is a very ambitious effort to answer an important question: What gear are Soldiers actually using and why? PEO Soldier took the idea of unit outreach and feedback to the next level with a meticulous approach to data collection to better understand the perspectives of Soldiers across the Army. The wealth of data collected will be very useful when informing future efforts to outfit our Soldiers. All of the Army should be grateful that this team was willing to roll up their sleeves and get out to all corners of our Army to answer these questions.”

This effort has already returned positive outcomes. Through the O.K. Analysis initiative, PEO Soldier has been able to strengthen critical partnerships with the Maneuver Center of Excellence, DEVCOM and several Army Corps. PEO Soldier has also been able to facilitate the establishment of Environmental Working Groups with these communities of interest, which include items discovered through the O.K. Analysis effort.

“The most important benefit of O.K. Analysis is to ensure that the Soldier’s voice is heard, including senior leaders in operational units who have important Soldier equipment insights,” Kaplan said. “We do this in the form of detailed equipment inventories, pictures and candid interviews that are shared with the enterprise. If someone asks, ‘Why is Soldier equipment getting heavier?’, our team can say, ‘Let me show you.’ There is a lot of power in that.”

Disque agreed, noting, “For USARCENT and our deployed force, the opportunity to provide our candid feedback to the professional data collection team is of immediate benefit. Innovation is one of our top priorities, and we are always searching for ways to bring innovative concepts to our Area of Responsibility (AOR). Soldier kit is one of those topics for which there is no shortage of great ideas out there, often based on real-world feedback from operating environments across the CENTCOM AOR – you just have to ask the right questions, which I am confident the PEO Soldier team executed to perfection.”

Through this effort, PEO Soldier began an Army-wide innovation synchronization effort that encompasses 18th Airborne Corps’ Eagle Works, I Corps’ Lightning Lab, USARCENT and PEO Soldier’s Soldier Integration Facility. This will allow stakeholders to collaborate and share data and integration solutions across the Close Combat Integration Enterprise (CCIE).

“Any opportunity to connect our modernization efforts to deployed Soldiers on a mission is valuable,” said Disque. “Some of the most innovative ideas come from operating in a deployed environment, and for the PEO team to have access to Soldiers that served recently in Syria and other areas is tremendous.”

Kaplan and his team have proactively submitted proposals for the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) on behalf of Soldiers through the O.K. Analysis. The SEP is a process designed to help the Army enhance Soldiers’ ability to execute their combat mission by evaluating prototypes and commercially available items submitted by Soldiers and industry. Since its inception six months ago, PEO Soldier has identified 23 potential SEP opportunities, which is an exponential increase relative to recent years. Soldiers, senior leaders and industry are also able to submit their own proposals utilizing PEO Soldier’s website.

“Soldiers are very innovative,” said Kaplan. “There is always that one Soldier in the Squad who can create ways for his unit to become more lethal. This initiative highlights innovative solutions so communities of interest can stay on pace with the operational force.”

CSM Joseph Gaskin, Command Sergeant Major, 1/11 Airborne Division, added to that assessment by stating, “Any effort the Army uses to better inform equipment requirements from the Soldier on the ground is value added to our formation. The O.K Analysis comprehensive program captured data that will assist leaders to better understand what risk the Soldier’s load presents as we operate in the extreme cold of our operational environment.”

PEO Soldier will continue its O.K. Analysis effort by visiting Soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division in October and engaging with U.S. Army Europe in the second quarter of 2024. This ongoing effort will collect and share data amongst the CCIE to help shape the Army’s modernization efforts moving into 2030 and beyond.

PEO Soldier is now encouraging other interested U.S. Army operational divisions to reach out and schedule an O.K. Analysis of their area of responsibility.

“We look forward to expanding our O.K. Analysis across the Army’s operational units to further collaboration, leverage creative innovation and enable proactive capability development for Soldier equipment,” said Copeland.

By David Jordan

PEO Soldier Showcases Technologies for the Army of 2030

Sunday, October 22nd, 2023

US Army Begins Fielding Next Generation Squad Weapons

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Having recently completed Production Qualification Testing of the XM7 Rifle and XM250 Automatic Rifle, the US Army has begun issuing the first of the Next Generation Weapon System to 2nd Bde, 101st Airborne Division. Of note, the famed 101st was also the first unit to receive the M17 Modular Handgun System.

The capability

Manufactured by SIG SAUER, the NGSW consists of the two weapons along with a new hybrid cartridge in 6.8x51mm. These new weapons are being referred to by the Army as the, “most lethal small arms capability in the world” and are intended to replace the M4A1 Carbine, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and 5.56mm family of ammunition. But not every Soldier is getting these new weapons. They are reserved for the Close Combat Force which consists of Infantry and Cavalry Scouts as well as select Combat Engineers and enablers. All told, the Army aims to field around 100,000 XM7s and 20,000 XM250s.

XM7 Rifle

XM250 Automatic Rifle

6.8mm Family of Ammunition

The Common Cartridge Family of Ammunition has similar performance to the commercially available .270 Win Short Mag cartridge and consists of the XM1186 GP ammo along with reduced range, blank, tracer, and a marking round for force-on-force training.

XM157 Fire Control

To further enhance lethality, NGSW is paired with a new Fire Control System manufactured by Vortex Optics. It integrates a number of advanced technologies including a variable magnification optic, backup etched reticle, laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, Intra-Soldier Wireless, visible and infrared aiming lasers, and a digital display overlay.

The NGSW-FC is the planned replacement for the Close Combat Optic, Rifle Combat Optic, and Machine Gun Optic within the Close Combat Force.

It is important to note that the Army’s position is that Fire Control doesn’t replace training but enhances the fundamentals.

For those of you wondering, the XM157 uses two CR132 batteries and the life is 250 hours on the low setting.

Additionally, the Army has conducted integration testing between the XM157 and Integrated Visual Augmentation System in each iteration, including IVAS 1.2 which is currently in testing.

The team

To field NGSW, the Army has assembled a team of teams which include PEO Soldier, JPEO Ammunition, Close Combat Cross Functional Team and Army Test and Evaluation Command.

The road to the selection of a NGSW system was started about six years ago with a short lived quest for an Interim Combat Service Rifle in 7.62 NATO which quickly morphed into the search for 6.8mm weapons which resulted in contract award in April 2022.

SAAC Study

The Small Arms Ammunition Configuration study was published 26 June 2017 and several conclusions informed the requirement for NGSW.

They are:

-Caliber doesn’t matter

–Secondary performance driver

-Ballistic energy on target does matter

-Advanced bullet tech matters

-Fire control matters

-Aim error reduction has largest impact on performance

–Advanced fire control reduces aim error in lieu of extensive shooter experience /ability or significant training

The path ahead

On 25 Sep 2023 the A Co, 2-502nd, will go through New Equipment Training followed by a demonstration of the new capabilities of NGSW brings to the table.

Beginning 10 Oct 2023, the unit will participate in a Limited User Test which will examine Soldier mobility (timed) with both the new weapons as well as legacy systems. They will also evaluate overall system performance, how Soldiers interact with the new weapons, and how they feel about them. The NGSW team will also begin to consider how they may transform TTPs.

Additionally, a squad from the Ranger Regiment will join the members of the 101st in the LUT to gain SOF insight into the weapons.

In the coming months is environmental testing including desert, jungle and arctic and an Operational Assessment will be conducted 1st qtr 2025. This is an event designed to determine how Soldiers will fight with the new capability.

The Army plans for the 1st Bde, 101st to be the first unit equipped in 2nd Qtr, FY24, likely in March.

Turning cover into concealment

During a visit earlier today to Aberdeen Army Test Center, PM SL representatives demonstrated that the 6.8mm round will defeat cinder blocks used in the construction of buildings around the world and a barrier which the 5.56 cartridge fired by the M249 SAW will not penetrate through and through. This new capability is a huge advantage for those fighting in built up areas and against trench and bunker complexes.

As LTC Micah Rue, Product Manager Soldier Weapons, PEO Soldier put it, “NGSW turns cover into concealment.”

Ammunition production

Currently, the Army is manufacturing the 3-piece GP projectile which is based on Enhanced Performance Round technology and SIG is producing the cartridges at their factory in Arkansas.

Lake City Army Ammunition Plant will establish an interim capability in 2024 and transition to an enduring capability in 2026. All the while, SIG SAUER will continue to produce ammunition, pursuant to their contract.

The Elephant In The Room

If there’s a common criticism of the XM7 it’s the weight. Weight is certainly an issue for the Soldier and there is some good news and some not so good news when it comes to NGSW.

The raw data when comparing an M4A1 with Close Combat Optic to an XM7 fitted with the XM157 NGSW Fire Control System and suppressor sees the XM7 at three pounds heavier. However, that would be comparing apples to oranges. With the XM7 the Soldier is not only getting an Infantry Rifle capable of firing a more lethal projectile, but also a suppressor and an advanced optic which greatly increases the ability to hit targets, particularly out past 300 meters.

On the other hand, the great news with the XM250 is that it is 2.7 pounds lighter than the M249 SAW it replaces, both with 100 round belts in place. The Soldier is also getting a suppressor with the XM250 and that same 6.8mm round which will defeat cinder blocks at ranges exceeding 300 meters.

Constant improvement

As a completely new capability the program has faced some engineering challenges including toxic fumes, reliability and dispersion. However, the PM has worked with industry to quickly solve these problems and keep the program on track.

Other changes have been made to the weapons to enhance their performance. For example, SIG added an additional feed pawl to the feed tray cover which makes it easier to load a belt without lifting the cover. They also removed the forward assist from production versions of the XM7 to reduce the weight of an unneeded feature.

This is happening

NGSW is an Army modernization priority as they push forward with their fielding plan. Although there are still several events between now and First Unit Equipped, it is only six months away. This program is moving very quickly and will transform the squad in ways we are not even aware of yet.

All images and charts provided by PEO Soldier.

Army Accepts Prototypes of the Most Advanced Version of IVAS

Friday, August 4th, 2023

This week, the Army accepted delivery of the first 20 prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) 1.2 variant. The milestone is the latest step in the process of getting the most advanced version of the situational awareness system in the hands of Soldiers.

Microsoft delivered the 20 prototypes to Project Manager Soldier Warrior (PM SWAR), the program office within Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier responsible for overseeing the development of IVAS.

IVAS is a single platform that features an all-weather fighting goggle and a mixed reality heads-up display that integrates next-generation situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to provide Soldiers with improved mobility and lethality, during the day or at night. IVAS provides Soldiers with a single device to fight, rehearse and train.

“This is a really big deal for the program,” said Col. Anthony Gibbs, PM SWAR. “A little over a year ago we did an operational test with version 1.0 of the system. We learned a lot. We got a lot of good Soldier feedback. So last summer we came back and restructured the program. We took those lessons learned and all that Soldier feedback and in less than a year have what we now call version 1.2 of the system.”

Soldiers and squads will use IVAS to gain a fuller understanding of their operational environment. Its enhanced low-light and thermal sensors improve target identification. IVAS integrates with ground and air platform sensors, allowing Soldiers to see outside vehicles before dismounting into a hazardous situation. IVAS provides 3D mapping and navigation capabilities and can ingest data from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

“[IVAS] complements what’s currently in the Army’s inventory while expanding close combat force capabilities by leveraging the digital architecture for shared awareness and computing at the edge,” said Lt. Col. Denny Dresch, Product Manager IVAS. “IVAS provides a first-person augmented reality perspective that enables the integrating of operational data such as routes and control measures into the person’s field of view.”

The system’s embedded training tool, the Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer (SiVT), also provides Soldiers objective-based scenarios and battle drills through holographic and mixed-reality imagery, giving units the flexibility to train their squads with minimal resources.

IVAS 1.2 builds and improves on the capabilities of previous versions of IVAS (IVAS 1.0 and IVAS 1.1). Specifically, IVAS 1.2 incorporates reliability upgrades, features an improved low-light sensor and introduces a new form factor with a lower profile heads-up display (HUD) with a distributed counterweight for improved user interface and comfort.

IVAS 1.2 also has the capability to attach to a combat helmet with a “hinged” device to allow Soldiers to raise and lower the display, similar to traditional night vision goggles.

IVAS 1.0 and IVAS 1.1 will primarily be issued to schoolhouses and operational units for use in training to support the Army’s Campaign of Learning. The close combat force will receive IVAS 1.2.

“Anybody who has had IVAS on, even the early versions, knows that this is a transformative capability and really has the potential to change the way that we fight,” said Gibbs. “This new version, 1.2, we think it’s really going to hit the mark in terms of what we need to put out there for our Soldiers to give them the situational awareness and the leap-ahead capability they need to stay ahead of our peers.”

The 20 prototypes will be featured at a User Assessment in August, during which two squads of Soldiers will use IVAS 1.2 to measure the system’s performance and ensure engineering efforts are on schedule and meeting design objectives.

Story by Frederick Shear, PEO Soldier