HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (May 6, 2015) — He may not be able to predict the future, but Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey will do his best to guarantee the American Soldier is ready for whatever that future brings.
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Army News Service, May 6, 2015) — The Ripsaw Unmanned Ground Vehicle might someday take point and lead Army combat formations across enemy terrain.
The unmanned vehicle, though still in development, has been tested and is capable of driving up to 1 kilometer ahead of various types of formations, Bob Testa said.
Testa, lead engineer for the Remote Weapons Branch of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, showcased the Ripsaw on media day at Picatinny Arsenal, May 4.
“We cut the copper cable and made it wireless so that the vehicle and weapon can both be driven remotely,” said Testa, explaining how it works.
During tests, the Ripsaw was followed by an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. Trailing up to a kilometer behind, the M113 was driven by a Soldier. Another Soldier, in the vehicle, would control the Ripsaw and its weapon wirelessly, Testa said.
Rather than reinvent something, Testa said his team selected a vehicle already produced by Howe and Howe Technologies, since it had remote driving capabilities.
In 2009, “Popular Science” magazine named the Ripsaw the invention of the year, so the technology has been around for a while.
Testa and his team converted the vehicle for Army use. Atop the Ripsaw sits a system Soldiers are familiar with – a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, or CROWS.
CROWS has been used in combat as far back as 2004 in Iraq. Testa’s team supported that initiative, fielding more than 10,000, he said.
CROWS allows a Soldier inside a tank, Humvee, Stryker or any other vehicle to fire his weapon safely from inside the armor-protected vehicle.
In other words, he does not have to stick his head out to see to fire. Cameras and range finders on CROWS see for him and the system can tilt and swivel the weapon as needed.
While that capability probably resulted in a lot of saved lives, the Soldier inside the vehicle could still be killed or injured from a large enemy mine or projectile. So Testa’s team took the remotely-operated system one step further. They completely removed the Soldier from the vehicle.
The weakness of the entire system was the weapon itself, he said, meaning the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, Mk19 40-mm automatic grenade machine gun, M240B 7.62 mm machine gun, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or any number of other weapons that can be mounted in CROWS.
What Testa meant by weakness is that those weapons still required a trigger finger to fire.
So the next step for his team was to design a weapon to fire remotely. ARDEC developed the Advanced Remote Armament System, or ARAS, a gun that self-loads its own ammunition and even can swap out various types of ammunition, such as lethal and non-lethal, in just a few seconds, he said.
The Ripsaw’s speed and mobility is such that it can keep pace with normal operations tempo, he said.
HUMAN IN LOOP
While it is technically feasible to go one step further and make the whole system robotic, meaning fully autonomous, Testa said that would not happen.
The Ripsaw and its ARAS are “tele-operated,” he said. That means a Soldier remotely drives it and operates and fires the weapon.
Army leaders have repeatedly said that “war is a human endeavor” and robots will never replace Soldiers, he said.
Besides the ethical reason, Department of Defense Directive 3000.09 “Autonomy in Weapon Systems,” published in November 2012, prohibits robots from making life and death decisions without a human in control.
While a lot of experimentation and testing has occurred, Testa said formal certification testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, would still be required to move forward. Also needed will be a “firm requirement” from the Army to move ahead past the development phase.
Soldiers themselves would need proper training and indoctrination with regard to using unmanned platforms on the battlefield, he said.
FORT BLISS, Texas (May 5, 2015) — For the past few years, the desert between Ft. Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, has been synonymous with evaluating the Army’s most advanced communication capabilities. This year is no different.
As the Army continues to focus on readiness and modernization, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, just kicked off their assessment of various capabilities.
They are doing so through Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 or NIE, which is an initiative that will provide capabilities to the network in 2020. In order to facilitate the continued innovation and advanced technologies, continuous assessments are crucial.
Key implementers of the NIE process are members of the ‘TRIAD’ comprised of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, Training and Doctrine Command, and Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition Logistics Technology (ASA(ALT)).
The TRIAD is what keeps the cycle in a constant continuum. NIE 15.1 recently came to an end back in October, NIE 15.2 is under way and planning for the Army Warfighting Assessment 16.1 or AWA has been ongoing for several months.
“TRADOC is responsible for identifying the Soldier’s needs and their requirements,” explained Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package, which is a part of ASA(ALT) System of Systems Engineering and Integration. “From an acquisition perspective we receive those requirements, take them and start to develop concepts or identify solutions that satisfy the requirements.”
Having the TRIAD work hand-in-hand, is the driving force that allows the evaluation’s objectives to align with the Army’s overall strategies in creating a ready and modern force armed with sustainable equipment.
Since the Capability Package Directorate team has ensured that the network is integrated, validated and suitable to conduct the testing of the systems, the network for NIE 15.2 has been transitioned over to the 2/1 AD Soldiers to commence evaluations.
With NIE 15.2’s kick off, the initial phase will focus primarily on Operational Tests and data collection.
“We are currently working in a field support role. We control and monitor field service representatives and local acquisition representatives to ensure the network remains up and stable so that capabilities are evaluated properly,” said Harris.
If the systems that are under test pass onto the next level, they can potentially become a part of a capability set that will eventually be fielded out to Brigades across the country and even go into theater.
Harris explained that future AWAs will differ because the focus consists of a heavy mix of networked and non-networked capabilities. An example is comprehensive reviews of the command posts, encompassing hardware consolidation, modular tactical operation center configurations and reduction of clutter.
“While 15.2 has command post capabilities and systems, many efforts will serve as a proof-of-concept into what we will further expand upon during AWA 16.1, when we really get into expeditionary command posts, mission command on the move and mission command at the halt,” said Harris.
Photo: As NIE 15.2 kicks off, Soldiers operate various technologies integrated on Army vehicles within the Fort Bliss, TX area. (U.S. Army photo by Theotis Clemons, CP Plans Ops)
WASHINGTON (ARMY NEWS SERVICE, April 30, 2015) — Cyber, electronic warfare and anti-satellite operations are just a few of the threats facing the United States in the Pacific, said a “futurist,” who spoke recently at the Pentagon.
Addressing a standing-room-only audience of largely logistics Soldiers and civilians from Army G-4, Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, spoke on the sustainment and logistics challenges facing the future force, April 23.
“You’re lucky if you can predict the future, that’s what you are,” he told the crowd. “A good futurist – quote, unquote – basically tries to narrow the range of uncertainly about what’s going to happen and tries to give you a better sense of what is more likely to happen than less likely to happen.”
Krepinevich, a West Point graduate, spent 25 years in the Army, serving on the personal staffs of three defense secretaries and in the Office of Net Assessment and along the way earned his doctoral from Harvard University.
He also published “The Army and Vietnam,” an influential book in which he argued, the United States could have won the war had the Army adopted a small-unit pacification strategy in South Vietnam villages, rather than conducting search and destroy operations in remote jungles.
In 2009, Krepinevich published “7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century,” which presents seven hypothetical scenarios that would severely challenge the U.S. military. His recent work has frequently addressed the challenges posed by the modernization of China’s military forces, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of precision-guided munitions.
“We have a need to become an expeditionary [force] because it boils down to this – what are the future challenges in this world and how can we in the Army plan a strategy that mitigates those risks,” he said.
Addressing the dimensions of strategy, Krepinevich said they were comprised of the operational, the technological, logistical and social and gave examples of each.
“When you look at the German approach to the invasion of Poland in 1939, and more strikingly the German operations against France and Britain in the low country of 1940, you find the Germans didn’t have much in the way of technological or logistical advantage and in terms of support for the war among the population, they didn’t have much there either,” he said. “What they did have was a secret sauce called ‘blitzkrieg’ and they figured out how to use the material they had at hand, better than the British and French and they won in six weeks.”
Technology came home with the nuclear age and the information technology revolution, he said, adding that when the country developed nuclear weapons in 1945, it became a critical factor, a huge source of advantage and the United States was able to prevail and has had a greater advantage due to the technological dimension.
“Logistics – well, our tanks certainly weren’t better than the German tanks in France in 1944, although we had a lot more of them,” he said. “We had a lot more of just about everything you could count: planes, ships, so the logistical dimension is an important factor,” he said.
Showing a slide with a World War II poster of factory workers building war machines and a photograph of protesters carrying signs demanding “Uncle Sam” to leave Vietnam, Krepinevich said the measure of popular support, either high or lack thereof can have an important effect on victory or defeat.
He said during the Napoleonic Wars (1805-1809) operational and social trumped logistical, while during the American Civil War and World War II logistical trumped operational and during Vietnam, social trumped logistical and technical.
“It wasn’t for lack of high technology against the North Vietnamese Army or the Viet Cong,” he said. “Our logistics were a marvel in the early years of that war… it wasn’t a lack of materiel or skills… it was a lack of social support.
“We have emerging challenges which we try to identify to our security, our survival and well-being – vital interests,” Krepinevich said. “The military takes steps to preserve those efforts to secure our liberty, freedom and well-being… and logistics has to function to support those however the military decides [how] it’s going to go about performing its mission.”
RETURN OF GREAT POWER COMPETITION
“Today, we are faced with three revisionist powers – Russia in Europe, Iran in the Middle East and China in the Far East that do not like the existing international order and are working to change it in significant ways – in ways that clash with our interests and we have a strategic choice to make as to how we’re going to deal with that,” Krepinevich said.
“Are we going to accommodate these changes or are we going to practice appeasement… are we going to try to resist and, if so, how are we going to try and resist to maintain stability and how are these people competing with us?”
According to Krepinevich, it is not just Russia, China and Iran competing with the United States – it is China competing with India and China competing with Japan. He said several of his Japanese associates are keen on knowing how the United States plans to deal with the growing military balance in the Far East.
“The competition is geopolitical, economic and ideological in character… the scale of the challengers has increased, where it was Libya, Iraq, Iran and North Korea,” he said. “A lot of those hardy perennials are still there, but now we have countries that can compete on a scale that dwarf those countries… and not only that… they are shifting the form of competition which makes it doubly challenging for us.”
EMERGING CHALLENGES: ANTI-ACCESS/AREA-DENIAL
Krepinevich said China is actively engaged and well into its second decade of essentially trying to shift the military balance in the region progressively in its favor and it’s doing so in what he thinks is a “very strategically sound way.”
“I was once in a meeting with Henry Kissinger and he opined that the Chinese were the best strategists that he thought he had ever come up against — so that’s pretty high praise,” Krepinevich said.
There are several areas the Chinese seem to be placing an emphasis on, he said – one would be to go after the U.S. nervous system, the battle network with anti-satellite capabilities … “it was just reported they conducted an anti-satellite test just last year with both kinetic and directed energy, certainly including cyber operations against us upon a rather grand scale in terms of economic warfare and espionage,” he said.
He also said he suspected China would have a cyber campaign, adding that the Chinese had taken pages from radio-electronic combat during the Cold War when the Soviets really began using electronic warfare.
“The Chinese talk about high-tech warfare and they are looking at integrating the effects of cyber, electronic warfare, jamming and so on as a major part of their maneuver if you will… maneuvering on radio-frequency terrain… going after the nervous system,” he said.
“The other area is that we have many eggs in few baskets and so you see ballistic missile forces being built up – cruise missile forces,” he said. “We have a major air base in Kadena, in Okinawa and a major air and naval base in Guam. We have carriers and of course, they’re building submarines, anti-ship cruise missiles carried by submarines and by aircraft.”
The Chinese are also building the DF-21 ballistic missile, which is designed to become an aircraft-carrier killer, he said, noting that some experts think it looks to fall short of its mission.
“But think about it – if you’re one of the commanders of one of those carriers that takes how many years to build – are you going to sail it in there and see just how good the DF-21 is,” he asked rhetorically.
Turning to the idea of blockades, both on the part of China and the United States – if it were to come to that – Krepinevich said there are those in the “off-shore crowd” who believe a blockade would be enough to “win” logistically.
“I’m skeptical about that,” he said. “My concern is if we try and blockade China, China will blockade Taiwan and Japan – and they won’t do it with a bunch of sailing ships sitting outside harbors, they’ll do it with missiles, submarines and mines and smart mines, and we’ll have to figure out a way to win that logistics battle between reinforcing and sustaining our allies and our forces forward.”
In order to have an expeditionary capability to fight in a contested environment, the Army must decrease demands and increase logistics efficiencies and unit independence. Autonomous aerial resupply within the brigade combat team (BCT) is one capability that would meet these needs.