Tagged: advanced

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2ND BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: Tactical fitness, countermobility training

Bright and early at 5 a.m. on a cool morning, April 18, Soldiers were called to their company. They were told to arrive promptly in uniform, with their gear fully packed, ready and set to go.

Once they arrived the Soldiers would endure a road march followed by hours of intense training out in the back 40 of Fort Campbell.

The Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trained to improve their tactical fitness, countermobility and survivability.

Training such as this is conducted weekly to further ensure that 39th BEB’s combat engineers remain efficient in their infantry skills.

“Today we started with a four-mile ruck march with full kit and a 30-pound ruck,” said 2nd Lt. Garrett Bridenbaugh, engineer officer and platoon leader in A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We then proceeded out to the training site to build countermobility obstacles.  Today we focused on the triple-strand concertina wire obstacle and the 11-row obstacle, we also went through survivability positions and fox holes.”

Concertina wire is a type of razor wire that is formed into large coils that can be expanded like a concertina or accordion.

The triple-strand concertina wire obstacle, constructed by combat engineers, consists of two rolls of concertina wire side-by-side on the bottom with one roll of wire on top, like a pyramid, secured with additional wire to prevent crushing. It is designed to slow or stop personnel and small-wheeled vehicles.

The 11-row obstacle consists of 11 rows of concertina wire laid parallel to each other on the ground and are anchored with pickets. This is used to hold back and slow down incoming enemy personnel and even tanks.

“We are enablers of the infantry,” Bridenbaugh said. “We set up the defensive area for them as well as fight alongside them. The training we did today is significantly important because the platoon needs to understand their roles as well as everyone else’s role from the lowest to the highest-ranking Soldier. We also did this training to beat the standard. The engineer planning factors and tools doctrine gives us a time standard on how quickly the obstacles are to be set up, but we aim to be faster and exceed the standard. The faster we can build these obstacles, the better advantage we have for defense.”

A combat engineer is a Soldier who performs a variety of different demolition and constructional tasks while under combat conditions. Their mission is to assist other military personnel when taking on rough terrain in combat. They provide expertise in areas such as mobility, countermobility, survivability and general engineering.

As companies continue to grow in strength with personnel, for some of the newest Soldiers this was their first hands-on training experience with 39th BEB after advanced individual training.

“Today went well,” said Pvt. Tristan Cooper, combat engineer with A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We worked together as a team and it got done faster than I’ve ever seen it competed in [advanced individual training]. I got hands-on learning for the triple-strand, 11 row and foxholes. It was a good day.”

It is important to conduct weekly and monthly hands-on training during which Soldiers execute their skills, which increases information retention while setting the standard.

“The importance of this is to get the Sapper squad to become more efficient in constructing the obstacles and understand the standards,” said Sgt. Jose Acosta, combat engineer and squad leader, A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We only teach the standard, right? Therefore, we expect them to be more effective in their work.”

The Soldiers of 39th BEB learned how to construct some of the most effective countermobility defense obstacles as well as how to work as a cohesive unit.

“The more training we are able to do like this, the closer our platoon becomes,” Bridenbaugh said. “The more esprit de corps we have the more comradery we can build. The Soldiers love to come out and train. We try and get as much training out of it as we possibly can and just try to have fun while doing as much work as possible.”

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The US military wants AI to dream up weird new helicopters

AI can already dream up imaginary celebrities[1], so perhaps it can help the Army imagine revolutionary new engine parts or aircraft, too.

That’s the goal of a new project from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)[2], the research wing of the US Defense Department. DARPA wants entrants to rethink the way complex components are designed by combining recent advances in machine learning with fundamental tenets of math and engineering.

AI is increasingly being used to imagine new things, from celebrity faces[3] to clothing[4] (see “The GANfather: The man who’s given machines the gift of imagination[5]”). The systems being used to conjure up new ideas are still in their early stages, but they show a path forward.

Machine learning is also already used in some areas of design and engineering, but the DARPA project aims to apply it more broadly, and to the crucial task of determining function and form. “We are using very few computational tools,” says Jan Vandenbrande, the DARPA program manager in charge. “It’s very artisan.”

Recommended for You

One project selected for funding by DARPA is D-FOCUS, from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and PARC, the research company spun out of Xerox.

D-FOCUS doesn’t come up with new designs from scratch but offers up alternatives to existing designs. If the early phase of the design process is automated, a human designer can explore more design options and compare trade-offs with each option before committing to a potentially very expensive plan, says Johan de Kleer, the PARC lead on the project.

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Under the DARPA challenge, software has to come up with designs for machines that can solve classic engineering questions, like how to transport water uphill.

Using hard-coded laws of physics along with functional requirements provided by a human designer, D-FOCUS can explore potential design concepts. For the moving-water-uphill problem, for instance, the system suggested using the Leidenfrost effect—a phenomenon where water droplets on a very hot surface create a thin layer of vapor beneath themselves, causing a repulsive force that makes the water hover above the surface. The researchers admit that this concept is largely impractical, but it is the type of out-there thinking that can push designers to come up with innovative designs.

DARPA has a long history of backing early technologies. The DARPA Grand Challenge[7] was the first long-distance competition for driverless cars, back in 2004, and it kicked off the current boom in self-driving technology. More recently, DARPA funded an Explainable AI (XAI)[8] program to develop new AI systems that were easier for humans to understand.

Mike Haley, Autodesk’s senior director of machine intelligence, says AI could expand design beyond boundaries imposed by the bias and groupthink that humans can succumb to. “We are going to think beyond our brains and come up with ideas that we would have never come up with before,” Haley says. “It’s like having the world’s most wonderful mentor.”

References

  1. ^ dream up imaginary celebrities (www.technologyreview.com)
  2. ^ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ celebrity faces (www.technologyreview.com)
  4. ^ clothing (www.technologyreview.com)
  5. ^ The GANfather: The man who’s given machines the gift of imagination (www.technologyreview.com)
  6. ^ Manage your newsletter preferences (www.technologyreview.com)
  7. ^ DARPA Grand Challenge (www.darpa.mil)
  8. ^ Explainable AI (XAI) (www.darpa.mil)
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5 Things You May Have Missed in the Homeland Security Reauthorization Bill

The Homeland Security Department must launch a program offering cash rewards for hackable computer vulnerabilities discovered by non-government researchers under a reauthorization bill a Senate committee advanced last week.

The program, known as a bug bounty, would be limited to the department’s public-facing apps, websites and web tools, according to an amendment[1] to the reauthorization bill[2] the Senate Homeland Security Committee forwarded March 7.

The amendment, which was adopted on a voice vote, was sponsored by Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who also sponsored a standalone version of the bug bounty bill that the committee passed[3] in October.

Bug bounties are increasingly prevalent among major tech firms, such as Google and Microsoft, but are less common in government. The Pentagon, Army and Air Force have all run pilot bug bounties in recent years, but the civilian government has been more wary of the programs.

The amendment provides $250,000 to carry out the bug bounty program and requires a report to Congress six months later about who participated in the program, what they found and how much Homeland Security paid out for vulnerabilities

The bug bounty provision was not included in a House version of the reauthorization bill, which passed[4] that chamber in December, though a standalone version[5] of the plan was introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.

Cyber R&D Back to S&T

A separate amendment[6] to the Senate reauthorization bill would return authority for Homeland Security’s cybersecurity research and development programs to the department’s science and technology division.

The Trump administration shifted[7] that responsibility in its most recent budget proposal to the department’s cyber operations agency.

The move followed complaints that the Science and Technology Directorate’s cyber research was not closely aligned enough with the department’s immediate cybersecurity concerns.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., specifies major focus areas for the department’s cyber research, including cyber defense technologies, advanced encryption tools and ways to monitor systems for insider threats.

CISA’s on a Roll

In general, the Senate version of the reauthorization bill, sponsored by Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and ranking member Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wraps in more priorities, while the House version is more pared back.

A proposal to elevate and rename the department’s main cyber division, for example, was included in the Senate legislation but not in the House where it passed as a standalone bill.

Both the House and Senate versions of that provision would rename the division that’s currently called the National Protection and Programs Directorate, or NPPD, as the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA.

That agency would have a director who reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security and assistant directors for cybersecurity and infrastructure security.

The Senate bill mandates a report from CISA within six months about the most efficient and effective way for the new agency to consolidate its facilities, personnel and programs.

A separate report, due within three months, would focus on how the agency is filling its cyber workforce needs.

The bill also mandates a privacy officer at CISA who’s responsible, among other things, for “ensuring that the use of technologies by the agency sustain, and do not erode, privacy protections relating to the use, collection, and disclosure of personal information.”

If a compromise version of the reauthorization bills becomes law it will mark the first time Homeland Security’s work has been codified in statute since the department was formed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Let’s Form a Commission

The Senate version of the reauthorization bill also breaks with its House counterpart by appointing a congressional commission to explore ways to pare back the morass of overlapping congressional committees that Homeland Security agencies must report to.

That complicated oversight structure is largely a result of Homeland Security’s ad hoc composition out of existing divisions and offices moved from other federal agencies.  

Johnson championed[8] the idea of a congressional commission early in the reauthorizing process and the idea was largely supported by Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

As described in the Senate bill, the commission would include six members—three Republicans and three Democrats—who would provide recommendations for reforming the department’s congressional reporting lines within nine months.

The commission would be able to hire staff and consultants and hold hearings with funding provided by Homeland Security. That funding could not exceed $1 million, according to the bill.

Commission members would be appointed two each by the Senate majority and minority leaders and one each by the House majority and minority leaders. All recommendations would require a majority vote of commissioners before being included in the final report.

Cloud Security as a Service

The Senate bill also mandates a report within four months on how Homeland Security is helping other civilian agencies ensure the cybersecurity of their computer cloud-based systems.

That report must include a briefing on the department’s efforts to provide “security operations center as a service” to agencies that lack the resources or expertise to manage their own security operations centers, or SOCs. SOCs are essentially central command centers where an organization evaluates and responds to cyber threats.

A group of technology advisers to the White House urged Homeland Security to consider developing such services in a December report[9].

The report must also focus on how Homeland Security is helping agencies buy commercial SOC services and how it’s adapting its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program—essentially a suite of cybersecurity services the department provides to other agencies—for the cloud era.

Other provisions in the Senate reauthorization bill would:

  • Order a report within three months on U.S. cooperative efforts with China to combat illegal opioids shipments, including through dark web drug markets.
  • Order a report within four months on results, obstacles and future plans for cybersecurity grant funds provided by the department.
  • Establish a cyber workforce exchange[10] between Homeland Security and the private sector.
  • Require better communication between department divisions about contractors that have been barred or suspended from receiving federal contracts.
  • Urge the department to share as much unclassified cyber threat information as possible with state, local and tribal governments.
  • Require a report within six months on possible dangers of blockchain technology, including the possibility of individuals and nations using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to fund terrorist groups.  
  • Offer cash rewards to Homeland Security employees who report waste, fraud and abuse to government watchdogs.
  • Order a report from the department’s chief human capital officer on possible improvements to a Homeland Security career rotation program that’s meant to help employees broaden their experience and expertise.

References

  1. ^ amendment (www.nextgov.com)
  2. ^ reauthorization bill (www.nextgov.com)
  3. ^ passed (www.hassan.senate.gov)
  4. ^ passed (www.nextgov.com)
  5. ^ version (www.congress.gov)
  6. ^ amendment (www.nextgov.com)
  7. ^ shifted (www.nextgov.com)
  8. ^ championed (www.nextgov.com)
  9. ^ December report (itmodernization.cio.gov)
  10. ^ cyber workforce exchange (www.harris.senate.gov)
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Army equips first unit with inflatable satellite communications

The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Transportable Tactical Command Communications new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February and March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
1 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Transportable Tactical Command Communications new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February and March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[1]
Note: Initial entry photo for illustration purposes only; Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) was not used during this event. The 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conduct airborne proficiency jump onto a drop zone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December 2017.
2 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Note: Initial entry photo for illustration purposes only; Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) was not used during this event. The 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conduct airborne proficiency jump onto a drop zone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December 2017. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) VIEW ORIGINAL[2]
Note: Initial entry photo for illustration purposes only; Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) was not used during this event. U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to the 517th Airlift Squadron, drops a heavy equipment pallet over Malemute drop zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 22, 2016 (in the same way a T2C2 Heavy system would be deployed).
3 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Note: Initial entry photo for illustration purposes only; Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) was not used during this event. U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to the 517th Airlift Squadron, drops a heavy equipment pallet over Malemute drop zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 22, 2016 (in the same way a T2C2 Heavy system would be deployed). (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena) VIEW ORIGINAL[3]
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. T2C2 is part of the Army's unified tactical network transport tool suite and enables uninterrupted mission command and secure reliable voice, video and data communications at every stage of the joint operational spectrum.
4 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. T2C2 is part of the Army’s unified tactical network transport tool suite and enables uninterrupted mission command and secure reliable voice, video and data communications at every stage of the joint operational spectrum. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[4]
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Both T2C2 Lite (1.2 meter satellite terminal) seen here and T2C2 Heavy (2.4 meter satellite terminal) provide agile robust high-bandwidth network communications and mission command. Both variants are inflatable, providing units with a larger antenna, increasing capability and bandwidth efficiency in half the size of current solutions.
5 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Both T2C2 Lite (1.2 meter satellite terminal) seen here and T2C2 Heavy (2.4 meter satellite terminal) provide agile robust high-bandwidth network communications and mission command. Both variants are inflatable, providing units with a larger antenna, increasing capability and bandwidth efficiency in half the size of current solutions. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[5]
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
6 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[6]
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
7 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[7]
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
8 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network provided Tactical Transportable Command Communications (T2C2) new equipment training to the first unit equipped with the capability (the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) in February-March 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PM Tactical NetworkPEO C3T Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL[8]

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — During initial entry missions, the Global Response Force is called to rapidly deploy and jump into potentially dangerous situations, and being armed with agile resilient network communications is critical to operational success.

In support of these and other tactical edge missions, the Army equipped its first unit — the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division — with the new inflatable satellite communications system known as Transportable Tactical Command Communications, or T2C2, to enable expeditionary mission command and situational awareness in the heart of evolving fights.

“We are the 82nd Airborne Division, the Army’s Global Response Force, and for us, expeditionary communications are essential,” said Maj. Nathan Spreitler, communications officer, or S6, for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team 82nd Airborne Division. “We have to go in light and we have to bring capability that is rapidly deployable, self-sustaining, and easy to set up, so we can have network connectivity and be operational in a matter of minutes, rather than hours or days like heavier units. I see T2C2 supporting our mission in that early entry capacity.”

When the Global Response Force first deploys, before boots even hit the ground, the Army’s Enroute Mission Command system, or EMC, provides the unit with an expeditionary command post capability in flight. This allows the unit to retain the same level of situational awareness and collaborative communications it has on the ground, during the long hours in the air.

Then once on the ground and an airfield is seized, Soldiers can rapidly set up their inflatable T2C2 satellite system, and retain continuity of mission command during the initial phase of the operation. Later in the mission, when follow-on forces fly in larger network assets, commanders can extend the battlespace using T2C2 to support company-size forward operating bases and special team-size elements that need an easily transportable network capability at the tactical edge.

“With T2C2, we have reach-back to our higher headquarters for sustainment, reporting, and to call for support when needed; the commander can receive intelligence updates and operational orders,” Spreitler said. “Any capability that gives us an edge, that gives us that communication piece before we typically would have it, improves our readiness to fight, because we have to be reactionary to a [peer or] near peer threat.”

As part of the fielding process, Product Manager Satellite Communications, assigned to Project Manager Tactical Network, together with the Communications-Electronics Command trainers, provided new equipment training in February and March at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In March 2017, the Army conducted the T2C2 operational test at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska and was then granted approval to proceed to full rate production in January 2018. The 2nd BCT, 2nd Infantry Division, at Joint Base, Lewis-McChord, Washington, will be the next unit fielded with T2C2, with fielding expected to be complete in mid-April 2018.

On the current basis of issue, the Army will field over 800 T2C2 systems across the force. Project Manager Tactical Network has already fielded easy to deploy Global Rapid Response Information Package and SIPR/NIPR Access Point satellite terminals as bridging capabilities until T2C2 can be fully fielded.

“T2C2 is packed in easily transportable hard side transit cases or soft sided cases and can be rapidly setup or torn down,” said Lt. Col. Jenny Stacy, product manager for Satellite Communications, assigned to Project Manager Tactical Network, who procures T2C2 for the Army. “The expeditionary capabilities of T2C2 improves readiness, operational flexibility and increases a unit’s ability to quickly relocate, which in turn improves the survivability of units in a tactical fight.”

As part of the Army’s network modernization strategy, the T2C2 program of record is designed to enable the service to “fight tonight.” Both T2C2 Lite (1.2 meter satellite terminal) and T2C2 Heavy (2.4 meter satellite terminal) provide agile robust high-bandwidth network communications and mission command. Both variants are inflatable, providing units with a larger antenna, increasing capability and bandwidth efficiency in half the size of current solutions. These resilient SATCOM terminals can withstand extreme weather conditions and even air drops.

T2C2 enables uninterrupted mission command and secure reliable voice, video and data communications at every stage of the joint operational spectrum. Because of its significantly higher bandwidth compared to transport volume of satellite terminals of the same size, Soldiers in remote locations can leverage T2C2 to utilize mission command systems such as Command Post of the Future (CPOF), Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P), Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS). T2C2 also enables communications systems such as whiteboard, chat, video and video teleconference, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls that require significant data throughput.

“Our mission as paratroopers is to jump in and secure a drop zone,” said Sgt. Dominic Steinel, 307th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “It’s important for us to be able to drop in and directly support the infantry Soldiers first and set up our communication devices without having to land an [Air Force] C17 to bring in the larger network transport equipment. That is really the application, to have that network and voice access instantly, instead of having to land larger pieces of equipment.”

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The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army’s mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army’s joint, coalition and other mission partners.

RELATED LINKS

References

  1. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  2. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  3. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  4. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  5. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  6. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  7. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  8. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
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The military is looking for ways to slow down 'biological time' in order to save wounded soldiers

US Army soldiers evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2016.
Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army[1]
  • The military, concerned about conflict with a more capable foe, is looking to ensure the “golden hour” for wounded troops.
  • DARPA’s latest initiative, a program looking for ways to slow down the body’s biological processes, is part of efforts to extend that period.
  • The program is still very young, but the military has spearheaded other medical advances in the past.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to change how the human body manages time in order to improve wounded soldiers’ chances of survival and recovery.

DARPA has set up the Biostasis program[2] to use molecular biology as a way to evaluate and possibly alter the speed at which living systems operate with the goal of extending the window of time between a damaging event and the collapse of those systems.

Such an extension would expand the “golden hour[3]” — the period of time between injury or infection and the first treatment that is regarded as one of the most important factors in saving a life on the battlefield.

“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager, said in a DARPA release[4].

“Within a cell, these catalysts come in the form of proteins and large molecular machines that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes,” he added.

DARPA’s Biostasis program is looking at ways to sloe the body’s biological processes to aid medical treatment.
DARPA[5]

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The Defense Department policy that ensures wounded troops are moved off the battlefield for care within the first hour after injury has been credited with the military’s nearly 98% survival rate[6], Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, said in mid-February.

But the Pentagon’s shifting focus to near-peer adversaries — ones with considerable firepower and air capabilities — have raised questions about whether the golden hour can endure in future conflicts.

The Army is looking at additional training for medics[7] to allow them to provide care beyond the initial triage stage, bridging the gap between a combat medic’s basic knowledge and that of a professional stationed at a battlefield aid station.

DARPA’s initiative, still nascent, is looking for biochemical approaches that control how cells use energy at the level of proteins, using examples from nature of organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and drastically reducing or shutting down their metabolic processes.

“If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox,” McClure-Begley said[8].

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Right now, the Biostasis program is focused on developing and testing proof-of-concept technologies. Similar Biostasis technologies could yield other medical benefits by reducing reaction times and extending the shelf life of blood and other biological products.

The US military is looking at other ways to boost the body’s ability to respond to and recovery from injury.

Earlier this year, doctors and researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium discussed regenerative medicine and its uses — in particular the possibility of regenerating limbs[9], muscles, and nerve tissue.

“We’re not quite there yet,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

US Army flight medic Sgt. Ian Bugh prepares an IV drip en route to pick up a wounded Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August 17, 2010.
Thomson Reuters

Saunders added that there had been progress in using synthetic grafts to spark the regrowth of muscle, nerve, vascular, and connective tissues.

The research discussed[10] at the symposium included efforts to use fillers to help damaged bones recover and the examination of the African spiny mouse, which has the ability to shed skin to escape predators and recover scar-free relatively quickly.

“Extremity wounds are increasingly survivable due to the implementation of body armor and damage-control surgeries,” Saunders said[11]. “[There are] many wonderful things emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

The technologies in question are far from practical application. But the military, working under wartime imperatives, has made rapid medical advances in the past. In the run-up to World War II, an Army commission secured FDA approval for a flu vaccine[12]— the first one in the US — in just two years.

References

  1. ^ Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army (www.flickr.com)
  2. ^ the Biostasis program (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ golden hour (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ release (www.darpa.mil)
  5. ^ DARPA (www.darpa.mil)
  6. ^ 98% survival rate (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ additional training for medics (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ said (www.darpa.mil)
  9. ^ regenerating limbs (www.businessinsider.com)
  10. ^ research discussed (www.businessinsider.com)
  11. ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
  12. ^ approval for a flu vaccine (www.businessinsider.com)
0

The military is looking for ways to slow down 'biological time' in order to save wounded soldiers

US Army soldiers evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2016.
Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army[1]
  • The military, concerned about conflict with a more capable foe, is looking to ensure the “golden hour” for wounded troops.
  • DARPA’s latest initiative, a program looking for ways to slow down the body’s biological processes, is part of efforts to extend that period.
  • The program is still very young, but the military has spearheaded other medical advances in the past.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to change how the human body manages time in order to improve wounded soldiers’ chances of survival and recovery.

DARPA has set up the Biostasis program[2] to use molecular biology as a way to evaluate and possibly alter the speed at which living systems operate with the goal of extending the window of time between a damaging event and the collapse of those systems.

Such an extension would expand the “golden hour[3]” — the period of time between injury or infection and the first treatment that is regarded as one of the most important factors in saving a life on the battlefield.

“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager, said in a DARPA release[4].

“Within a cell, these catalysts come in the form of proteins and large molecular machines that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes,” he added.

DARPA’s Biostasis program is looking at ways to sloe the body’s biological processes to aid medical treatment.
DARPA[5]

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The Defense Department policy that ensures wounded troops are moved off the battlefield for care within the first hour after injury has been credited with the military’s nearly 98% survival rate[6], Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, said in mid-February.

But the Pentagon’s shifting focus to near-peer adversaries — ones with considerable firepower and air capabilities — have raised questions about whether the golden hour can endure in future conflicts.

The Army is looking at additional training for medics[7] to allow them to provide care beyond the initial triage stage, bridging the gap between a combat medic’s basic knowledge and that of a professional stationed at a battlefield aid station.

DARPA’s initiative, still nascent, is looking for biochemical approaches that control how cells use energy at the level of proteins, using examples from nature of organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and drastically reducing or shutting down their metabolic processes.

“If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox,” McClure-Begley said[8].

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Right now, the Biostasis program is focused on developing and testing proof-of-concept technologies. Similar Biostasis technologies could yield other medical benefits by reducing reaction times and extending the shelf life of blood and other biological products.

The US military is looking at other ways to boost the body’s ability to respond to and recovery from injury.

Earlier this year, doctors and researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium discussed regenerative medicine and its uses — in particular the possibility of regenerating limbs[9], muscles, and nerve tissue.

“We’re not quite there yet,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

US Army flight medic Sgt. Ian Bugh prepares an IV drip en route to pick up a wounded Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August 17, 2010.
Thomson Reuters

Saunders added that there had been progress in using synthetic grafts to spark the regrowth of muscle, nerve, vascular, and connective tissues.

The research discussed[10] at the symposium included efforts to use fillers to help damaged bones recover and the examination of the African spiny mouse, which has the ability to shed skin to escape predators and recover scar-free relatively quickly.

“Extremity wounds are increasingly survivable due to the implementation of body armor and damage-control surgeries,” Saunders said[11]. “[There are] many wonderful things emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

The technologies in question are far from practical application. But the military, working under wartime imperatives, has made rapid medical advances in the past. In the run-up to World War II, an Army commission secured FDA approval for a flu vaccine[12]— the first one in the US — in just two years.

References

  1. ^ Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army (www.flickr.com)
  2. ^ the Biostasis program (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ golden hour (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ release (www.darpa.mil)
  5. ^ DARPA (www.darpa.mil)
  6. ^ 98% survival rate (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ additional training for medics (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ said (www.darpa.mil)
  9. ^ regenerating limbs (www.businessinsider.com)
  10. ^ research discussed (www.businessinsider.com)
  11. ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
  12. ^ approval for a flu vaccine (www.businessinsider.com)
0

The military is looking for ways to slow down 'biological time' in order to save wounded soldiers

US Army soldiers evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2016.
Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army[1]
  • The military, concerned about conflict with a more capable foe, is looking to ensure the “golden hour” for wounded troops.
  • DARPA’s latest initiative, a program looking for ways to slow down the body’s biological processes, is part of efforts to extend that period.
  • The program is still very young, but the military has spearheaded other medical advances in the past.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to change how the human body manages time in order to improve wounded soldiers’ chances of survival and recovery.

DARPA has set up the Biostasis program[2] to use molecular biology as a way to evaluate and possibly alter the speed at which living systems operate with the goal of extending the window of time between a damaging event and the collapse of those systems.

Such an extension would expand the “golden hour[3]” — the period of time between injury or infection and the first treatment that is regarded as one of the most important factors in saving a life on the battlefield.

“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager, said in a DARPA release[4].

“Within a cell, these catalysts come in the form of proteins and large molecular machines that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes,” he added.

DARPA’s Biostasis program is looking at ways to sloe the body’s biological processes to aid medical treatment.
DARPA[5]

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The Defense Department policy that ensures wounded troops are moved off the battlefield for care within the first hour after injury has been credited with the military’s nearly 98% survival rate[6], Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, said in mid-February.

But the Pentagon’s shifting focus to near-peer adversaries — ones with considerable firepower and air capabilities — have raised questions about whether the golden hour can endure in future conflicts.

The Army is looking at additional training for medics[7] to allow them to provide care beyond the initial triage stage, bridging the gap between a combat medic’s basic knowledge and that of a professional stationed at a battlefield aid station.

DARPA’s initiative, still nascent, is looking for biochemical approaches that control how cells use energy at the level of proteins, using examples from nature of organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and drastically reducing or shutting down their metabolic processes.

“If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox,” McClure-Begley said[8].

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Right now, the Biostasis program is focused on developing and testing proof-of-concept technologies. Similar Biostasis technologies could yield other medical benefits by reducing reaction times and extending the shelf life of blood and other biological products.

The US military is looking at other ways to boost the body’s ability to respond to and recovery from injury.

Earlier this year, doctors and researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium discussed regenerative medicine and its uses — in particular the possibility of regenerating limbs[9], muscles, and nerve tissue.

“We’re not quite there yet,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

US Army flight medic Sgt. Ian Bugh prepares an IV drip en route to pick up a wounded Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August 17, 2010.
Thomson Reuters

Saunders added that there had been progress in using synthetic grafts to spark the regrowth of muscle, nerve, vascular, and connective tissues.

The research discussed[10] at the symposium included efforts to use fillers to help damaged bones recover and the examination of the African spiny mouse, which has the ability to shed skin to escape predators and recover scar-free relatively quickly.

“Extremity wounds are increasingly survivable due to the implementation of body armor and damage-control surgeries,” Saunders said[11]. “[There are] many wonderful things emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

The technologies in question are far from practical application. But the military, working under wartime imperatives, has made rapid medical advances in the past. In the run-up to World War II, an Army commission secured FDA approval for a flu vaccine[12]— the first one in the US — in just two years.

References

  1. ^ Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army (www.flickr.com)
  2. ^ the Biostasis program (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ golden hour (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ release (www.darpa.mil)
  5. ^ DARPA (www.darpa.mil)
  6. ^ 98% survival rate (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ additional training for medics (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ said (www.darpa.mil)
  9. ^ regenerating limbs (www.businessinsider.com)
  10. ^ research discussed (www.businessinsider.com)
  11. ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
  12. ^ approval for a flu vaccine (www.businessinsider.com)
0

The military is looking for ways to slow down 'biological time' in order to save wounded soldiers

US Army soldiers evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2016.
Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army[1]
  • The military, concerned about conflict with a more capable foe, is looking to ensure the “golden hour” for wounded troops.
  • DARPA’s latest initiative, a program looking for ways to slow down the body’s biological processes, is part of efforts to extend that period.
  • The program is still very young, but the military has spearheaded other medical advances in the past.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to change how the human body manages time in order to improve wounded soldiers’ chances of survival and recovery.

DARPA has set up the Biostasis program[2] to use molecular biology as a way to evaluate and possibly alter the speed at which living systems operate with the goal of extending the window of time between a damaging event and the collapse of those systems.

Such an extension would expand the “golden hour[3]” — the period of time between injury or infection and the first treatment that is regarded as one of the most important factors in saving a life on the battlefield.

“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager, said in a DARPA release[4].

“Within a cell, these catalysts come in the form of proteins and large molecular machines that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes,” he added.

DARPA’s Biostasis program is looking at ways to sloe the body’s biological processes to aid medical treatment.
DARPA[5]

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The Defense Department policy that ensures wounded troops are moved off the battlefield for care within the first hour after injury has been credited with the military’s nearly 98% survival rate[6], Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, said in mid-February.

But the Pentagon’s shifting focus to near-peer adversaries — ones with considerable firepower and air capabilities — have raised questions about whether the golden hour can endure in future conflicts.

The Army is looking at additional training for medics[7] to allow them to provide care beyond the initial triage stage, bridging the gap between a combat medic’s basic knowledge and that of a professional stationed at a battlefield aid station.

DARPA’s initiative, still nascent, is looking for biochemical approaches that control how cells use energy at the level of proteins, using examples from nature of organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and drastically reducing or shutting down their metabolic processes.

“If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox,” McClure-Begley said[8].

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Right now, the Biostasis program is focused on developing and testing proof-of-concept technologies. Similar Biostasis technologies could yield other medical benefits by reducing reaction times and extending the shelf life of blood and other biological products.

The US military is looking at other ways to boost the body’s ability to respond to and recovery from injury.

Earlier this year, doctors and researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium discussed regenerative medicine and its uses — in particular the possibility of regenerating limbs[9], muscles, and nerve tissue.

“We’re not quite there yet,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

US Army flight medic Sgt. Ian Bugh prepares an IV drip en route to pick up a wounded Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August 17, 2010.
Thomson Reuters

Saunders added that there had been progress in using synthetic grafts to spark the regrowth of muscle, nerve, vascular, and connective tissues.

The research discussed[10] at the symposium included efforts to use fillers to help damaged bones recover and the examination of the African spiny mouse, which has the ability to shed skin to escape predators and recover scar-free relatively quickly.

“Extremity wounds are increasingly survivable due to the implementation of body armor and damage-control surgeries,” Saunders said[11]. “[There are] many wonderful things emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

The technologies in question are far from practical application. But the military, working under wartime imperatives, has made rapid medical advances in the past. In the run-up to World War II, an Army commission secured FDA approval for a flu vaccine[12]— the first one in the US — in just two years.

References

  1. ^ Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army (www.flickr.com)
  2. ^ the Biostasis program (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ golden hour (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ release (www.darpa.mil)
  5. ^ DARPA (www.darpa.mil)
  6. ^ 98% survival rate (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ additional training for medics (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ said (www.darpa.mil)
  9. ^ regenerating limbs (www.businessinsider.com)
  10. ^ research discussed (www.businessinsider.com)
  11. ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
  12. ^ approval for a flu vaccine (www.businessinsider.com)
0

The military is looking for ways to slow down 'biological time' in order to save wounded soldiers

US Army soldiers evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2016.
Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army[1]
  • The military, concerned about conflict with a more capable foe, is looking to ensure the “golden hour” for wounded troops.
  • DARPA’s latest initiative, a program looking for ways to slow down the body’s biological processes, is part of efforts to extend that period.
  • The program is still very young, but the military has spearheaded other medical advances in the past.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to change how the human body manages time in order to improve wounded soldiers’ chances of survival and recovery.

DARPA has set up the Biostasis program[2] to use molecular biology as a way to evaluate and possibly alter the speed at which living systems operate with the goal of extending the window of time between a damaging event and the collapse of those systems.

Such an extension would expand the “golden hour[3]” — the period of time between injury or infection and the first treatment that is regarded as one of the most important factors in saving a life on the battlefield.

“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager, said in a DARPA release[4].

“Within a cell, these catalysts come in the form of proteins and large molecular machines that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes,” he added.

DARPA’s Biostasis program is looking at ways to sloe the body’s biological processes to aid medical treatment.
DARPA[5]

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The Defense Department policy that ensures wounded troops are moved off the battlefield for care within the first hour after injury has been credited with the military’s nearly 98% survival rate[6], Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, said in mid-February.

But the Pentagon’s shifting focus to near-peer adversaries — ones with considerable firepower and air capabilities — have raised questions about whether the golden hour can endure in future conflicts.

The Army is looking at additional training for medics[7] to allow them to provide care beyond the initial triage stage, bridging the gap between a combat medic’s basic knowledge and that of a professional stationed at a battlefield aid station.

DARPA’s initiative, still nascent, is looking for biochemical approaches that control how cells use energy at the level of proteins, using examples from nature of organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and drastically reducing or shutting down their metabolic processes.

“If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox,” McClure-Begley said[8].

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Right now, the Biostasis program is focused on developing and testing proof-of-concept technologies. Similar Biostasis technologies could yield other medical benefits by reducing reaction times and extending the shelf life of blood and other biological products.

The US military is looking at other ways to boost the body’s ability to respond to and recovery from injury.

Earlier this year, doctors and researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium discussed regenerative medicine and its uses — in particular the possibility of regenerating limbs[9], muscles, and nerve tissue.

“We’re not quite there yet,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

US Army flight medic Sgt. Ian Bugh prepares an IV drip en route to pick up a wounded Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August 17, 2010.
Thomson Reuters

Saunders added that there had been progress in using synthetic grafts to spark the regrowth of muscle, nerve, vascular, and connective tissues.

The research discussed[10] at the symposium included efforts to use fillers to help damaged bones recover and the examination of the African spiny mouse, which has the ability to shed skin to escape predators and recover scar-free relatively quickly.

“Extremity wounds are increasingly survivable due to the implementation of body armor and damage-control surgeries,” Saunders said[11]. “[There are] many wonderful things emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

The technologies in question are far from practical application. But the military, working under wartime imperatives, has made rapid medical advances in the past. In the run-up to World War II, an Army commission secured FDA approval for a flu vaccine[12]— the first one in the US — in just two years.

References

  1. ^ Sgt. Stephen J. Schmitz/US Army (www.flickr.com)
  2. ^ the Biostasis program (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ golden hour (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ release (www.darpa.mil)
  5. ^ DARPA (www.darpa.mil)
  6. ^ 98% survival rate (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ additional training for medics (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ said (www.darpa.mil)
  9. ^ regenerating limbs (www.businessinsider.com)
  10. ^ research discussed (www.businessinsider.com)
  11. ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
  12. ^ approval for a flu vaccine (www.businessinsider.com)
0

The future battlefield: Army, Marines prepare for 'massive' fight in …

In the midst of the Vietnam War[1], U.S. troops were rocked by an offensive that saw conventional and irregular enemies sweep over territories and entrench themselves in areas of South Vietnam[2] previously untouched by the war.

What would follow would be the most intense urban combat[3] U.S. forces had faced since World War II.

A half century later, lessons from the Battle of Hue City[4] are still being absorbed by today’s warfighters.

Much has changed, but much has remained the same. As Bing West, a Marine combat veteran and former assistant secretary of defense wrote, when comparing Hue and the battle for Mosul[5], Iraq, “urban warfare remains characterized by slow, massive destruction.”

For a long time, both the Marines and Army failed to do anything substantial to prepare for large-scale urban combat — other than to avoid it whenever possible.

But both services are now updating their urban operations doctrine for the first time in years, and their leaders, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley[6] and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller[7], have publicly pushed for more urban-focused efforts.

More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, according to a 2016 United Nations report. That’s only expected to rise in coming decades.

The U.S. military spent a decade fighting in Baghdad, a city with a population of about 6.5 million people. In slightly more than a decade there will be 37 cities that are two to four times that size.

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With ongoing tensions in North Korea, any attack would likely include devastating effects on Seoul, a megacity of 24 million people.

Encroachments in Europe by Russia in the Baltic region directly threaten the capitals of three nations — Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; Vilnius, Lithuania.

And growing urban areas in Africa, such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Mogadishu, Somalia, where U.S. troops deployed in the early 1990s, show a different face to urban combat.

Troops have many more tools in their hands than they did decades ago.

At the same time, some of the more effective means by which troops won back Hue — flamethrowers, CS gas and devastating short-range, vehicle-mounted recoilless rifle systems to complement tanks — are no longer in the arsenal.

While there is much work being done, some are skeptical about when and how that will reach troops.

“We can update doctrine all we want, soldiers don’t read doctrine unless there’s a forcing function,” said Maj. John Spencer, a career infantry officer who rose from the enlisted ranks.

For Spencer, the forcing function will be when the Army dedicates training centers, materiel and staff to becoming experts at urban warfighting.

Air Force Senior Airman Adam La Barr, a military working dog handler, walks Frisco through the New Baghdad market to search for explosives while Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Legault provides security during a patrol in February 2007. The urban landscape of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, posed challenges for soldiers fighting there, but it pales in comparison to a megacity like Seoul, South Korea. (James J. Lee/Staff)

Air Force Senior Airman Adam La Barr, a military working dog handler, walks Frisco through the New Baghdad market to search for explosives while Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Legault provides security during a patrol in February 2007. The urban landscape of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, posed challenges for soldiers fighting there, but it pales in comparison to a megacity like Seoul, South Korea. (James J. Lee/Staff)

Air Force Senior Airman Adam La Barr, a military working dog handler, walks Frisco through the New Baghdad market to search for explosives while Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Legault provides security during a patrol in February 2007. The urban landscape of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, posed challenges for soldiers fighting there, but it pales in comparison to a megacity like Seoul, South Korea. (James J. Lee/Staff)

Renewed Focus

Milley has said the Army is not ready to fight in megacities. He has characterized recent and current urban operations, including fighting in Aleppo in Syria, and Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq as “previews” of future conflict.

Those fights, while bloody, costly and destructive, hardly reach the scale of a megacity — Mosul is not equal to a neighborhood in Seoul, Milley has said.

In an urban fight, troops will have to move faster and more often, he said.

“If you stay stationary for any length of time, say more than a couple of hours, you are probably going to get killed.”

Long logistics trains won’t be available. And targeting must be more precise even than it is now.

“We can’t go out there and just slaughter people,” Milley said. “That’s not going to work.”

As for the Marines, Neller is pushing them back to ships and the littoral, or near-shore, contested area — and, effectively, closer to cities.

But, for most of the careers of those two men and their peers, attention on urban fighting has been sporadic or focused on lower level tactical work such as room clearing exercises.

Doctrine for urban fighting long consisted of avoiding cities at all costs or destroying everything in the path to defeat the enemy. Neither is a realistic option for U.S. forces in dense urban fighting.

Experts interviewed for this article roundly agreed that neither service is sufficiently prepared for operational or strategic-level urban combat.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment provide security in a simulated combat town during the culminating event of Division School’s Urban Leaders Course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Lance Cpl. Danielle Rodrigues/Marine Corps)

Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment provide security in a simulated combat town during the culminating event of Division School’s Urban Leaders Course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Lance Cpl. Danielle Rodrigues/Marine Corps)

Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment provide security in a simulated combat town during the culminating event of Division School’s Urban Leaders Course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Lance Cpl. Danielle Rodrigues/Marine Corps)

Mark Bowden is the author of two deep studies of U.S. urban battles: “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” and “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.”

He believes that, if conducted properly and with buy-in from the public, those fights can be fought, if necessary.

“As a rule, if you’re going to commit the military to war somewhere in the world, you have to lay the groundwork,” Bowden said. “You have to be honest with people and explain why it’s necessary… that’s your best chance at building a more enduring public support.”

Returning attention to the urban fight is not a new idea.

Retired Col. Russell Glenn now serves as the director for plans and policy, deputy chief of staff for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. In 1993, while on a temporary assignment to the RAND Corporation, he chose urban operations as a research topic. He was told there wasn’t much interest in that research.

Later that year, Army Rangers and Delta Force operators were caught in the bloody Battle of Mogadishu. Nineteen U.S. service members were killed and 73 wounded. The fight led to the withdrawal of U.S. and U.N. forces.

Then, people were interested.

Then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak unveiled his concept of the three-block war and the strategic corporal, which pushed decision making down to the lowest levels of the noncommissioned officer corps.

That thinking wasn’t far removed from Marine Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas’ experience in Hue, where he was awarded a Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, while a company commander.

“Once you go house to house, once you go room to room, it is a squad leader’s war,” Christmas said. “It’s up close and personal. …You see the guy you kill.”

Both the Army and Marines maintained that focus until a more pressing matter: the 9/11 attacks and subsequent responses, which drew resources into the combat operations that continue today.

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

Former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno directed urban operations be a focus area for his Strategic Studies Group in 2013. He had TRADOC make megacities part of its future study plan.

Soldiers with the Asymmetric Warfare Group have looked at how a brigade commander deals with an urban environment by reviewing urban operations from 1980 until 2016, as well as recent analysis of the Mosul battle.

Maj. Christopher De Ruyter, AWG’s operations officer, added that whatever the timeframe or location, urban operations are “manpower intensive, time consuming and a lot of blood is spilled.”

Increased use of manpower and logistics has not changed. Marine veterans of the battle who contributed to a “lessons learned” study on Hue said they used 10 times the amount of ammunition fighting in the city as in the countryside.

Some key lessons AWG is pushing forward are ways to find a “common operating picture” across the battlefield so disparate units know what’s going on in real time, and training in analog methods for when soldiers find themselves in a degraded communications environment.

“I do think that evolution of tech and the role that tech plays cannot be downplayed. Changes the nature of the battlefield just by the way information flows,” De Ruyter said.

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

(Devan Feeney/Staff)

Emerging Technology

U.S. forces have long held a wide margin of technological superiority over their foes, from precision-guided weapons to sensor systems and drone surveillance capabilities.

Off-the-shelf technologies such as commercially available drones, bomb-making plans shared on the Internet and social media have given low-level, nonstate actors ways to disrupt U.S. technology.

Marine Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge, deputy commanding general of operations for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Army Times that enemy forces in Mosul adapted drones to drop 40mm grenades from above and used advanced vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices to deter Iraqi forces early in the fighting.

He also credited Islamic State fighters with running a sophisticated information operations mission.

Some Iraqi solutions were low-tech, such as bulldozers to clear pathways and leaflet drops along with TV announcements to reach the civilian population.

For some, the answer to urban complexities is more technology and data in the hands of U.S. troops.

Department of Defense research programs and industry partnerships are working with drone swarm technology, drone delivery to reduce logistics chains, increased electronic jamming of enemy sensors and networks, and pulling data from every corner of the battlefield into a digestible form.

But there are varying views on technology’s role in urban combat.

As West wrote for The Atlantic last year, “Urban battle will remain a slugfest, with the basic ingredient remaining heavy doses of high explosives. No technology is emerging to replace that.”

Infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stand ready to fire their M240L machine gun. The machine gun crew provided support during squad room-clearing procedures at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (Staff Sgt. Armando Limon/Army)

Infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stand ready to fire their M240L machine gun. The machine gun crew provided support during squad room-clearing procedures at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (Staff Sgt. Armando Limon/Army)

Infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stand ready to fire their M240L machine gun. The machine gun crew provided support during squad room-clearing procedures at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (Staff Sgt. Armando Limon/Army)

Army Col. Douglas Winton has argued in his U.S. Army War College dissertation that urban combat does not substantially degrade the military capability of a superior force — so long as the superior force has sufficient political will and preparation.

There are steep learning curves, though, when a force is not prepared.

David Johnson, a retired Army colonel who is now a principal researcher for RAND, recounted interviews with a brigade commander in Baghdad who lost seven Strykers in seven days before moving Bradleys and M1 Abrams tanks into the fight.

Johnson said simple equipment considerations pay huge dividends in an urban fight. Tracked vehicles, while heavier than wheeled, produce less ground pressure, which is important on bridges.

Tracked vehicles can also make tighter turns in narrower urban lanes and don’t get stuck as easily as wheeled vehicles.

There also are some non-weapon tech tools that are already available and simply need to be applied.

Glenn advocates maintaining urban databases to watch the flow of a city and train data miners to regularly update data on key cities.

He noted in a 2016 article for Small Wars Journal that geo-profiling can track patterns of terrorist movement and attacks, and cell phone data was used to analyze and slow malaria outbreaks.

But those advances also bring with them their own challenges.

Glenn said the information needed to “feed what is sure to be a voracious intelligence beast” will take enormous amounts of manpower and resources.

Changing the Force

Even in 2018, Army and Marine formations are organized and equipped for a rural rather than urban fight.

Milley advocated last year for building “small formations that are networked and can leverage Air Force and naval-delivered joint fires” to work in dense urban areas. They will likely be a company- or battalion-sized element, he said.

And new formations do take shape when the chief wants them. The Security Force Assistance Brigade is heading to Afghanistan this spring — Milley unveiled the SFAB concept in mid-2016.

Spencer, who also heads the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, wants to see more dedicated facilities and experts focused on urban fighting.

“We still do not have units that are even remotely prepared to operate in megacities,” Spencer said.

He noted that the Army has courses to deal with the desert, jungle and mountain terrains.

“Yet, despite conducting operations in cities for the past fourteen years, there is still no school for urban environments,” Spencer wrote in an article posted at the MWI’s Urban Warfare Project.

Spencer pushes for a Megacities Unit, a brigade combat team of 5,000 soldiers with three battalions of mobile infantry and one battalion each of the following: armor, fires, engineer, aviation, support, military intelligence, cyber electromagnetic activities, and explosive ordnance.

He sees the new unit as the “primary learning organization” for the Army and at the forefront of development of planning and doctrine for megacity fighting.

“If you don’t build experts, then you get no change,” Spencer said.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, practice entering buildings during an urban terrain exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala/Marine Corps)

Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, practice entering buildings during an urban terrain exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala/Marine Corps)

Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, practice entering buildings during an urban terrain exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala/Marine Corps)

Some see other ways to get there.

Capt. Zachary Griffiths, a Special Forces officer and West Point instructor, wrote on the Urban Warfare Project that the Army should adopt urban combat leader courses in each division.

But where will they train?

There are urban training complexes at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center at 29 Palms, California.

But the most advanced center in the United States, Spencer said, is the Indiana Army National Guard’s Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.

It is a 1,000-acre facility with 68 buildings, a reservoir, tunnel system and nine miles of roads.

But that still is not enough, Spencer said. Baghdad in 2003 was more complex and dense than the most advanced centers.

Despite the fits and starts of urban combat preparation, changes in doctrine and an increased focus from top leaders has some encouraged that actual transformation can occur.

“I think it’s beginning to happen,” Johnson said. “Gen. Milley has said in numerous forums, ‘this is the area the Army’s got to optimize for.’ That’s the tectonic movement if you will. The chief says it, it must be important.”

References

  1. ^ Vietnam War (www.militarytimes.com)
  2. ^ South Vietnam (www.militarytimes.com)
  3. ^ urban combat (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ Battle of Hue City (www.militarytimes.com)
  5. ^ battle for Mosul (www.militarytimes.com)
  6. ^ Gen. Mark Milley (www.armytimes.com)
  7. ^ Gen. Robert Neller (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ Army Chief: Soldiers Must Be Ready To Fight in ‘Megacities’ (www.defensenews.com)
  9. ^ Soldiers, Marines rely on PSYOP, learning a city’s rhythm when training for urban warfare (www.militarytimes.com)
  10. ^ Using lessons learned, soldiers and Marines are training for urban combat (www.militarytimes.com)