Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of the U.S. Army Futures Command, listens to his Soldier at the event.
US Army Futures Command holds expo on JBM-HH
Showcases what battlefield will look like using technology
Elements of U.S. Army Futures Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology were on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Tuesday and showcased new technology that transforms the future of fighting on the battlefield for the Army. The two organizations held a media opportunity where the key message was that their partnership is making the Army more lethal, capable and efficient.
Leaders announced that U.S. Army Futures Command will be fully operational capable by July 31.
Dr. Bruce Jette, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, was present to showcase how the acquisition community contributes to the operational and requirements development process. His organization continues its role of oversight, management, policy, and, particularly with respect to the acquisition function, control of the broader materiel development and sustainment process.
“One of the things that I think is most important is just how closely the acquisition side and the Army Futures Command have been working together,” Jette said. “We have put our resources and efforts against those things that the Army has decided is the most critical.”
Gen. John M. “Mike” Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, was also in attendance. His command builds a team to streamline the Army’s modernization enterprise under a single command.
“His command will enhance efficiency and effectiveness in delivering the technology necessary to maintain the Army’s competitive advantage,” said Robyn Mack outreach and engagement chief communications for U.S. Army Futures Command.
The event provided journalists an opportunity to view and learn more about the future of Army modernization. The different technologies displayed ranged from Future Vertical Lift to Enhanced Night Vision Goggles to the Integrated Tactical Network and more.
“Today’s event is designed to show you, and others in the beltway, how we’re already making a difference for our future Soldiers now and how a lack of funding can impact the work we are doing,” Murray said.
While at the Futures Command event, the common discussion was Soldier Touchpoints. This is the real time, immediate feedback that a Soldier provides where he or she explain how new equipment or an advancement of certain technology allows him or her to say, “This is what I need versus what I don’t need.”
Sgt. 1st Class William Roth demonstrated how to use the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular. He explained that it remodernizes the next generation of Soldiers with night vision. The goggle allows Soldiers to enhance situational awareness and allows the ability to maneuver during limited visibility.
“Feedback we’ve had with Soldiers is that they are ready and willing to take this overseas right now,” Roth said.
He said the goggles took less than a year to develop, which he said is better compared to how long it used to take to develop similar equipment.
“Now that we have Futures Command and the cross-function teams out there, our purpose is to cut short the evolution of process in order to get this equipment in Soldier’s hands faster,” Roth said.
Roth said that the battery pack hooked to the helmet for the goggles require four L91 lithium batteries. He said the helmet, the battery pack and the goggle are a little over five pounds on the head, but the Soldiers do not worry about the extra weight.
“All the positive feedback from the Soldiers is that they’re willing to risk more weight on the head in order to have the capabilities of the equipment,” Roth said.
He pointed out how the cross-function teams have not used the goggles in an operational situation, but they have been used in subterranean, mountainous and urban environments. The teams have noticed how efficient and faster the Soldiers are in their roles. This has allowed an increase in the confidence level between an older model of the goggles versus the ENVG-B.
Roth’s proof of this is driver training with a young Soldier.
“For driver training, we gave a Soldier the older model and he drove slowly with the goggles,” Roth explained. “He put the newer goggles on and we actually had to tell him to slow down.”
Another example of Soldier Touchpoints is with the Integrated Tactical Network.
Justine Ruggio, strategic communications advisor, network cross-functional team, said that this immediate feedback from Soldiers allows for the opportunity to expeditiously adjust and react to meet operational needs. She said in the past this was not common. In the past, there would be design requirements, field test the item and the product would sometimes not reach operational needs.
Ruggio said that Soldier Touchpoints are used in Integrated Tactical Network. It is not a new network, it merges programs of record with commercial off-the-shelf technology to build a more resilient tactical network.
Staff Sgt. Jason Roseberry, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, talked about his experience. His gear contained a radio, a Galaxy phone and more, but these items help track data, while using technology that doesn’t require much training.
When he was issued his radio, as an S-2 noncommissioned officer in charge of an intelligence shop, the radio was secure, but not classified which he said worked better because he saw differences immediately.
“This allowed me to use it immediately and daily,” Roseberry said.
He said traditionally with his other classified equipment, he had to schedule when he was to use it and always had to turn it back in, but using the radio as unclassified made life easier. The radio can be used for voice, but the majority of the use is to track data.
The Galaxy phone that was attached to his gear allowed him to see where his Soldiers are on the battlefield. They actually show up on the map on the phone as a blue dot for real live tracking.
Roseberry said his Soldiers were given the Galaxy phone two days before an exercise and by the end of the 18-hour bus ride, his Soldiers knew how to use the equipment. They knew how to use it, most of the apps and because the Galaxy is a commercial product that is used in everyday life he said.
“No formal training was needed, I did not have to crack open a manual,” Roseberry said.
During training, Futures Command Soldiers have bridged the gap on how using current technology is relevant in dense terrain and wooden environments.
Pentagram Staff Writer Katrina Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.