"After Future" Technology Development Cornerstone of U.S.—Germany Military Collaboration Talks
April 16, 2013
The U.S. Army and Germany's ministry of defence's senior executives that are responsible for research and technology programs met at Aberdeen Proving Ground on April 9 as part of ongoing discussions to expand collaborative research efforts to adopt or develop technological capabilities to meet far-reaching future military needs.
Mary J. Miller, the U.S. Army's deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, sketched details concerning the pervasive challenges the U.S. Army faces in force protection, tactical intelligence, logistics, training, and maneuverability, and how collaboration with a coalition of industry, U.S. military, universities, and international partners creates opportunities to exploit novel scientific opportunities and access to fundamental science and technology solutions.
She said the Army continues to "face a complicated scenario" of splitting its attention between science and technology capabilities currently in existence, and forecasting warfighter needs for future combat. "Our investments predominately reside in the future force," and that the U.S. Army's technology base can solve the urgencies of warfare.
U.S. Army research and technology advisors stationed in Germany facilitate fundamental research grants with European academic, government, and industry representatives, which create American military access to foreign technologies and material solutions. Science and engineering knowledge and technical capabilities in areas relevant to the overall U.S. Army mission are uncovered by the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command's (RDECOM) International Technology Center in Frankfurt.
Beyond the state of the art, Soldier equipment has to be agile and adaptable for different operational scenarios, American and German Army technology leaders agree, but Germany's approach to technology solutions resides at the defense – rather than service – level, unlike in the U.S.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Czirwitzky, Ph.D., the research and technology and international affairs division head in Germany's Ministry of Defence, said his office looks for technological capabilities that can be applied across systems and programs to achieve military missions and goals regardless of which service – German Air Force, Navy, or Army – created the capability.
But that amalgamation exists in part because of Germany's smaller military footprint in comparison to America's. The U.S. diversity of missions and sheer size of budgets and military forces account for differences in the program management of major technology capabilities. At the working level, however, bench scientists and researchers know their counterparts at other services and share intellectual property to arrive at solutions that can be applied across the Department of Defense.
"Partnership between our allies important"
Dale Ormond, RDECOM director, told the group that the more the U.S. Army research and technology community collaborates with U.S. allies, the better served the military will be. He said collaboration to meet modern warfare requirements relies on coalitions, and the more American that can access diverse knowledge to contribute to the achievement of interoperability is a wise investment.
"Common approaches and common equipment means greater combat power. The more we take advantage of technical expertise, the better we will be," he said.
RDECOM's U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), where the majority of the two-day session will occur, has many international agreements with Germany spanning a wide range of technologies and potential future capabilities. These arrangements include sharing of information, as well as specific research, development, technology, and engineering projects to achieve mutual goals and objectives.
Within that framework, ARL is working with Germany on scalable effects of weapons and modeling and simulation of human information processing in network-centric warfare technologies.
ARL and Germany are also developing robust optical imagers under a hyperspectral imaging program that could lead to advancements in the standoff detection of chemical and biological agents, as well as targets and backgrounds.
The German Liaison Office for Defense Material, located in Reston, Va., maintains a close eye on U.S. and Canadian technology for use in its armed forces. According to the Germany's Federal Foreign Office website, more than 1,600 members of the armaments section have been deployed for a year with the U.S. armed forces under various exchange programmes since 1964, and more than 160 members of the U.S. armaments section have already assumed responsibilities at Federal Armed Forces facilities. The Federal Foreign Office represents Germany's interests to the world.
RDECOM is the Army's technology leader and largest technology developer. It provides the Army with an organic research and development capability. It employs more than 17,000 Soldiers, civilian employees and direct contractors, many of whom are the Army's leading science and engineering experts in their fields.
A fundamental characteristic of this workforce is the focus on the Soldier. Whether providing technology solutions to meet current operational needs or developing breakthrough technologies for the next generation, RDECOM stands at the forefront of what the Soldier eats, wears, fires, flies, or drives.
The U.S. Army's Research and Technology program spans 16 laboratories and centers, with more than 11,000 scientists and engineers and a yearly budget of just over $2 billion dedicated to empowering, unburdening, and protecting Soldiers.