ARL Technology Recognized as One of Army's Top 10 Inventions
November 23, 2009
A U.S. Army Research Laboratory team was recognized at the U.S. Army Greatest 2008 Inventions ceremony in September for creating armor that has saved lives on the battlefield.
Active duty Soldiers selected the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Armor Weight Reduction Spiral Program as one of the top ten Army inventions for its impact on Army capabilities, potential benefit outside the Army and inventiveness.
"This award reflects the voice of the Soldiers," said Lt. Gen. James Pillsbury, Army Materiel Command's deputy commander, to the group of scientists and support staff at the ceremony. "Each and every one of those (inventions) is helping Soldiers survive."
Soldiers' casualty rates from improvised explosive devices sharply increased at the end of 2007, and ARL materials researchers knew available armor would be too heavy to put on ground vehicles. The team, along with other agencies and industry partners, created new, lighter weight armor in an extremely "aggressive" timeline of just half a year.
Most at the ceremony agreed that the biggest impact came from the stronger, light weight MRAP armor, and casualty rates dropped significantly after the MRAP was fielded.
According to Dr. Scott Schoenfeld, chief of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate's Materials Research Branch, the data coming from theater reflects the protection the armored vehicles give to Warfighters, many of whom can now walk away from their vehicles after an IED attack.
"We used to get reports like (one Soldier killed in action) and now the reports are more like vehicle recovered" said Schoenfeld. "In some cases they can even continue the mission."
Although the data is encouraging, Schoenfeld said hearing the personal stories of Soldiers who survived attacks is the most rewarding part of his job.
Maj. Mike Hammond is a three-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who attended the conference as Pillsbury's aide-de-camp. He said it was a great opportunity to meet the scientists who were behind the MRAP armor that kept many Soldiers in his unit alive.
"I'm a big fan of the MRAP. I've seen it in action. It did what it was supposed to do," said Hammond. "I don't think we could exist without them (scientists)."