Technical Competencies

As outlined in the Executive Summary to the CCDC ARL Technical Strategy, ARL uses seven foundational research competencies to organize its intellectual framework for planning technical strategy and synchronizing resources, people, and infrastructure. The foundational research competencies consist of Ballistics Sciences, Computational Sciences, Human Sciences, Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, Network and Information Sciences, Propulsion Sciences, and Protection Sciences.  Embedded within the overarching competencies is the Extramural Basic Research program which, in turn, is supported the global S&T enterprise through programs such as PECASE, DURIP, MURI, UARCs, the Open Campus business model, and direct engagement through our Regional Sites.

This document defines each of ARL’s Foundational Research Competencies as an appendix to the Army Research Laboratory Strategy.  It is intended to provide additional insight into the technical areas that ARL believes are critical to the Army’s future vision for Multi-Domain Operations.  To further focus the S&T essential to ARL’s highest priority work, the research supporting ARL’s ten Essential Research Programs (ERPs) is identified within this document.  The ERPs are ARL’s flagship research programs that cross multiple competencies to proactively close gaps in knowledge and warfighter capability that could not be achieved by subsets of individual research efforts alone. The ERPs drive a program that is connected, cumulative, and converged on producing and outcome with a sense of urgency, while at the same time empowering research staff to be creative, technically bold, and entrepreneurial.  Whereas the Foundational Research Competencies core mission narrative provides a comprehensive view of the S&T portfolio within ARL, the ERP Funded designation provides strategic insight into the research that the ARM must do to enable this “essential” focus area.  Each Competency narrative provides the following:

  • Articulates a high-level overview of the technical landscape
  • Illustrates the taxonomic breakdown of the competency
  • Provides a Technical POC for the research
  • Describes the technical areas constituting the competency
  • Delineates funding as either Core Mission or ERP
  • Defines ARL’s S&T Footprint in these areas including the laboratory’s posture relative to the S&T area – whether we will LEAD, COLLABORATE, or WATCH.

LEAD is defined as a posture in which ARL maintains considerable in-house expertise, substantive infrastructure, and devotes significant investment based on unique Army needs. ARL leads in areas when it is imperative and when only we will or can.

COLLABORATE is defined as a posture in which ARL establishes an interdependent partnership with another Army S&T organization, DoD S&T agency, other government agency (OGA), academic institution, or industrial interest to pursue Army-relevant research goals. Through these partnerships, ARL provides its research partner with access to unique infrastructure, technological advances, and in-house expertise that significantly influence the research direction of the collaboration. Collaborating allows ARL’s in-house technical experts to exploit technologies that they may not have otherwise been afforded the opportunity to develop.

WATCH is defined as a posture in which ARL maintains high vigilance in monitoring emerging technologies and corresponding R&D efforts within industry, academia, and international markets. ARL accomplishes this through active engagement in the national and international scientific dialog to remain poised to react to developments that make the area a viable approach towards Army capability challenges. Technology areas that are typically watched include those without unique Army requirements and where the Army can allow technology development to proceed with limited Army S&T involvement.