ALOG News Logo

ALOG NEWS

 

JOINT VISION 2020 RELEASED

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry H. Shelton, released Joint Vision (JV) 2020 in May. The new document retains the basic structure of JV2010 and the four operational concepts of dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full spectrum dominance. It incorporates lessons learned from recent operations and extends the vision to address the full spectrum of military operations, alliance and coalition operations, interagency and international organization operations, and emerging challenges and opportunities.

JV2020 focuses on three factors as central to success in the four operational concepts: interoperability, innovation, and decision superiority. Joint force, multinational, and interagency interoperability are needed for success across the full range of military operations; broad-based innovation is the key to transforming the capabilities of the joint force; and decision superiority will be achieved through information superiority.

JV2020 envisions a joint force capable of full spectrum dominance that is persuasive in peace, decisive in war, and preeminent in any form of conflict. It underscores that both the complex military operations of the future and the transformation of the force today will require people of exceptional talent, mental agility, and dedication.

 

MTMC ANNOUNCES RESHAPING, MOVE

Major General Kenneth L. Privratsky, commander of the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), has approved a proposal that will standardize most of MTMC's military transportation units worldwide. The proposed reorganization will focus on MTMC's twin overseas command groups—the 598th Transportation Group at Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the 599th Transportation Group at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii—and on its operational battalions, companies, and detachments in the United States and around the world.

The two command groups will be reorganized to near-similar structures and job titles. In the United States, one of the transportation groups under the Deployment Support Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia—the 596th Transportation Group at Beaumont, Texas—will convert to a battalion. The 597th Transportation Group at Sunny Point, North Carolina, will remain.

The battalions will be reorganized into standard 26-member organizations, and their subordinate company and detachment units will be realigned. The 842d Transportation Battalion at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, will convert to a company. The 956th Transportation Company at Anchorage, Alaska, will convert to a detachment of the 833d Transportation Battalion at Seattle, Washington.

Other reshaping efforts include—

Overall, MTMC strength at worldwide port locations will decline by 4 officers, 37 soldiers, 94 civilians, and 64 foreign nationals. Implementation of the proposal is expected to be complete by 30 September 2001.

MTMC's headquarters has relocated to Hoffman Building II at 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, Virginia, from the Nassif Building in Falls Church, Virginia, where it has been a landmark for the past 35 years. The move to a Government-owned building from a privately owned facility means a significant savings for the Department of Defense. MTMC will occupy 165,000 square feet of newly renovated office space in Hoffman II, which is sufficient to allow MTMC employees previously located in the Webb Building in Arlington, Virginia, to move to the new location also. For information on how to reach MTMC personnel in their new location, call (800) 756-6862 or go to the MTMC website at http:// www.mtmc.army.mil.

M2A3 BRADLEYS FEATURE ON-BOARD DIAGNOSTICS

The 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, was the first unit to field the M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. One major improvement in the new Bradley is an on-board diagnostics capability. The vehicle executes a system-level built-in test when it is powered up and continually monitors system status while in operation. Thus, the crew is alerted to potentially dangerous faults before they occur. The system is easier to maintain because of pre-mission and preventive maintenance checks that are built into the software. Since the vehicle has embedded diagnostic and maintenance software, maintenance personnel no longer have to carry 6 boxes of diagnostic equipment and 13 technical manuals to troubleshoot a failed vehicle.

Other system improvements include segregated electrical power among components, two types of barrels on the 25-millimeter enhanced gun, removable link bridge plates on the feeder, and a video display screen for the dismount squad leader showing what the Bradley commander and gunner see through their sights. The A3's were outfitted with the Force XXI battle command brigade and below (FBCB2) digital communications system this summer. The FBCB2 system will provide situational awareness for all levels of command on the battlefield.

The M2A3 will undergo a "pure fleet" fielding in the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), 1st Cavalry Division, and 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), all of which are part of III Corps. (In "pure fleet" fielding, a particular type of vehicle is fielded to certain units rather than spread piecemeal throughout the force. The unit then stocks parts and provides mechanics for only one type of vehicle rather than many.) III Corps is scheduled to become the first digitized corps by fiscal year 2004.

 

CORROSION TEST FACILITY HELPS EXTEND VEHICLE LIFE

The Accelerated Corrosion Test Facility at the Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) in Maryland is helping to extend the life of military vehicles by finding ways to eliminate corrosion caused by rain, blowing dust, heat, high humidity, and other environmental conditions. For the Army, the corrosion problem adds up to about $10.5 billion in vehicle repair or replacement costs annually.

At the ATC, a 7-ton FMTV replacement under development for the Marine Corps is tested in a 5-percent salt solution. At the ATC, a 7-ton FMTV replacement under development for the Marine Corps is tested in the grit trough.

 

At the ATC, a 7-ton FMTV replacement under development for the Marine Corps is tested in a 5-percent salt solution (above) and in the grit trough (at right).

The facility, built in late 1998, is designed to simulate tough road conditions and put vehicles through an accelerated program of corrosive abuse that would take years to occur normally. In one test, vehicles are driven through a trough filled with a 5-percent solution of water and sodium chloride. In another, vehicles enter a mist booth where a "salt fog" containing a 1-percent solution of sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and sodium bicarbonate saturates their tops and sides for 2 minutes.

The vehicles also are driven through a grit trough containing 6 inches of water and the same 1-percent solution, along with fire clay dust, residual crusher dust from stone quarries, and beach sand. This trough has a series of bumps that work the suspension systems of the vehicles as they pass through, enabling the corrosive water and grit to get into these areas. The test vehicles then are parked in a high-temperature, high-humidity chamber for 8 hours to accelerate the corrosion process. A wind tunnel with blowing sand, to simulate the desert environment, and an ultraviolet light chamber are on the drawing board.

The corrosion-test program for the family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) put a replacement 7-ton, high-mobility cargo truck under development for the Marine Corps through a year's worth of corrosive exposure in just 10 test cycles, said Bill Mullis, test director for Accelerated Corrosion Surface Engineering at the ATC.

Mullis said that the target rates used to calculate how much corrosion the vehicles are experiencing came from Montreal, Canada. Montreal's acid rain produces one of the harshest environments in the world. "If a vehicle that we're testing can withstand that environment, it is pretty much good to go anywhere in the world," he added.

The current Army standard is to acquire vehicles with corrosion-resistant materials that will last 20 years or more. In the meantime, manufacturers are developing protective coatings to apply to vehicles now in the military fleet. Chip-resistant top coatings of primer and paint significantly reduce corrosion, and a special galvanized metal also has been found to hold up well. Military vehicle manufacturers also are applying an undercoating to their vehicle systems, as well as silicone sealants to hose ends, fasteners, bolts, and nuts.

The $1.5 million corrosion test facility and its test methodology are the products of a successful partnership between the ATC, the Army's Program Manager for Medium Tactical Vehicles, the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, General Motors Corporation, and Ocean City Research Corporation, a New Jersey firm that works to reduce corrosion on ships and shipbuilding materials.

 

CECOM ADOPTS "REVERSE AUCTION" PURCHASE PROCEDURE

The Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) is using a new purchasing process called "reverse auction." In reverse auction, CECOM publishes an on-line list of items it wishes to buy. A prospective private-sector seller bids his price on line for an item and, as other sellers post their prices, he can lower his posted price.

Recent revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, "Contracting by Negotiation," authorized this acquisition method. Under this procedure, the Government must obtain the seller's consent to reveal the proffered price, and only the seller's price, not his name, can be disclosed during the "auction."

CECOM is using commercial software from Frictionless Commerce, Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to process the bids. The software selects the seller with the lowest price for an item and searches the World Wide Web to locate similar items, ensuring that the bid price actually is the lowest price available. It also profiles the seller, his prices, his performance, and his compliance with previous contractual agreements.

With reverse auction, sellers can modify their prices in order to gain a niche in the Government market, and the Government can reduce the costs of supplies and services through the competitive process. The new process promises to provide significant savings in time, labor, and money for Government and industry alike.

ARMY ESTABLISHES DEPLOYMENT AWARD

The new Chief of Staff of the Army Deployment Excellence Award will recognize deploying units and deployment support organizations that meet or exceed established deployment standards. The purpose of the award is to encourage units and installations within the Army to become skilled in deployment operations. It also is designed to publicize innovative initiatives that improve the deployment process. The first award will cover the year starting 1 April 2000 and ending 31 March 2001. The Army Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Virginia, is the proponent for the award.

Awards will be presented to active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve organizations in three functional areas: deploying unit, supporting unit, and installation. Unit awards will be presented in small (team or detachment) and large (company to brigade) categories.

Table of organization and equipment (TOE) and table of distribution and allowances (TDA) units and installations that have participated in or supported a training or contingency deployment during the award year may compete. Competing units and installations will submit nominations to their major commands, which will select the best nominations for submission to the Transportation School for Army-level evaluation. Award evaluation includes a visit to the organization for first-hand grading of deployment practices.

Implementing guidance and evaluation criteria are available on the Army Transportation School home page at http://www.transchool.eustis.army.mil/DEA/ DEA.htm.

The first year's awards will be presented at a Pentagon ceremony in October 2001.

ARMY-WIDE FMTV UPGRADE COMPLETED

The driveline upgrade of 2,629 trucks in the family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, last May marked a successful and early completion of the Army-wide program to improve the performance of the initial FMTV production model. The program had been slated to run through this year.

The upgrade by Stewart & Stevenson, manufacturer of medium tactical vehicles for the Army, included replacing the flywheel housing, drive shaft, yokes, and seals. The improvements were needed to eliminate the vibration-induced stress on U-joints and drive shafts experienced by the A0 model FMTV trucks when driven above 45 miles per hour on paved highways for long distances.

A mechanic installs an improved yoke in an FMTV truck. A mechanic installs an improved yoke in an FMTV truck.

Production is now underway on the latest model FMTV truck. Army Acquisition Executive Paul J. Hoeper gave Stewart & Stevenson the go-ahead in early September 1999 to manufacture the A1, an enhanced version of the FMTV truck, after prototypes successfully completed 100,000 miles of extensive testing at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The A1 FMTV truck will be an improved model of what already has proven to be a durable and reliable vehicle. Many of the enhancements are the result of the field experience of the FMTV and a number of changes requested by soldiers to make their job easier.

3-D BODY SCANNER WILL MAKE UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT FIT BETTER

The Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, Massachusetts, is using a three-dimensional laser body scanner, known as the whole body scanner, to improve the fit of soldiers' clothing and equipment. The scanner and data extraction software obtain 20 to 30 measurements of the human body in about 30 seconds. The measurements can be used to fit soldiers with properly sized uniforms, body armor, and chemical protective suits and masks.

Researchers will be using data gathered from these scans to update the Army's anthropometric data base. Anthropometry is the study of body measurements, especially variations within the general population. With this information, researchers hope to improve the design, fit, and sizing of soldiers' clothing and equipment.

The scanner captures the body surface by projecting a low-power laser stripe onto the subject. Once the horizontal laser strikes the surface of the body, it is reflected onto a photoelectric panel, which generates digital data that are sent to an adjoining computer. The computer uses the data to create points in space and enhances the image by connecting the points to make a three-dimensional digital model of the human body surface. Engineers then can manipulate the model using computer-aided design and engineering software.

Other uses of the scanner include medical applications such as fitting artificial limbs and fitting garments and masks for burn victims. There is commercial interest in the digitizer for use in cyber-art and computer animation.

The Soldier Systems Center's whole body scanner, produced by Cyberware in Monterey, California, is one of eight in use around the world.

LOADING CONTAINERS IN HALF THE TIME

For the past 2 years, Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, North Carolina, has been the testing site for the direct access rail-to-ship (DARTS) spreader bar, a device that can lift two 20-foot containers simultaneously.

The DARTS spreader bar in action at Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point.

The DARTS spreader bar in action at Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point.

"The idea behind the spreader bar is to develop a means to ensure that containers of various dimensions can be placed directly onto a ship," said Larry Branch of the 597th Transportation Group at Sunny Point, designers of the DARTS spreader bar. "The bar would allow containers of different sizes to be removed from railcars and placed on board the vessel as soon as they arrive."

Containers of various sizes and widths usually have to be segregated upon arrival and loaded with like sizes. The spreader bar adapts and shifts to allow immediate loading of the shipment. This saves time spent processing equipment and loading containers onto the vessel. The actual amount of time saved depends on how many and what type of containers are being loaded.

"This spreader bar is a great opportunity to leverage commercial technology and to enhance commercial container operations," said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Gorevin, a concepts and technology analyst in the U.S. Transportation Command's Strategy and Policy Division, Concepts and Technology Team.

According to Gorevin, the spreader bar's greatest boon to the military could be its use during sustainment operations. "Sustainment operations are typically run out of commercial facilities; if adopted for use, the spreader bar could speed up loading containerships," he said. "Any equipment that can decrease loading times is viable to the transportation industry [and] is something to be looked at."

DISPOSITION OF DEMIL-CODED ITEMS EASIER

A searchable data base with instructions for disposing of demilitarization (DEMIL) code "F" items in the Department of Defense supply inventory is now on line at http://aeps.ria.army.mil. More than 67,000 items in the inventory are assigned DEMIL code F. These include weapon systems and their components, flight-safety-critical aircraft parts, and Navy nuclear items.

After obtaining a password, a user can log in, type in either a national item identification number or a key word, and pull up complete Federal Logistics Information System data for those items assigned DEMIL code "F." If material disposition instructions have been entered into the data base, they can be printed out and followed. If instructions are not available, the user can click on a hyperlink and obtain the name and phone number of the appropriate integrated material manager (IMM). Disposition instructions for these items must be obtained from the appropriate IMM before they are turned in to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS).

In the past, before a military service could turn in a code-F item to DRMS, it first had to confirm that the DEMIL code was F, determine the appropriate IMM, request disposition instructions, and then hold the material until a response was received. That process was tedious and time-consuming and often resulted in the services' retaining physical custody and accountability of the material long after they had declared the item to be
excess.

The web site for the data base was developed by Army Electronic Product Support (AEPS), the executive agent for Army Materiel Command web logistics initiatives, as a result of a joint effort by the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Logistics Information Service, DRMS, the Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, TDF Corporation, AEPS, and the Army Logistics Management College (ALMC). ALMC currently maintains a demilitarization policy, procedures, and resources web site at http://www.alu.army.mil/demil. To request a copy of the DEMIL Code F User's Guide, send an e-mail to mackeyk@lee.army.mil.

NATICK DEVELOPS ADVANCED FOOD SANITATION CENTER

The Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, Massachusetts, has developed a new food service sanitation center for use in the field environment. The advanced food sanitation center will replace two outdated systems currently being used—the mess kit laundry and the food sanitation center. The new system will provide a means to clean and sanitize food preparation equipment efficiently without the hazards associated with the old systems.

The mess kit laundry has three M67 immersion heaters that are placed in three 32-gallon waste cans to provide hot wash, rinse, and sanitizing water. The current food sanitation center consists of three sinks, each with a gasoline-powered M2 burner that is placed directly under it to heat the water. The new system will use one modern burner unit (fueled by JP-8) to heat the water for all three sinks simultaneously. Each sink has a steam valve to provide independent control of the water temperature required for that sink. The new unit is safer because food service workers no longer will have to stand over the burner as it heats the water or remove the unit for refueling, and the fuel it uses is more stable than the gasoline used in the old system.

The sinks in the advanced food sanitation center are consistent with national food code standards and have center-mounted drains for quick drainage, compared to the old sinks that drain from the back, making it difficult to fully drain and clean the sinks after each use. Additional components of the new system include tables, fittings, hoses, collapsible drying racks, and a grease separator. Most components of the new system are available commercially, making it more economical. The new system will be available by the fall of 2001.

 

GUARD MAKES RECORD BARGE MOVE

The Indiana Army National Guard, working with the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), completed the largest Army National Guard deployment by barge in history last May. Over 1,100 pieces of equipment were transported on 64 barges from Indiana to the port of Alexandria, Louisiana, on the Red River

 

17 barges of military vehicles arrive in Alexandria, Louisiana.Vehicles of the 76th Infantry Brigade come ashore at the port of Alexandria.
Left, 17 barges of military vehicles arrive in Alexandria, Louisiana. Right, vehicles of the 76th Infantry Brigade come ashore at the port of Alexandria.

The 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate), headquartered in Indianapolis, shipped the cargo in connection with a high-priority 2-week training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Canal Barge Company, Inc., of New Orleans, Louisiana, loaded all of the military vehicles. Forty-five barges were loaded in Clarksville, Indiana; 15 in Evansville, Indiana; and 4 in Peoria, Illinois.

The 7-day, 800-mile voyage took the barges through 3 river systems—the Ohio, Mississippi, and Red—and 13 locks. Moving 24 hours a day, the barges traveled at an average speed of 8 knots per hour.

Comparing barge movement with rail movement, Major Jim Callahan, the brigade's logistics officer, said that, in shipment by barge, valuable time is saved by not having to shackle vehicles to rail cars and cover windows with tape. "With barges, you drive on and you drive off."

The barge operation also was praised by Richard Lolich of the Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. "We just took hundreds and hundreds of heavy military vehicles and their crews off the interstate highway system," he said. "That represents a big savings in fuel and driver costs."

 

GENERATOR RETROFIT KITS AVAILABLE

Finding replacement engine parts for the 3-kilowatt electric generators used by the military services is no longer a problem, thanks to an economical retrofit kit available from Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC), Ohio.

The Army's gasoline-powered mobile electric power (MEP)-16A all-purpose generators, which cost approximately $9,000 each, have been used for nearly 20 years. They were becoming more and more difficult to repair because some engine parts were obsolete and not replaceable. The Marine Corps was experiencing similar problems with its diesel-driven generator set, MEP-16B.

The Army awarded a contract for the proof of concept that resulted in a competitive technical data package for the manufacture of retrofit kits for its generator engines. DSCC awarded a similar contract for the Marine generators and a subsequent contract for the manufacture of both the Army and Marine Corps kits. Additional kits will be manufactured as needed.

The Army's retrofit kit consists of 53 parts, including a diesel engine. It costs about $2,100, or $6,900 less than a new generator would cost. It can be ordered from DSCC (source of supply number S9C) by citing national stock number (NSN) 2815-01-440-4426.

The Marine Corps' retrofit kit contains 20 parts, including a diesel engine, and costs about $2,600, or $6,400 less than a new generator would cost. It can be ordered from DSCC by citing NSN 2920-01-418-0970.

For more information, call (614) 692-1796 or DSN 850-1796 or send an e-mail to David_Bowling @dscc.dla.mil or Walter_Meyers@dscc.dla.mil.

ALMC OFFERS INTERNET VERSION OF DRMOC-BASIC COURSE

The Army Logistics Management College (ALMC) at Fort Lee, Virginia, has developed an Internet version of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Operations Course (DRMOC)-Basic. The course emphasizes the detailed mechanics of basic disposal operations, including the objectives, policies, and procedures involved in the reutilization, donation, sale, ultimate disposal, demilitarization, and other special processing of Department of Defense excess and surplus personal property. In this course, students learn the terminology used in the disposal world and the proper way to turn in property, as well as how to obtain disposal property.

Previously available only as a 3-week classroom course, the Internet version of the course can be taken by people who need to know more about DRMO but cannot attend a class. Students have 6 months to complete the course and can work on their own or be part of a controlled group in which the instructor monitors student progress. Weekly chat rooms will be scheduled for students participating in a controlled group.

A pilot instructor-monitored version of DRMOC-Basic began in late April. Anyone wishing to enroll in the program should call (804) 765-4638 or DSN 539-4638 or send an e-mail to broughtv@lee.army.mil.

SOME HUEYS TO GET NEW ENGINES

The Army plans to overhaul 160 T-53 engines for the UH-1 Iroquois helicopters. The "Hueys," as they are called, will be retired in 2004 under the Army Aviation Force Modernization Plan. Until then, units need the aircraft to conduct training and missions.

The Army has 975 UH-1 helicopters on hand; 365 of them are mission capable, and 610 are not flying. Currently, they are being used in the Sinai for the Multinational Forces Observer mission; at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for training; and at Davison Army Airfield, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to transport Pentagon officials and others. Hueys also are used in Germany, at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and in many reserve component units.

The Army has been using the UH-1 helicopter since the late 1950's. It was referred to as the workhorse of the Army during the Vietnam War, because it was used to transport troops and equipment into combat and to evacuate wounded soldiers.

T-53 engines to be repaired will be drawn from a pool of helicopters that currently are grounded. Repaired UH-1's will be distributed among units on the basis of need, and priority will go to operations such as medical evacuation units.

UH-60 Black Hawks, which can carry more weight, will replace the UH-1's upon their retirement. After retirement, the UH-1's will be moved to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Following processing, they will be disposed of or transferred to other Government agencies for further use. Other options for retired UH-1's include public auction and donation to historical organizations.

DTIC CONFERENCE SCHEDULED

The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) will hold its annual users meeting and training conference 6 to 9 November at the Doubletree Hotel in Rockville, Maryland. The conference theme is "Information Solutions for the 21st Century." For further information, visit the DTIC conference website at http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/conferences.html, call (703) 767-8263, or send an e-mail to jfoscue@dtic.mil.

 

TRANSPORTABILITY GUIDE ON LINE

Military Traffic Management Command Transportation Engineering Agency (MTMCTEA) Pamphlet 70-1, Transportability and Deployability for Better Strategic Mobility, dated September 1999, is available on the MTMCTEA web page, http://www.tea.army.mil/dpe/ criteria.htm. The pamphlet is a guide to transportability and contains information about the various transport modes, transportability testing, the virtual proving ground for transportability, and transportability in the acquisition process.

 

FORT HOOD BATTERY SHOPS PROVIDE ONE-STOP SERVICE

The 602d Maintenance Company, 553d Corps Support Battalion, at Fort Hood, Texas, has created a one-stop service section that allows customers to exchange bad batteries for new ones that are fully charged and ready for operation. This one-stop reparable exchange service is made possible by two means: a Department of the Army battery model shop and a mobile battery shop called the "BattCAVE," which stands for battery charging and verification equipment. The DA model shop is a fixed facility that can pulse and charge 72 batteries every 24 hours, which is sufficient for all the battery needs of the 13th Corps Support Command and Fort Hood units. Pulsing removes the sulfate build-up on battery plates that reduces current flow and battery effectiveness.

The recently fielded BattCAVE is a portable battery shop that can fit into the back of a 5-ton truck or light medium tactical vehicle or on a palletized load system flatrack. It also can be sling-loaded by all but the smallest of Army helicopters. The introduction of the BattCAVE onto the modern battlefield can reduce downtime of battery-equipped systems significantly and save the Army thousands of dollars in shipping, handling, and purchasing costs.

Batteries for use by III Corps units are tested and pulse-charged at the mobile battery shop. Batteries for use by III Corps units are tested and pulse-charged at the mobile battery shop.

The BattCAVE comes with a small multifuel generator that operates for 14 to 16 hours on one fueling. As an alternative, the BattCAVE can be hooked up to any 5,000-watt or larger tactical generator. It provides commanders with a deployable, modular capability that has the flexibility needed on the Force XXI battlefield.

The BattCAVE contains 8 pulse-chargers capable of renewing 16 to 48 batteries per day. A commercial "smart charger" pulses and charges at the same time. By charging and pulsing simultaneously, the time required to return a battery to service is cut in half. As a safety precaution, the BattCAVE's built-in ventilation system must be operational in order for the charging system to start. This feature can be overridden if required during wartime. Once pulse-charging is complete, the charger automatically shuts down to prevent over-charging that can result in acid boil-over or explosion. Because of these safety features, the portable battery shop meets or exceeds Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety requirements and can be used safely in both garrison and field environments.

 

NUTRIENT PATCHES STUDIED

Scientists in the Department of Defense (DOD) Combat Feeding Program at the Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Massachusetts, are working on a nutrition patch that would help sustain soldiers on the battlefield.

The patch, called the Transdermal Nutrient Delivery System (TNDS), would work very much like the patches that are used to curb smoking. Instead of releasing nicotine, the patches would transmit vitamins and nutrients needed by the body. They would not replace food; they would be worn by warfighters only in extreme conditions for a day or two until they had access to food and time to eat it. The TNDS also could be used to transmit other chemicals that would help reduce combat-related stress, hunger, fatigue, or physical problems associated with prolonged exposure to cold weather or high altitude.

According to Dr. C. Patrick Dunn of the DOD Combat Feeding Program, the patch could have civilian as well as military applications. The patch could be worn by workers in stressful or hazardous environments, such as miners, oil rig workers, firefighters, and astronauts. Although the patches are still in the conceptual stage, the project has generated interest from several major companies that are interested in forming a partnership with Natick to explore its feasibility. Pending significant technological breakthroughs, the patch could be available to military personnel around the year 2025.

 

COMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY REVAMPS LAND WARRIOR PROGRAM

Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology has revitalized the Army's Land Warrior program. Land Warrior is an integrated fighting system worn by dismounted soldiers that incorporates computerized communications, navigation, targeting systems, and protective equipment. Because the program appeared to be floundering in 1998, Colonel Bruce Jette, Project Manager-Soldier, Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Massachusetts, directed system developers to use COTS components whenever possible instead of military-unique items.

Since reversing the direction of the program, developers have implemented dramatic changes that have transformed Land Warrior's design and configuration. By incorporating existing commercial technology, system components can be upgraded as the equipment improves. This reduces maintenance costs, because often it is cheaper to replace a component than to repair it. Today, the system is smaller, lighter, more rugged, and costs less.

Most of the parts needed to retool Land Warrior systems are available on the open market. For example, researchers found 20 video cameras that were good candidates for passing imagery from a soldier's rifle to his headset display. These products offered features that allowed Land Warrior to take advantage of technologies not considered before. "Now we're getting almost everything we want at a reduced cost, plus a bunch of added functionality that we didn't know about," said Jette.

The Army plans to issue 34,000 Land Warrior sets to dismounted infantrymen and rangers. Fielding of Land Warrior 1.0 is expected to begin in fiscal year 2004.