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Army Technologies

U.S. Army Welcomes Two New Draft Horses to Supercomputing Stable

June 21, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, has unveiled two new supercomputers that are among the fastest and most powerful devices of their kind. The devices are part of a recently opened supercomputing center that is the new locus of the service’s use of high-speed computing not only for basic scientific research and development, but also to solve basic warfighter needs using the latest available technologies.

“The Army Research Lab is the largest user of supercomputing capacity,” says Dale Ormond, director, U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “To have a supercomputer there gives us a huge advantage as we move forward in our research and engineering mission,” he adds.

At the heart of the new Army supercomputer center are two IBM iDataPlex systems that are among the most powerful of their kind on the planet. “We have the ‘Pershing,’ which is the 62nd fastest computer in the world, and another one called ‘Hercules,’ which is the 81st (fastest),” he explains. The Pershing contains 20,160 central processing units (CPUs), 40 terabytes of memory, and operates at 420 teraflops. The Hercules has 17,472 CPUs, 70 terabytes of memory, and operates at 360 teraflops.

The $5 million dollar center also features state-of-the-art electrical supply systems designed to support supercomputing, and special cooling systems designed to manage the heat that comes from all the CPUs that make up both supercomputers. The new facility has over 20,000 square foot of space, which will eventually house as many as six large supercomputing systems by 2016.

Pershing and Hercules join other Army supercomputers run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with supercomputers operated by the Navy and Air Force.

Communications Migration on the Move

June 17, 2013

The initial steps have been taken to transition soldiers from Army Knowledge Online to next-generation enterprise services. Secretary of the Army John McHugh authorized the move, which will support enterprise systems for collaboration, content management and unified online capabilities. Army military retirees and family members will continue to have access to Defense Department online self-service sites such as Tricare and MyPay through DOD Self-Service Logon.

This latest phase of the modernization follows the Army’s migration of 1.4 million email accounts to Department of Defense Enterprise Email, an initial step in moving toward modernizing the service’s communications infrastructure during the next several years to make it interoperable across the U.S. Defense Department and compatible with emerging Joint Information Environment architectures, including cloud-based services. A transition timeline for AKO services and accounts is being developed and will include military and civilian retirees and Army family members. Details will be published by September in an Army execution order and will include how thee Army will remain connected with military retirees and families.

 

 

The Bottom Line: Military Operational Paradigm Shifts

June 17, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Up until now, elected officials, in consultation with military and intelligence experts, have made strategic national decisions about the role of the United States in global security. But the current congressional budgeting approach is turning this procedure on its head: military leaders will tell the elected what they can accomplish with the appropriated resources.

Cyber Train as You Fight

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Army is making its facility at West Point the focus of a joint program with the other services, industry and academia, devoted to sharing advanced cybertraining and research. Training in the new cyber realm includes not only basic best practices concerning passwords and mobile device security but also advanced training in the latest network management protocols and technology for members of the Army’s Signal Corps.

Microgrid Means Mega Advantages

May 31, 2013
By Rita Boland

Fort Bliss, Texas, has installed an unusual mircogrid to help power a dining facility on base, introducing a new approach to the U.S. Army’s efforts to find alternatives to traditional power. The technology is intelligent, optimizing energy usage.

Government Lab Helps Choose Future Warfighting Vehicles

May 21, 2013

U.S. soldiers are expanding the use of the Capability Portfolio Analysis Tool (CPAT) across the Army’s modernization program after its success in shifting the paradigm for conducting analysis. CPAT offers an advanced combination of modeling, simulation and optimization decision support software. Currently, the Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS) is its primary user, employing it to analyze potential scenarios as technology advances and changes occur in the global environment and the federal budget as well as other factors that could influence future purchases.

Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, asked Sandia National Laboratories personnel to brief other Army PEOs. As a result, Sandia is working with Enterprise Information Systems to apply CPAT to complex decision-making processes.

Eventually, CPAT could be adapted to other military branches or applied to entirely different, complex decision-making processes in other large organizations.“The challenge is each organization has different things that they are managing. Conceptually you are making decisions about how you invest your money, but the details of what goes into it are very, very different,” Craig Lawton, lead for Sandia’s PEO GCS projects, says. “The sky’s the limit.”

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Army and other organizations developed the CPAT about two years ago; last year it won the Military Operations Research Society’s Richard H. Barchi Prize.

Army Contracts to Develop New Radar System

May 3, 2013

The U.S. Army is expanding its Range Radar Replacement Program (RRRP) with a high/medium power close-in radar system. The new mobile system will provide fine detail when tracking munitions and other targets at a range of at least 37 miles. The close-in radar system joins the fly-out radar system, the first range instrumentation radar system developed as part of the RRRP. The program aims to help the Army modernize test ranges through cost-effective, digital technologies.

The new radar system is a contract modification with General Dynamics C4 Systems valued at $16 million.

Making Tactical Communications History

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Two brigades from the Army's 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.

Army Network Testing 
Increases Commonality

May 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The same approach used to test and implement the Army’s single largest networking system is laying the groundwork for extending the network down to the individual soldier. As laboratory tests and field exercises validate the interoperability of separate elements in a network, system conflicts are giving way to greater commonality among different elements.

This effort has borne fruit in the evolution of the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T). The last fielding of WIN–T Increment 1 took place in August 2012, and WIN–T Increment 2 is taking the final steps toward deployment. Meanwhile, WIN–T Increment 3 is beginning to take shape.

As these increments progress toward full implementation, their test efforts are helping leaven out other capabilities. Greater interoperability testing of individual elements in a fully networked environment is allowing engineers to extend interoperable functions farther down the chain of command and into the hands of individual warfighters.

Col. Edward J. Swanson, USA, project manager WIN–T (PM WIN–T), explains that WIN–T Increment 1 provides a static networking capability for forces in the field. While it does not work on the move, soldiers can establish WIN–T linkage at the quick halt—they simply pull their vehicle off the road to a dead stop and immediately begin communications without a complicated setup. Newer WIN–T Increment 1 systems incorporate Joint Network Node Ka-band satellite connectivity, and its capabilities are deployed down to the battalion level. Col. Swanson describes WIN–T Increment 1 as “the backbone of the tactical network today.”

Meet 
Laser-Triggered, Origami-Like Pixie Dust

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers have developed micro materials that fold when hit with a low-intensity laser. The advance may eliminate the need for relatively bulky power systems—such as battery packs—on tiny robotic systems. It also could enable robotic microthrusters, unattended ground sensors, or even—theoretically—programmable, easily changeable camouflage patterns.

The microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are shaped like stars with four, six or eight legs. The legs fold—like origami—when heated slightly with light from a low-level laser. That folding action is accomplished without the materials being tethered to batteries, wires or other any other power supply.

One of the most likely applications would be a new kind of switch that prevents electricity leakage when a device is turned off. “You could turn on a structure or turn off a structure from a distance by shining a light on it,” explains Chris Morris, an Army Research Laboratory (ARL) electronics engineer who leads the On-chip Energetics and MEMS team. “And when the structure is in an off state, it would be truly off, unlike a solid-state electrical switch where there’s always some leaking through even when it’s off.”

Microrobotic applications are more futuristic. “I could see this as potentially being a way to enable very, very small robotic-like platforms where you have little legs that would move in response to light—and potentially even different colors of light, so they could be directed to walk in one direction or another depending on what color of light you’re flashing at them,” Morris explains. “That’s one interesting aspect that circumvents the current power supply challenge with small-scale robotic systems for surveillance and reconnaissance. The power supplies are so bulky and heavy that in order to get something big enough to carry the power supply, you no longer have a small, cheap, disposable package. You have something the size of a kid’s remote-control car.”

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